Episode 260: The Role of the CHRO Leading a Global Organization

Today’s podcast is part of a series on the Workology Podcast focused on the role and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer, or CHRO. The CHRO is an executive or C-level role that deals with managing human resources, as well as with organizational development and implementing policies of change to improve the overall efficiency of the company. The CHRO Podcast series on Workology is powered by HUB International. One of the reasons I wanted to do this series is because there is a lot of mystery around the CHRO role. I want aspiring CHRO’s to know what type of skills and experiences they need to promote into a future CHRO role along with hearing from senior HR leadership how they are partnering and collaborating with their executive peers. 

Episode 260: The Role of the CHRO Leading a Global Organization with Jane Keith (@JaneKeith

How do CHRO’s work within a global organization? In this interview I dive into the subject of being a global CHRO and how this role can impact change management and communication for employees in countries around the world. I talked with Jane Keith, CHRO of IFS. Jane leads the human resources program at IFS to ensure optimal employee engagement, recruitment, talent management, and business HR across the global organization in 24 countries.  

“I think if you can hire and hire well, you'll be successful in any role.” - Jane Keith #HR #Recruiting #CHRO Click To Tweet

Jane has been with IFS for two years after working for more than 24 years at Hewlett Packard and Hewlett Packard Enterprise as the UK HR Director and the HR Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Jane also worked for two years as HR leader for the European Services and Consulting business at SAP. I asked Jane how HR communication and change management works for a large organization that is spread out over 24 countries. 

“I think it’s the marketing mantra: communication, communication, communication. I think if people feel you’re shut away in a room and there’s something going on and you’re not sharing that journey or even giving insights, people will worry and they will be very adverse to change because they don’t know why you’re doing it, what the outcomes should be, what how it affects them as an individual,” said Jane. “Whether you’re introducing a new tool, a new process, a transformation program, or totally restructuring the organization, you need good change management practices to support strategy like that. You can’t just expect it to land. It won’t work. You will fail. I’ve experienced that in the past where it’s very prescriptive and people feel like they’ve been done to, rather than being part of the solution.”

“If you want HR to have a seat at the table, you need to understand how the business ticks.” - Jane Keith #HR #Recruiting #CHRO Click To Tweet

The CHRO Role in Change Management

Jane recently supported a huge change initiative at IFS to get the global teams all on the same infrastructure and platform. I asked about how a rollout of a change this size worked for her company. She said the company brought in a change management consultant, assigned a steering committee, set up work streams and asked for volunteers to help lead the change. “We started by facilitating shared insights of what we wanted the outcome to be. And then we put the work streams together. We put a lot of funding behind it and did a kick off where we got everyone in the same country in the same room and ran a two-day workshop so that the team automatically felt connected with each other. We listened to the feedback that they gave us. We adjusted course where necessary.”

“Be brave and take the old versions away because people have a natural habit of going back to what they know.” - Jane Keith #HR #Recruiting #CHRO Click To Tweet

Jane shared another facet of this rollout that I thought was a great takeaway for HR leaders working to support changes within their companies. “We created super users of the tool. On the day that we launched, we had all the super users in t-shirts walking the floor of the offices, with ‘can I help you’ on the back and they would sit down and show people how to use the new tool. I mean, it was really quite exciting. We made a big buzz around it. We had stuff up on TV screens, town halls. We really celebrated the fact that this was our product and we were kind of launching it to ourselves.” Jane added that engaging a consultant who is an expert in change management to work with the company was key to their success. And they did it in six months, which is pretty unusual.

It’s interesting to delve into how a role like CHRO whose experience more closely connects them to the strategy and operations of the overall business works with the rest of a company leadership team, especially on a global scale. The CHRO doesn’t just lead HR within a company, the role is also key to structuring the leadership for a company’s executive team. I appreciate Jane taking the time to share her experience with us.

Connect with Jane Keith.



Jane Keith on LinkedIn

– IFS Twitter

– CHRO Job Description

– Your Guide to the HR Organization and Team Structures

– Episode 256: The Role of the CHRO in the First 90 Days

– Episode Transcript


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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