How 4 HR Execs are Redefining Leadership

The 2018 HR Honor Roll winners have made HR success a reality at their companies.
By: | October 18, 2018 • 15 min read
Topics: HR Leadership
Win prize trophy on wood table with background window.

Each year, HRE unveils its HR Honor Roll—a group that now includes 30 recipients who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in the field of HR. The 2018 winners represent a range of experiences and have brought unique strengths to their respective organizations; however, they share a common commitment to making HR innovation a driver of company success.

This year’s winners are: Dave Kozel, executive vice president and chief HR officer at PVH Corp.; Gale King, executive vice president, chief HR and chief administrative officer at Nationwide; Kevin Silva, executive vice president and chief HR officer at Voya Financial; and David Almeda, senior vice president and chief people officer at Kronos Inc. The following profiles explore how each HR Honor Roll inductee has helped redefine HR leadership:

Scaling Success with Inclusion and Employee Growth

Dave Kozel says the company he joined 15 years ago—PVH Corp.—bears little resemblance to the organization it is today. The clothing wholesaler and retailer grew from 7,500 employees in North America to 36,000 associates worldwide by acquiring global lifestyle brands that include Calvin Klein, Warnaco and Tommy Hilfiger.

In the early days, Kozel says, PVH’s HR function reflected a decades-old personnel department that focused on administrative transactions. Its HR systems were antiquated, and employee training was minimal. Even its internal communication strategy was practically null and void.

Since then, the HR and communication functions have evolved, reflecting a 21st-century workplace. Under Kozel’s guidance, a results-based HR function was built that values inclusion and diversity and supports a variety of communication tools such as an intranet. Hundreds of training opportunities exist for every employee at every level. HR also conducts employee surveys about staff needs and desired changes. Despite these massive improvements, Kozel says, he never considered himself an “HR person,” but rather he simply focused his energies on helping the company be successful.

Employees Rule

The catalyst behind most of these HR changes has been employee feedback from the company’s optional, biannual surveys, says Kozel, adding that the global response rate averages 86 percent. The results are disseminated to senior executives, who are mandated to share them with their department or staff and develop a global action plan to address each key issue.

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One year, for example, employees cited a lack of skills training. So Kozel launched PVH University, which offers hundreds of face-to-face and online employee courses. The curriculum is organized into five academies aligned to support four key initiatives: leadership, inclusion and diversity, professional skills and supply chain. So far, 89 leaders have completed the global-leadership program within the leadership academy, which was designed in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Since women represent 68 percent of PVH’s workforce, a women’s leadership council was also formed, which rotates its 10 members every two years and actively engages in women’s leadership issues, such as upward mobility.

Survey results even influenced the formation of Kozel’s talent acquisition and management team.

“This was a function that didn’t exist,” Kozel says, explaining that the HR team asked a series of questions in areas such as candidate search and assessment to better understand what was and wasn’t working. “We also needed to introduce a succession-planning process for executives. This was all part of building corporate functions.”

Five years ago, one of the issues employees raised was poor internal communication. Too important to place on a back burner, Kozel hired Tiffin Jernstedt to address the issue.

“Dave’s business acumen is incredible,” says Jernstedt, senior vice president of communications at PVH, who directly reports to Kozel. “He really takes the time to understand leaders in each department and really listens to what their business needs are, what they’re trying to accomplish or achieve. Then he puts his HR hat on next.”

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