Despite acknowledgment around the world that talent is integral to competitiveness and that today’s business is all about people, HR professionals still struggle to establish their relevance in the C-suite in most industries. Some of the fault lies with CEOs, who typically fail to define what they expect from their heads of HR. HR professionals are also to be blamed as they tend to alienate themselves from the challenges of the business and the quarter-to-quarter pressures that other functions face. This even results in many CEOs choosing non-HR professionals for the top HR job.
The reality is that businesses need to handle HR’s core competency of managing people issues – such as finding and recruiting the right people and nurturing & motivating them to succeed in today’s complex business environment – to grow. This begs the question: Has the time come for professionals in HR to build a career path to business roles as naturally as their peers in other business functions?
Our cover story explores the strengths that HR heads bring to the table, the challenges that will come their way in the journey to the top job, and explores the real stories of those who today play a business role having grown from HR.
Our research also brought us to question whether becoming a CEO was even an ambition. We asked over 70 heads of HR across India if they wanted to continue in HR or move to a business role and interestingly 50 per cent said they wanted to stay in HR, while 27 per cent said they would like to move to a business role. The rest said they would like to explore opportunities in entrepreneurship or advisory.
So if you are among the other half that wants to explore options beyond the HR function, whether it is entrepreneurship or a line role, this issue will tell you what it takes. It lays out the options for you to evaluate whether your career trajectory will allow you to be effective should you have the option to make the switch. And if you are just starting out in your career, it shows how you can plan to make yourself a serious contender for the CEO’s seat by the time you reach the head of the HR function.
The journey from HR to CEO requires a complete change of point of reference, and comes with many challenges: Working under intense performance pressure, working under the influence of many factors which are not under your control, gaining the ability to manage a 360 degree view of the business, managing sales and investors beyond the HR metrics. In order to succeed in this new avatar, one needs to re-skill completely. Nothing in your HR experience really trains you for that, as our interviews show.
If you are ready, read on. And let us know what you thought of this edition. As always, we welcome your inputs, your participation and engagement.
Do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback and suggestions.
We look forward to hearing from you. Happy reading.
Esther Martinez Hernandez
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