An HRD professional must perform a wide variety of functional roles. A func- tional role is a specific set of tasks and expected outputs for a particular job, for example, classroom trainer or instructional designer. To carry out these various roles, HRD professionals need to possess many different skills or competencies. In their “Mapping the Future” study, Bernthal and colleagues describe three areas of “foundational” competencies needed by all HRD professionals.

Foundational competencies are depicted as falling into three areas: personal, inter- personal, and business/management. HRD professionals then make use of these foundational competencies as they develop particular areas of expertise. These areas of expertise are shown in the middle of the pyramid (and correspond to the terms used to describe HRD in the learning and performance wheel shown in Figure 1-2). Finally, the top of the pyramid shows four key roles for HRD profes- sionals: learning strategist, business partner, project manager, and professional specialist. The learning strategist is involved in the high-level decision making con- cerning how HRD initiatives will support the goals and strategies of an organiza- tion. The business partner works together with managers and others in determining how the HRD initiative will be implemented and evaluated. The project manager is involved with the day-to-day planning, funding, and monitor- ing of HRD initiatives, whereas the professional specialist adds his or her expertise to particular areas, for example, designing, developing, delivering, and evaluating an HRD initiative. HRD managers and executives are most likely to be involved with the learning strategist and business partner roles. Next, we will briefly discuss the roles played by two types of HRD professionals: the HRD executive/manager and the HRD practitioner.

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