“Our biggest asset is our people.” That’s a common refrain from many businesses. It follows, then, that the roles and responsibilities of senior HR leaders are incredibly important.
Indeed, an apt description of the senior HR role comes from Christine Hayward, executive director at global executive search organization IIC Partners. She calls it the “linchpin of an organization’s success” matching talent to business needs.
In that spirit, we want to spotlight 10 senior HR leaders making their mark in the field.
Dane Holmes is the former head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs where he was a member of the firm’s Management Committee and Partnership Committee. In his 17 years at the company, Holmes worked across four divisions: human capital management, the executive office, investment banking and finance.
Outside of the office, Holmes serves as chair of the board of directors for the Ron Brown Scholar Program for African American students. He’s also vice-chair of the board of directors for StoryCorps, a non-profit organization that records and preserves the stories of Americans from all walks of life. He’s now the CEO of Eskalera.
Denise Moulton is an HR and talent research leader at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting. She has been in the HR and talent acquisition business for two decades and has gained valuable skills and experience in talent acquisition and management, HR administration and field operations.
Moulton has been involved in the restructuring or hiring processes such as onboarding, employment branding and talent development for a variety of organizations. She has also created cross-functional campus recruitment and recruitment ambassador programs.
Before her time at Bersin, Moulton spent 14 years at children’s play and entertainment firm Hasbro as senior recruiter in global marketing and development. There, she managed the full cycle of recruiting processes.
Moulton is working towards a master’s in labor relations and human resources at the University of Rhode Island.
During three decades at Accenture, Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and human resources officer, has been instrumental in the career development and personal growth of more than 425,000 people. She heads a global HR team and focuses on the human element of organizational success in a digital world, and was named one of the top 10 CHROs in 2015 by Forbes.
A member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee and Investment Committee, Shook values inclusion and diversity. She has been a key player in gaining recognition for Accenture as an employer of choice with a keen focus on diversity.
Outside of Accenture, Shook sits on the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees, and the Women’s Leadership Board of the Women and Public Policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Shook also sits on the steering committee of Paradigm for Parity, is involved with Women in America and Ellevate Women’s Network, and is a member of the HR50 division of World50.
Jacqueline Welch, SVP, CHRO and chief diversity officer at Freddie Mac, is described as having a leadership style that’s centered around authenticity and pragmatism. She is also an expert in human capital management. She specializes in uniting employees and leaders to drive business objectives.
What sets Welch apart is her ability to communicate with employees on all levels. She has more than two decades of experience in HR and people management, with a focus on aligning leadership goals with organizational output and building a resilient workforce.
Former Autodesk CHRO Jan Becker says she stayed with the company for 25 years because of its vision of “helping people imagine, design, and create a better world.”
She has held the position of Autodesk CHRO for 15 years, running the global HR and CRE functions along with travel, safety and security. She has also managed a successful CEO transition and navigated Autodesk onto many lists of great places to work. If employee engagement is a useful metric by which to judge a CHRO’s performance, then Becker scores at the top.
Before Autodesk, Becker was at Sun Microsystems, where she started Sun University for staff development, and she has also worked for Activision and Digital Equipment Corporation.
One of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in 2018, Leena Nair is CHRO at Unilever — and the first woman to hold the role at the company. Her purpose is simple: “Ignite the Human Spark to build a Better Business and a Better World.”
Based in London, Nair leads more than 160,000 employees in 100 countries, matching the best people to the right roles, while delivering a positive social impact.
On her profile, Nair writes: “My personal goal is to build an inclusive environment where all members of our diverse society can contribute and succeed in equal measure.” And she has the experience to achieve this, having been the SVP of leadership and organization development and the global head of diversity and inclusion at Unilever for three years prior to her current role.
While head of diversity, Nair implemented programs to foster an inclusive culture, including one to promote gender balance at the company, and another to improve support for new parents.
Founded in Romania in 2005, UiPath is now a $7 billion dollar global organization with a focus on robotic process automation software. Mandy Sebel is SVP of people at UiPath, voted by Inc. as one of the best workplaces in 2019 for its culture, employee engagement and benefits.
Based in New York, Sebel started her career as a tech recruiter in that city’s Silicon Alley at the start of the dot.com boom. Sebel has experience in companies working in digital marketing, professional services, private equity and financial services.
McKinsey and Company Senior Advisor Marcia Morales-Jaffe focuses on building scalable enterprises with strong and diverse leadership teams and inspiring cultures.
Morales-Jaffe has an interesting professional background, having been an entrepreneur, computer engineer and management consultant. She’s adept at managing the interplay between business strategy, people and culture, and technology. Morales-Jaffe also worked at PayPal as chief people officer after it went public. There, she built an independent HR function to meet public company requirements.
In addition, Morales-Jaffe is on the board of nonprofit Humans for AI and is a chair of Gartner’s CHRO Global Leadership Board, a role in which she helps lead several global CHROs from top companies to foster HR collaboration and the role’s strategic function.
Other accolades include: Top 50 Multicultural Leader in Technology (2017), Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology (2016) and Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Oil & Gas (2015).
As head of research, people and performance at ADP Research Institute, Marcus Buckingham is part of a team that uses hard data to interpret the working world.
The institute focuses on labor market trends and how best to manage people and their performance. Its goal is to inspire productivity from people by connecting business leaders, policy-makers, academicians, team leaders, team members, HR and talent practitioners, and social scientists.
Buckingham’s role in this organization is to maximize employee engagement and improve their performance. A busy job, no doubt, but Buckingham still found time to write a book, “Nine Lies About Work,” which he describes as a freethinking leader’s guide to the real world.
Before his time at ADP, Buckingham spent nearly two decades as a senior researcher at Gallup. He has created several popular assessments to help leaders identify the strengths of their team members.
As public relations firm Porter Novelli’s executive vice president and global talent leader, Margaret-Ann Cole is responsible for organizational development, change management, employee experience and developing talent.
Her work history includes Crenshaw Associates, earning praise from her previous employer as one of the “foremost leaders in our industry.”
Cole has also worked at Accenture as managing director, leading the North America Workforce Experience and HR practice, as well as holding senior leadership roles in human capital management at Right Management, Willis Towers Watson and PWC.
She is on the Board of Directors for Rebuilding Together NYC, an advisor to the Academy of Medical and Public Health Services and is a member of the Forbes Human Resources Council.
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