Hank Jackson (President and CEO, SHRM) enunciates to The Human Factor the pride that lies in serving the interests of SHRM’s 250,000 members, and supporting them to become Business Leaders.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), was founded as long back as 1948, with the aim of bringing together a global association of HR practitioners and professionals. SHRM today, under the leadership of President and CEO Hank Jackson, who took over from Laurence (Lon) O’Neil, includes a global membership of more than 250,000 from 120 countries including Canada, China, United Kingdom, Australia, Bermuda, Japan, Singapore, Trinidad, Bahamas, and Germany. Realising the need for employability and workforce readiness to sustain and enhance the growth of a nation, this not-for-profit institution has invested in education, research, and surveys in order to initiate action wherever it is required. Supporting Hank and his team from India is G. Ravindran, who is heading SHRM India, which was set up in 2005 as a wholly owned subsidiary of SHRM as an outgrowth of the SHRM mission to Serve the Professional (STP) and Advance the Profession (ATP). As globalisation becomes a daily reality for businesses, and with India playing a significant role in this ever-changing landscape, SHRM realises the importance of linking global and India based HR professionals through information sharing and networks, and it is SHRM India’s agenda to bring global thinking and best practices to the country for the betterment of all HR practitioners. This exclusive interview with The Human Factor brings together mission details from both Hank and Ravi to showcase to our readers a holistic perspective of the institution that today is SHRM.
Q. With your education base in Accounting and your strong career background in Auditing and Finance, what led you to accept this position?
A. I happily accepted the position as SHRM’s interim president and CEO because I believe human resources and talent management — not numbers — are the major drivers of business success and effective leadership. I started my career as an auditor specialising in technology assessments. Essentially, I fixed problems. But I learned quickly that the right solutions always required the right people. Having the right people in the right jobs is the key to success. So, while many people think of me as a “numbers” person, I think of myself as an HR person. I have learned that finding, investing in, and managing people’s talents is the only way to truly make progress. It is what energises me every day to make sure SHRM is providing the information and support our members need to be business leaders.
Q. Share with us more about your journey and the milestones that led you here to SHRM.
A. I have had the privilege of working in many aspects of business – from technology and healthcare to finance and business affairs. My career has included working with unions, real estate, and academia. Along the way, I assumed greater and greater HR responsibilities, which helped prepare me for my career at SHRM, first as Global Chief of Finance and Business Affairs, and now as interim president and CEO. I started my career with Peat Marwick Mitchell – now KPMG – as an auditor. From there, I was recruited by Howard University in Washington, D.C., as a systems accountant and rose to become Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Affairs. By the time I left Howard, I was responsible for a hospital, commercial radio station, public television station, medical practice plan, relations with 11 unions, one of the largest real estate portfolios in D.C., as well as a university with 18 schools and colleges. What makes me most proud – day in and day out – is knowing that I am serving the interests of SHRM’s 250,000 members. Especially after a harsh economic year like 2009, knowing SHRM had prepared financially for the worst – and it was the worst – we were able to maintain our high-level of service and commitment to our members to help them manage through the downturn.
Q. Having been associated with SHRM since 2006, how has the body evolved? What is the mission that you seek to undertake for global HR today?
A. At the start of 2009, SHRM undertook a strategic business review. It was an intensive process of examination and analysis that involved in-depth interviews with hundreds of people including SHRM members, business leaders, government policy-makers, and outside experts. We wanted to know how best to serve our members and the HR profession not just during the current economic downturn, but into the future. And we wanted SHRM to succeed in a fast-changing global environment. There were three principal outcomes from the review: we defined a new vision for SHRM; we created a richer and broader mission for the Society; and we formed strategic priorities that will guide our growth for the next five years. As we implement our new strategic business plan, we will need to: build partnerships with other organisations that help us address people management challenges; provide a global community for human resource professionals to share expertise and solutions; provide thought leadership, education and research; and be an advocate on the most critical issues facing workplaces and the HR profession.
Q. As the overseer of management and operation of this vast organisation, how do you ensure smooth functioning for SHRM?
A. Open communication and collaboration across the organisation are essential. We encourage employees to look for ways to involve other departments in their work, to explore synergies, and to create great greater value for our members by working in cross-functional teams. Also, we hold all-employee meetings every month to discuss new projects and the state of our business, and I write a weekly operations report that goes to all employees. This approach has led to several innovative solutions, new product ideas, and a greater understanding of our strategic goals among all of our employees.
Q. What key policy initiatives have you introduced or do you have in the pipeline to take SHRM a step closer towards achieving its vision?
A. For the past year, our organisation has been integrating our new business plan – and its strategic elements – into everything we do. Our focus is on developing new ways to serve and strengthen our membership; to become a more global organisation; to be an advocate, advisor and thought leader by engaging senior business leaders and experts; and to be financially sustainable. In this regard, I am particularly proud of SHRM’s Annual Conference this past June. I believe it was the best Annual Conference we have ever convened. And we are already developing new products and content for an even better conference in Las Vegas in 2011. We are committed to investing in the people and strategies to benefit from emerging opportunities in the social media space. Social media had a significant presence at the 2010 Annual Conference where we sponsored a social media lounge, launched a YouTube Channel, and promoted SHRM Connect – a new social networking platform created specifically for SHRM members – that is continuing to grow and evolve. And through partnerships with organisations like the US-India Business Council – and through new SHRM-sponsored research, we will continue to strive to know what is next, so that our members can anticipate, prepare for, and take advantage of change. We are showing business leaders and policy-makers that “HR knows next.”
Q. What is your leadership style, and who in your opinion, would an ideal leader be?
A. Trust your instincts, be honest to yourself and the people you serve, and respect others. Above all, always remember that everything we do should bring value and knowledge to our members – and help advance the HR profession. For me, a successful leader must bridge the inevitable gap between his or her organisation’s experience and its vision. Individuals who deserve the power to lead are those who justify it by their actions every day. I have been fortunate to have people in my personal life and my work environment believe in me and support my vision for the future. I firmly believe that it is the people around you who ultimately make you successful.
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nice to see mr jackson speak about the success.
Commented by Rahul Sharma on August 27,2011