Excerpts from @Work Talent + HR Conference

Adam Bryant, Managing Director, Merryck & Co.; Fmr. “Corner Office” columnist, New York Times: The role of CHRO is a tremendously difficult job that is driving corporate culture and business. More and more leaders see human resources as an accelerant for growth. A lot of CEOs want a strategic CHRO, but many are not sure what that means. To be effective, the CHRO has to have a voice in the boardroom and build strong relationships with C-suite leaders.

You are the ones that have to stand up for what is true and valuable and make the tough calls. You have to build a reputation as being the honest broker.

Communicate to the CEO that HR is going to drive the business, bring data to the discussion, take a big picture view of the organization. The key is how you structure a matrix organization. You can’t win if you are operating in silos.

Donna Morris, Chief Human Resources Officer and EVP, Employee Experience, Adobe: What is unique is that all companies are going through a digital transformation right now. HR experts now have to ask: ‘How do you build an environment where people are constantly adaptive learners?’

That’s because all organizations are being disrupted, and you need to build an environment where people are curious and open to learning new things. Jobs don’t remain static anymore. There is a big learning component to the CHRO role today. It’s important to have a learning agenda in place that is going to drive the business.

For that reason, I believe cultures have to keep evolving. My role at Adobe is to really make sure a company is living by its values and bringing examples to the table of where we can do better.

CHRO is the loneliest job. It’s a lot decision-making that can’t be shared. Independently advising your peers, CEO and board can leave you in a lonely space.

Kathleen Hogan, Chief People Officer & EVP of HR, Microsoft: Everyone around the boardroom table, including the CEO, has to be on the journey with you so you can drive the trajectory of the business.

Microsoft’s CEO asks for feedback from me and often shares it with the top leadership executives of the company. That is important. On a recent company leadership offsite, he shared my insights with the top 200 executives of Microsoft.

The role of CHRO is a series of balancing acts. I wear multiple hats. I run the HR function for Microsoft. As the chief people officer, I have to connect with 130,000 employees across 190 countries to advocate for them. I am the HR business decision maker who partners with the CEO. In addition, I help on the customers’ agenda for the company and how we serve them.

It’s important to work with the company’s leadership team to have shared responsibility on strategy.

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