On Behalf of Our Future CHROs, Thank You (i4cp login required)


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In a season where frustration and fatigue are common emotions almost everywhere you look, we have experienced the joy of getting to know more than 25 up-and-coming HR leaders over the last several months. I want to extend my gratitude to everyone who has taken part in the Up Next Cohort, and who will be involved in 2022.

The Up Next Cohort is a select opportunity for aspiring CHROs to learn, network and grow into becoming next-generation HR leaders. Along with my colleague Nina Holtsberry, we are in the home stretch of completing our second cohort this year.

What a great opportunity it has been to connect with future HR executives from diverse and reputable companies such as Tiffany, Nordstrom, 3M, Experian, Domino’s Pizza, Takeda, Dolby Labs, Optum, Zillow, Humana, HP Enterprises, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Northwestern Mutual, BASF, Five Guys, Envision Health, Asurion, Wakefern Foods, URW, Mercury Systems, Smartsheet, BAE, SC Johnson and Columbia Bank. Thank you to all who have taken part, several of whom have already advanced into a coveted CHRO position.

We of course couldn’t have guided this next wave of HR leaders without the assistance of experienced CHROs who have enthusiastically invested their time and energy into the cohort. A few people I specifically want to thank:

Dr. Mark Blankenship, retired people executive at the Jack-In-The-Box restaurant group, challenges the cohort to take active steps that build business acumen. Mark lays out a framework that links brand, strategy and organization to focus on optimizing shareholder return. His presentation helps cohort members focus on customers, how the brand triggers certain emotions and is positioned relative to competitors in their industry.

Dave Gartenberg is the former CHRO with Avanade, and a long-time mentor of up-and-coming HR talent. Dave provides an overview of common organizational models, and helps the cohort members focus on the link between org type and people strategy.

Dave’s colleague Tim Knezivich, Chief Learning Officer of Avanade, adds an important pragmatic component to the topic.

Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp and a leading expert on enterprise culture, leads the cohort through a fascinating set of guiding principles to “renovate” culture in a positive and meaningful way. Kevin is the recent author of “Culture Renovation: Leadership Actions to Build an Unshakeable Company” and shares relevant stories and examples from his research into organizations that leverage culture to establish competitive advantage.

In addition to presentations on Influencing (Lorrie Lykins, i4cp VP of Research) and Executive Compensation (Ivor Solomon, i4cp Chair of Total Rewards Leader Board), the cohort has opportunity to interact with “Get Real” guests who share their personal stories, challenges and wins—from their experience in the CHRO role at leading companies. Guests have included:

  • Diane Gherson (former CHRO, IBM)
  • Loren Heeringa (former CHRO, Land of Lakes)
  • Rudy Robles (Ops Leader JITB)
  • Bruce Smith (CEO, Detroit Manufacturing Systems)
  • Kalen Holmes (former CHRO, Starbucks)
  • Jennifer Landis (CHRO, Black Hills Corp)
  • Ana White (CHRO, F5 Networks)
  • Skip Spriggs (former CHRO, TIAA)

Many of the individuals above will lend their expertise to the 2022 Up Next Cohort, which kicks off in March in an all-day forum. For more information on the cohort, curriculum and available seats for calendar 2022, please email program director Nina.Holtsberry@i4cp.com.

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