Reimagining HR: Career Paths To New Levels – Including the CEO Seat!





Today’s guest author is: Joanne Rencher, Founder of WGN in HR and Chief People Officer for Girl Scouts of USA.

Blow up HR.  Disrupt it.  Embed it in the business. Outsource all of it.  Move HR Operations somewhere else in the company. Don’t talk about it so much.  Talk more about it.

This article is tackling none of that.  It’s all about you, HR professional.

WGN Post

Twenty-three years ago I was thrust into the world of business with only a dream and a belief that I could change the world.  One bond insurance company, global NGO, consulting stint and two iconic institutions later – I still believe that.  My dream has always been to lead.  I view it as the highest calling in business. It is a responsibility to take others where there may not want to go, but need to be, as Rosalynn Carter once said.

 The HR Journey (the field, but not the person)

The field of HR itself is a televised revolution of sorts.  It has moved from 20th personnel administration and compliance as its textbook definition, to acquiring different territory with 21st century character.  ‘Strategic business partner’ and ‘change agent’ increasingly reflect the fine lines of this newer model.  Dave Ulrich, a leader in business and champion of HR, continues to push the envelope around how the field must stay relevant.  In discussing one of his more recent books, ‘HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources’, Ulrich noted that ‘for the last 20 years, we have been enamored with “strategic” HR where the strategy is a mirror that reflects what HR should focus on.  We now believe that HR should look through the strategy to the outside world.  Strategy becomes a window on both the general business conditions and on specific stakeholder expectations so that HR can connect their work to external factors.’

However, as this wonderful evolution continues and businesses come to realize the importance of data analytics in their HR functions, and the next wave of marketing-based talent acquisition – HR leaders seem, in a word….stuck.  In fact, I fear that the dreams of HR leaders to aspire to new and different heights are being deferred.  What happens to a dream deferred? Langston Hughes has already explored the possibilities: rotted dreams, dried up dreams, those which fester or perhaps explode.  We mustn’t let that happen.

Our HR Journey (the person beyond the field)

With amazing talent and skills in organizational effectiveness, talent development, and transformational leadership – in theory and practice – there should be far more HR professionals moving through the ranks of senior leadership, within and outside of HR.

The dearth of leadership development focus and opportunities is supported by a global executive survey recently released by Korn Ferry.  The study, which included over 700 executives, asked about the state of professional development for human resource managers within their organizations.

Roughly two-thirds said that development programs for senior HR leaders were not “as rigorous” as programs for leaders of other functions in their organizations.

More to the point, just over half of respondents said HR people were considered for high-potential programs, but nearly 60 percent said there was no succession plan for their organization’s CHRO!

 From Shoemaker to Runway

HR is the classic case of the shoemaker’s children.  We take care of everyone else to the neglect of ourselves.  But, it’s more than just benign neglect. I believe it’s the need to break the paradigm….that, in fact, is the thing which must be blown up.

I founded Who’s Got Next in HR?, Inc. (WGNinHR) to do exactly that.  We’re blowing up the paradigm that says how rare it is for HR professionals to go to higher heights – whatever that means.  The vision of WGNinHR ( is to create the tools, the soil and practical advice for the tired, innovative, ambitious and business-oriented HR professional looking for ‘what’s next’.

No one will do it for us.  We must create and sustain this movement ourselves.  In fact, I often describe WGNinHR as a ‘Movement’.  The world of business needs more C-Suite leaders – including CEOs – who have rich HR backgrounds and can lead through the toughest of terrains.

So, as you’re waiting for the next new model or opinion on the field of HR, abandon the ‘seat-at-the-table’ conversations and start setting the table.  Join the movement!

Joanne Rencher Biography

With more than 22 years of experience across the profit, non-profit, domestic and global arenas, Joanne brings a wealth of executive leadership experience to her roles. She currently serves as the Chief People Officer of the national office of the Girl Scouts of the USA – the preeminent leadership development organization for girls – and is a member of the executive team. With a passion for developing business leaders across the HR field, Joanne recently founded Who’s Got Next in HR?, Inc. (WGNinHR) to challenge conventional wisdom around career paths for HR professionals. Joanne holds a B.S. in Business, Management and Economics from the State University of New York’s Empire State College.



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