‘Most Admired for HR’ Leaders Speak Out

CHROs from the "Most Admired for HR" companies discussed their priorities during a panel at HR Tech.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 4 min read
Last year's HR Technology Conference featured the first-ever Most Admired for HR Panel.

This year the HR Tech Conference featured its first-ever panel of CHROs from “The Most Admired Companies for HR,” an annual ranking produced by HRE in partnership with Korn Ferry. The panel, moderated by conference co-chair Steve Boese, included (from left to right in the photo above) Jayne Parker, senior executive vice president and CHRO at The Walt Disney Co.; Peter Fasolo, executive vice president and CHRO at Johnson & Johnson; Ellyn Shook, chief leadership and HR officer at Accenture; Matthew Breitfelder, managing director and chief talent officer at BlackRock; and Joanne Smith, executive vice president and CHRO at Delta Air Lines.

Boese got the discussion started by asking the panelists what “great HR” looks like today.

“HR has evolved during the last five years to the point that it’s now all about human beings, as opposed to people being the subjects of the process,” said Shook. “We can have a very human experience in our companies today thanks in part to technology.”

Later on in the discussion, Shook cited an example: With hundreds of thousands of employees spread across the globe, it’s difficult to impossible for Accenture’s leaders to connect in person with employees at all its locations. These days, Accenture’s leaders are addressing that by attending employee meetings around the world via three-dimensional holograms of themselves when they can’t make it in person.


“They can see our facial expressions, they can see our humblenessit lets us create a more human experience,” she said.

Fasolo said great HR means “having a talent mindset at all times. HR leaders have to be very good at picking winners and getting them to join and stay.”

At Disney, great HR is ensuring that employees feel that their input is valued, said Parker. “We define ourselves as a creative company, and so our employees have to feel their voice is heard. We, as HR leaders, need to both understand the business strategy and ensure employees can have a voice in that.”

Boese asked the panelists what they do to ensure their corporate cultures help drive business outcomes.

“At Johnson & Johnson, we have a proud history of our culture being driven by our credo, which states that our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, patients, mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services,” said Fasolo.

It’s critical, Fasolo added, for companies to ensure that the people they’re putting into leadership positions make it possible “for employees to bring their best selves to work every day.”

The panelists also discussed the importance of diversity and inclusion for business outcomes.

“When you dial up diversity it leads to greater innovation,” said Shook.

As a “storytelling organization”through its movie, television, theme-park and other divisionsDisney knows it can’t tell great stories to a wide audience if the company itself isn’t diverse, said Parker. “The work of diversity is critical. The Disney Co. cannot do what it’s supposed to do for its shareholders without a diverse group of employees,” she said.