Why 2021 has been a time for ‘HR to shine’

After a more than two-decade HR career at Goldman Sachs, in 2013 Richard Stingi transferred his people experiences in the financial sector to Broadridge Financial Solutions–a fin-tech company that spun off from ADP just a few years previously. Its unique origin has served to drive a culture of growth, innovation and curiosity–which Stingi now is responsible for cultivating as the CHRO, a position he landed in February after several months in the top HR job on an interim basis.

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As he wraps up his first year in the job, Stingi recently reflected on taking on the new role during the pandemic and the opportunities and challenges facing HR leaders everywhere.

HRE: A Broadridge employee once wrote that, despite being a “big, public company,” the organization also feels like a “small, start-up tech company.” Has cultivating that environment been an intentional part of the HR strategy and, if so, how do you balance those two worlds?

Richard Stingi Broadridge Financial Solutions
Richard Stingi

Stingi: Our organization was actually built in a number of different ways. We’re partially a tech company, and we’re also a financial services company; that was based on Broadridge being a spin-off from ADP. We’ve always been very inquisitive over the years and, as we’ve grown, we’ve had to scale to become more of a tech company. As I think about those different organizational personalities, we really need to be able to flex in all those directions. We’re not a homogenous population. So, that quote is reflecting the fact that we try to give our people the resources they need to do the job and perform–but we can’t be overly prescriptive about who we are as an organization.

HRE: How is Broadridge embracing emerging technology in its people strategy?

Stingi: The pandemic really catapulted our technology strategy and how we work together in a positive way. As we’ve grown and scaled as a global organization, our ability to look and feel like a small company has been strained and the evolution into a virtual environment really has helped us bridge that gap to stay connected and maintain that smaller-company feel. I think about the example of a conference call where you have four or five people in a room and maybe four or five people on the phone; now to transition into having 10 or 12 squares on a laptop, everyone feels like an equal part of the conversation. In a strange way, the pandemic really bolstered our efforts to incorporate technology into the way we interact day-to-day.

Read more Insights from a CHRO here.

HRE: You came into the CHRO position during the pandemic; how do you think that affected your own outlook on the role?

Stingi: As I’ve gained experience in my life, I learned to try to turn everything that seems daunting or challenging into an opportunity. That’s how I tried to approach the position and also [managing] our team. The challenges the pandemic brought upon Broadridge–and everyone on the planet, for that matter–created a unique opportunity for HR to be front and center in terms of how we were going to solve the problems. For the first time in my HR career, business leaders were waking up every day thinking about questions they hadn’t contemplated before about HR and looking to me and my team to solve those problems. That honestly felt great; we [in HR] always ask for a seat at the table and sometimes HR processes can be seen as a burden, but here we’re being seen as a solution–for how to work together, how to communicate, how to lead people and create outcomes for our teams. Overall, it’s been an opportunity for HR to shine.

HRE: Given the transformations of the last year-and-a-half, what are the top skills HR leaders of tomorrow need to hone for success?

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Stingi: I don’t think the secret formula is really any different going forward than it’s always been. I think about HR as a facilitator for leadership. For business leaders working on recruiting, retaining and training folks, HR is in the background trying to make it easier for leaders to do all those things in a way that facilitates positive outcomes. The dimensions of that challenge changed a bit because of the pandemic but it’s the same concept: How do we arm leaders with the tools they need to get the most of their teams, to find the best people, to engage their associates in a way that’s going to make us achieve our business goals?

Related: 5 things to learn from the World’s Most Admired Companies

HRE: What is the best HR advice you’ve gotten in your career?

The best–and this is both for my own development and how I think about leaders–is that you should always be looking to round yourself out. There are certain things you may be really good at and that come naturally to you but other places where you haven’t had a lot of experience or that may be uncomfortable to embrace but that you should work to develop more.

And when you’re on a team, surround yourself with people who are actually the opposite of you. We have a natural tendency–especially early in our careers–to hire and surround ourselves with people who are the mirror images of ourselves but, to get more experience, the secret formula is to actually go toward the people who have the opposite skills as you and round out the talent stack.

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected].