In my time at peopleHum, I had the good fortune of listening to hundreds of HR specialists across the globe, which gave me the unique opportunity to learn about the challenges, intricacies, and stresses of the HR profession. From hour-long interviews and bite-sized HRSpeaks, I learned that working at HR can be gruelling and thankless, with a majority of the work happening behind the scenes.
Every day they juggle with maintaining their administrative responsibilities, making sure nothing breaks, and also do their best to support the company's biggest and most important asset - its people.
What is it that makes them stick around and still love working in the HR profession? The world's leading HR experts share their experiences, anecdotes, and advice.
So, here's a little love from us to all HR professionals. We hope that it helps spread a bit of joy before this holiday season; and also serves as a reminder of why you love what you do.
Here are 25 HR experts explaining why they love working in HR.
Why I's thankful to be in HR: 25 HR experts explain why they love what they do
1. Dave Ulrich speaks his mind on the importance of organizational cultures
“I have a version of what's called OCD. OCD in English is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My disorder is Organizational Compulsive Disorder.”
Dave Ulrich loves to study organizations.
"How do they work? How do they operate? How do they affect people? How do they deliver outcomes? So over my lifetime, that’s what I've tried to study is organizational problems that don't have simple solutions and to try to figure out the ideas that will have impact."
His advice for HR?
"One of the things we have to do is turn individual skills into teams and organizations, and the intersection of talent and organization is leadership."
2. Josh Bersin, on the importance of building a learning culture work
"Regardless of your efforts to build great content and hire the best instructors, the culture of learning always prevails"
What's in it for businesses who are looking at the value of building a learning culture in companies? The answer, according to Josh Bersin, was the creation of an engaging experience, which in turn could translate into many other value-driven resources for companies.
"When a company provides a professional learning experience or job rotation, or a coach to its employees, it motivates them to be more productive and become better at their job. Such things happen when learning is done well, and these are more than just performance improvements."
3. Kelvin Kong - Thankful to Recognize, Motivate and Coach employees
"I am thankful for leaders who ‘care’ because authentic care empowers leaders to truly understand how to motivate, set goals, coach and recognise people, the very missing elements in an uncertain world we live in today"
4. Yewande Jinadu- Thankful for learning new skills almost every week
“I am grateful to be in HR for many reasons. The opportunity to impact the lives of the employees and grow the business through people. What excites me most is the fact that I am learning new skills almost every week and it helps me draw content to share with others. I am thankful to be in a role that resonates with my personality & Core Value which is Emotional Intelligence, Customer Centricity, Integrity & Ownership.”
5. Loo Leap Han- Thankful for technology that has made HR work for the win
“Trust, courage, and confidence have a profound impact on the way HR leads and think. We are neither inside nor outside the HR "box". We are everywhere now! HR digitalization has eased and changed the way people analytics-based decision-making is performed. Technology has made HR work for the win! HR experts who have championed many HR transformational works/researches, their contributions have changed the HR world for the better.”
6. David Jansen- Thankful for being vital to the organization’s success
“Being in HR, my top 4 are all about being humble, having a personal touch, respecting everyone equally and bringing out the best in them. It’s a unique function within an organization where being part of the HR team is vital for an organization to succeed especially during these challenging times. Without people, there won’t be an organization, to begin with.”
7. Khim Tan- Thankful to be an HR, to influence, impact and truly improve others.
When I first started in HR, I was wondering what was the purpose of my role. Some people thought that it was a thankless job, not for the faint-hearted. One day, a respectable and pragmatic BOD said that the purpose of my role was to help people and business. When I heard this, I got goosebumps because it showed me that someone saw my job better than me. I'm blessed, I'm proud and I'm thankful to be an HR, to influence, to impact, and truly to improve others.
8. Vaishnavi JM- Thankful for management that empowers HR managers
“As an HR Head, I am thankful to my Management Team at Multivista for empowering HR managers to take the right decisions at the right time in the right direction. I am equally thankful to the Employees for putting their trust and confidence in HR managers as their well-wishers!”
9. Goldie Shwe Yee Win Lei- Thankful for being the mediator between management and employees
“I am thankful as an HR leader for being a crucial part towards organizational growth. I feel great about helping and reaching strategic goals and objectives by providing innovative leadership and ideas. I also love being a mediator between management and employees as a people champion.”
10. Karen Lim- Thankful for being able to try new initiatives to grow with my HR team
“I can’t be more thankful for my remarkable APAC HR team at Skyworks who is exceptionally dedicated and talented in their own special ways. I thank them & my business leaders who have given me the space to learn and grow, and have allowed me to take some risks in trying new initiatives that continue to grow Skyworks to be a great place to work!”
11. Eugene Loh- Thankful that leaders are prioritizing their employees
“For me, it’s how Covid definitely brought back the human element in Human Resources. It's kind of like a reset of the business leaders’ priorities towards their employees and organization and also an elevation of the HR leader's role in the organization.”
12. Jennifer Akporero- Thankful for the opportunity to learn and develop
“The opportunity to be pivotal in developing human behaviour, sharing knowledge and insights, and cultivating attitudes that help employees perform better excites me. The most important resource in an organization is the 'Human Resource' hence improving their skills and knowledge increases the productivity of an organization.”
13. Yusnita Febriati- Thankful for the opportunity to boost empowerment
“What I’m thankful for is, having a team that is always open for empowerment.”
14. Brian Kropp, on the influence of digital analytics and HR
"The reason why [digital analytics] works is because we've gone from tracking and monitoring to using that data information to actually help."
Businesses of the future are going to have to reinvent themselves in order to establish a far more collaborative digital environment in which they build for digital first rather than attempting to virtualize its present in-person procedures.
Brian Kropp's advice for organizations?
"You need to have people on your team that are trying to figure out how to make HR the department that delivers great results."
15. Being people centric with Ben Eubanks
"We have to be data-driven, but people focused."
These two concepts often pull at each other. To be data-driven is to focus on building the business case. While, being people focused is to care for individuals, focusing on the things they need, and supporting the people that make up a company's workforce.
However, Ben Eubanks breaks these concepts down to their fundamental levels, stating quite simply that behind every number, metric and chart, we are essentially looking at people, their lives, their hopes and their dreams.
"... we've got to focus on not just being data-driven. We also have to focus on the people. At the end of the day that we're not doing the full part of our job we should be doing."
16. Perry Timms, on the necessity of valuing people at work
"Let's stop talking about people as our best asset and start talking about the organization in a human sense, because it doesn't exist without them."
In Perry Timms' view, reinventing the organization is all about inclusion and the pace of creativity. Organizations need to ensure that they are creating the right conditions for people by practicing inclusivity and operating in an agile way to get there as quickly and collectively as possible.
17. Yemi Faseun, on finding love in HR
"Once I got into HR, I found love in HR and I decided to stay with it."
Yemi Faseun left HR for a brief stint at Sales. But, eventually, after a year, he ran back to HR. What really drew him to the HR space was the opportunity to learn something new and different about human beings on a daily basis.
And he expresses this succinctly - "HR is neither a science nor an art. It is a scientific art, and that's because we are dealing with people."
18. Diversity and inclusion through the eyes of Lars Schmidt
"We’re kind of at a point with diversity and inclusion right now where it’s a big part of our conversation. I think some companies are embracing it wholeheartedly. Others know that they want to but they might not even know where to start.”
On the topic of hitting the "RESET" button on inclusivity, Lars Schmidt states that the first and most important step is to have a deep and honest introspective look within the organization.
"My first steps were to spend a lot of time with my employees of colour and really talk to them, listen to them, understand what their reality is in the workplace, what challenges they face, what institutional and embedded and systemic programs are in place that hinder their growth or their ability to feel like they belong."
And this is part of the broader challenge that HR faces today and in the time to come.
19. HR Trends according to Trish McFarlane Steed
"HR leaders have an opportunity and an obligation - Meet the challenge of providing a real experience that goes beyond what employees have come to expect from HR, and instead become something much, much better: humanized."
Trish McFarlane Steed believes that valuing every person in an organization every day goes a long way in honouring employee needs and understanding their motivations. Her studies, notes and sessions just proved how important each employee's experiences are when it comes to engagement, productivity, and wellness.
The needs of employees haven't changed, they've just evolved.
Her advice for HR? "HR leaders have an opportunity and an obligation to modernize the employee experience."
That means better HR, happier employees, and healthier businesses.
20. The People function of HR, according to Gianna Driver
"The People function is the part of an organization that bears the torch of accountability to ensure companies nurture people, who in turn help the company reach new heights. This is fun and exciting!"
HR is such a unique part of an organization. Gianna Driver chose to be an HR executive because, for her, it was a place where one could combine emotion, feelings, motivation and the stuff that makes us human, with the more rational parts if running a business. This kind of interplay gives her the opportunity to work with all parts of the company.
21. Sprint recruiting with Trent Cotton
"Sprint recruiting applies the Agile methodology to recruiting, enabling recruiting organizations to work smarter and more efficiently."
Have you ever known an organization that was not familiar with Agile? For Trent Cotton, going back to an organization that's not familiar with agile is a little bit of a shell shock, but still incredibly fun. "Ot's almost like coming to a canvas, a blank canvas and being able to choose that colours that we want to and choose what we're going to paint. To me, that's what's really interesting, and it makes me energized."
Sprint Recruiting is built upon four principles to combat the pitfalls of recruiting:
- The Business drives prioritization.
- Work in Progress Limits drive focus and creates a cadence.
- The Sprint increases efficiency.
- The Feedback Loop drives progress and creates mutual accountability.
22. Debby Carreau, on looking at people's issues from a business perspective
"I always loved the people side of business, which steered m towards Human Resources... And what I knew from working in restaurants and from running a business is that people's issues were so important to look at from a business perspective."
Debby Carreau just loved being around people and their energy - which drew her love towards the hospitality business. She started her career as a restaurant owner, passionate for business, but it was eventually the people-perspective of business operations that drew her passions.
"And that's what gave me the idea to start Inspired HR and we were very lucky. We started at a time where HR outsourcing was very new but very quickly our clients realized the value until we grew really quickly, almost by accident. And now it’s almost 14 years ago."
23. Enrique Rubio, on his love for working with people and for people
"I think one of the greatest things about having a diverse background like myself is that there will always come the time when you have the ability to combine all that you have learned... And I think that's why being in HR is a passion of mine, but I always love the fact that I had a different background and I can always bring that background into play when necessary, which is basically every day."
Very often in technology, one ends up just working in tech - and sometimes you miss working with humans. But Enrique Rubio just wanted to be in an area where whatever he was producing was for the benefit of the people and he was able to work directly with them.
He's especially thankful to his diverse background which gives him the ability to draw from the things he has learned in the past and apply them to whatever challenge lies in the present.
And that is what drives his passion for working with people and for people.
24. On the effective methods of talent sourcing, with Denys Dinkevych
"[Talent] sourcing is not only about searching but also about providing really extensive engagement which can vary based on the type of role we are talking about."
According to Denys Dinkevych, recruitment, nowadays, is related to marketing and selling jobs, which is why the demand for talent is super high. The main reason he chose this vocation was the great interest it instilled in him.
His advice to HR?
"I really like the internet and the value it provides to us. It helps me collaborate with the recruitment function because it makes collaboration really efficient."
25. Suzanne Lucas, on talent management and hiring
"When we focus so much on acquiring talent and not on skill-building, we end up with someone that's mediocre."
When you're just focused on talent acquisition, you start thinking that you need to have someone that perfect for the role. "it prevents you from actually hiring people that are really good at the job or that people could be really good at it."
Suzanne Lucas' advice for HR?
"HR needs to focus on the training and development aspect of talent."
26. The job search strategy with Career Sherpa, Hannah Morgan
"...what I found as I was working with job seekers over the course of my career, is that a lot of people just didn't understand the process of what they would need to do. And so what I like to do is help them understand what is the process that they'll need to go through. And how do we customize it for their unique situation so that they can implement it."
You're probably familiar with the term 'job coach'; Hannah Morgan is nothing of that sort. She doesn't perform the individual hand-holding, but what she does do is develop a job search strategy for job seekers and send them on their way. Instead of a hands-on coach, Hannah prefers to guide and give advice whenever people seek her expertise.
"The whole idea is developing a strategy to better navigate your job search, so that you can be more in control and feel like you're empowered to make whatever changes you want to make."
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October 25, 2021
A very inspiring list. Thanks for putting this together
October 25, 2021
This is such a great list of women leaders! More power to you all