People Leaders Are In the Driver’s Seat

For years, people operations leaders had very linear and predictable paths. They would start as a generalist, move to a specialist, and eventually work their way up the ranks to the chief people officer/CHRO role.

This has all changed. More than ever, folks in people operations roles are coming from different departments within companies. Think Lori Goler from Facebook, who moved from marketing into recruiting and eventually became the company’s vice president of people, or Beth Galetti who moved from a CIO role at FedEx to become Amazon’s vice president of human resources.

In fact, two of the panelists from our Illuminate conference panel, “How to Take Advantage of the Latest People Management Trends & Research” got their start in engineering roles.

While discussing her transition from engineering to people tech, Samantha Rist, head of human resources at Katerra, discussed the value in the impact that people leaders have on the organization as a whole. People operations roles are more influential than ever because they have the opportunity to impact the mission and the bottom line through managing engagement.

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How has the CPO/CHRO role changed in the past few years?

The function is now being used more strategically due to the prevalence of data and analytics. People technology is now allowing HR leaders to take back administrative time and reallocate it to take actions and craft strategies around data. Since there are so many parallels between human resources and other departments, HR has a great opportunity to influence things outside of their traditional realm.

Additionally, CEOs are increasingly putting more trust into CPOs to add insights on their companies’ people. CPOs are now expected to tell a story with data.

How to make an impact with your data

Brandon Roberts, head of people insights at Pinterest, said that the biggest mistake companies make is not determining what problems they want to solve with their data.

“Decide on questions you want to answer with data before you start to go out and use data,” he said.

At Qualcomm, Brandon and his team came up with 10 questions that will best inform their people strategy before they even began to gather their data. This allowed them to stay grounded in their objectives before they analyzed their data, which helped them have a greater impact in the long run.

Communicating the importance of data proficiency early on in a company will create a longer lasting culture of data, which will lead to a smarter, more strategic organization.

See more from Illuminate here.