Kerry Chandler, CHRO for global entertainment company Endeavor, was installed recently as one of five new fellows of the National Academy of Human Resources, earning recognition from the nation’s most prestigious HR organization for her work during the pandemic and throughout her career.
Chandler, who joined Endeavor in 2018 from Under Armour and has more than 30 years of experience in HR, was honored as a “transformative leader” who helped the company successfully navigate through the pandemic and the challenges presented by the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Endeavor recently announced that Chandler will be leaving the company at the end of November.
But first, she shared her thoughts about the challenges facing HR heading into 2022.
HRE: What are your biggest concerns as an HR leader today, both in your organization and industry and in the profession at large? Why are these items at the top of your list heading into the end of 2021 and looking ahead to 2022?
Chandler: The pandemic was a catalyst for so many of us to reflect on what matters most in this life and how best to marry our purpose with our day-to-day work. I spend a lot of time thinking about how companies can ensure their cultures reflect (and best support) their people–that sense of “I am valued for who I am AND what I do”–as that alignment is so critical to a company’s ability to secure and keep best-in-class talent. For HR executives, figuring out how to help link the two is magical and an enormous opportunity.
HRE: The role of HR changed dramatically last year and continues to evolve with the pandemic and other shifts in the world. What are the most important skill sets HR leaders of tomorrow will need to fulfill those roles?
Chandler: Resilience, influence, courage and creativity are non-negotiable requirements. To exercise those skills, as HR executives we have to make sure we are working at organizations and with executives where our values are aligned.
HRE: We’re curious about the role of technology and your involvement in HR and/or work technology. How much has that shifted in the past 18 months? Is that still shifting and developing? Are you collaborating with new partners on technology? What have you learned?
Chandler: Data has always played an important role in the HR function—it is through data that we discover what matters most to employees: how they are performing, what they care about and whether or not they are truly engaged with the company and their work. There are both homegrown data solutions and an abundance of partners to help with this work. But the secret sauce is in finding the balance between data and real human connection, as there’s still so much that can only be learned through conversation and observation.
HRE: What has surprised you the most about how workplaces have adapted to the sweeping changes that have taken place since March 2020–from remote and hybrid work to urgency around DEI progress to pressures around employee mental health, physical safety and so much more?
Chandler: Despite the warning signs, the pandemic hit most companies like a meteor. HR executives had to lean in hard, and literally help our companies survive. As I reflect on this time, I am most struck by how this crisis exposed the underbelly of who we all are as executives, what we care about most, how we navigate through tremendous change, and most importantly, how we show up for each other and all employees during a time of crisis.
The same holds true when we were faced with the enough is enough racial awakening here in the States—we now have had enough time to see where our companies meant what we said and where we didn’t. This is real work–every bit of effort put into it is worth it, and when done with authenticity, will reap tremendous rewards. For me, there were more confirmations than surprises.
Check back soon to hear from the other new fellows: Rhonda Morris, CHRO, Chevron; Michael O’Hare, CHRO, The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.; Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and chief human resources officer, Accenture, plc.; and Perry Stuckey, senior vice president and CHRO, Eastman Chemical Co.