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    Entries in CHRO (2)


    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 321 - The New CHRO Agenda and a ServiceNow Update

    PODCAST: #HRHappyHour 321 - The New CHRO Agenda and a ServiceNow Update

    Sponsored by VirginPulse - www.virginpulse.com

    Host: Steve Boese

    Guests: Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer, CHRO; Deepak Bharadwaj, VP, GM, HR Business Unit; Jen Stroud, HR Evangelist, ServiceNow

    Listen HERE

    This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve recorded live from the recent ServiceNow Knowledge18 event in Las Vegas.

    In this two-part episode, Steve was joined by ServiceNow's CHRO and Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors to talk about some of the key findings and trends that were discovered in ServiceNow's recent research report titled 'The New CHRO Agenda'. Pat talked about HR and digital transformation, the role of the CHRO in employee collaboration, and her view that 'HR is Sexy' and how the fundamental role of the HR leader is to unlock people's power and potential.

    Then in Part 2 of the episode,  Deepak Bharadwaj and Jen Stroud from ServiceNow shared some details about the ServiceNow platform, its history in IT and Customer Service management and how that benefits and informs their HR solutions, and how some organizations are leveraging the platform and its new capabilities in automation, AI, and chat to help create great employee experiences.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, on your favorite podcast app, or by using the widget player below:

    This was a fun show - thanks to our friends at ServiceNow for having us at the event.

    Remember to subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on Apple Podcast, Stitcher Radio, or your favorite podcast app - just search for 'HR Happy Hour.'


    The bumpy road from HR to the CEO chair

    If you are an HR leader that aspires to move up and potentially out of HR one day to sit in the CEO, COO, or some other 'C' chair that doesn't end with 'HRO', then you really should take a few minutes to read this piece on Bloomberg BusinessWeek titled - "Mary Barra, the Contender: GM's Next CEO May Not Be a 'Car Guy'", about current General Motors Chief Product Officer, (and potential future CEO), Mary Barra.

    Ms. Barra has come up through the ranks in a long (33 year) career at the auto manufacturer to hold an incredibly powerful and high-profile position - as the GM leader of the $15B vehicle development operations group, she sits in a position where the success or failure of the entire company rests pretty squarely on her and her team's ability to deliver. This is the kind of role that is the logical 'last step' before assuming the CEO chair, where if she were to make it there would be distinctive for a few reasons. One, Ms. Barra would be the first female CEO at any of the US-based auto makers, and two; she would be one of the highest profile CEOs that had a prior stop as the Head of HR along the way.

    That is fantastic, right? The former CHRO becoming the head of Product, then CEO? What could be a better path. Well, it may not be that simple.

    More on Ms. Barra's time in HR and what it may mean to her prospects as future GM CEO from the BW piece:

    Barra’s most high-profile moment came in 2009 after then-CEO Fritz Henderson put her in the HR role to help groom a new generation of leaders as the company worked to come out of bankruptcy. She allowed employees to wear jeans. “Our dress code policy is ‘dress appropriately,’ ” she announced in a memo. Barra had been attacking GM’s bureaucracy, slashing the number of required HR reports by 90 percent and shrinking the company’s employee policy manual by 80 percent. But loosening the dress code drew a flood of calls and e-mails from employees asking if they could, in fact, wear jeans. One manager was upset about the image this might send to company visitors. “So you’re telling me I can trust you to give you a company car and to have you responsible for tens of millions of dollars,” Barra responded, “but I can’t trust you to dress appropriately?”

    The anecdote reveals quite a lot I think about Ms. Barra and the lingering perceptions of HR as a corporate function. It seems like she was doing 'good' HR - slashing rules, working to empower employees and managers, and encouraging people to think and act independently. But even that kind of 'good' HR (along with all her other accomplishments as an engineer and product leader), might not be enough to elevate her over and past the typical 'car guy' model that GM and the like have always had for their highest execs.

    One more shot from BW:

    When (current CEO Daniel) Akerson appointed Barra senior vice president of global product development in 2011, though, she had just spent a year and a half as GM’s head of HR, which did not sit well with the car guys in the company and around Detroit.

    “She had a difficult time getting credibility because she was in HR before, even though she is an engineer,” says Rebecca Lindland, an industry consultant. “It’s sexism, and I think it’s the HR title.” Her vanilla style probably didn’t help, either. Bob Lutz, the swashbuckling former Marine pilot and legendary car executive, used to fly his own helicopter to work.

    The path to the CEO chair at a massive company like GM is a tricky one, but there are a few rules of thumb that are typically followed. The person would have deep industry experience. Would have a demonstrated career progression and documented success. They would have lots of contacts and allies. And they would have served in leadership roles in more that one discipline - some operations, some sales, some finance, maybe marketing - you get the idea.

    On the surface, it seems Ms. Barra possesses all these qualities, and indeed, one day she may well become the CEO of GM. But if she does not, I wonder if she and others will look back on the (fairly brief) stint as the Head of HR as a mistake. 

    I wonder if she will think that having to spend more than five minutes talking about the gosh darn DRESS CODE as something that tainted her just a little, and reinforced the traditional thinking of HR as the 'rules police' and any head of HR, no matter how enlightened and progressive, as not really a true business leader.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out and whether a former 'HR lady' can become one of world's most powerful 'Car guys'.

    Have a great week!