Episode 263: The Role of the CHRO Leading Change

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 263: The Role of the CHRO Leading Change With Deb LaMere (@DebLaMere)

How do CHRO’s handle change management within a global organization? In this interview, I dive into the subject of how the CHRO role can impact change management and communication for employees in countries around the world. I talked with Deb LaMere, Vice President of Human Resources at Datasite. Prior to joining Datasite in 2019, Deb served in several senior employee engagement roles at Ceridian, including Employee Engagement Product Manager for key modules of Ceridian’s cloud HRIS system and Vice President, Employee Experience & Culture. Prior to that, she was a Senior HR Consultant at Lawson Software and held several HR leadership roles at Allina Hospitals & Clinics in Minneapolis.

Deb started her career in HR, working at an HR service center right out of college and in a number of HR roles as generalist, benefits analyst, specialist, consultant, and business partner – all of which led her to a leadership position on the executive team. “I think it comes down to being able to deal with ambiguity, to be adaptable…once you get to the CHRO you have to be prepared to pivot, not just on your own, but for your entire team,” said Deb.

“As CHRO, you’re there to help guide people through transitions and difficult situations.” - @Deb LaMere #CHRO #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet

With a global team of 800, I asked Deb to talk about how her company has supported employees through COVID. “We’ve been working on this for a year now; it started in AsiaPac and we have a large presence in Asia…we implemented a plan to have people start working from home and moved as quickly as possible to get our teams running remotely. In March, we went completely, globally to work from home,” said Deb. “Supporting newly remote employees during a pandemic. Mental health is hugely important. We have Wellness Wednesday where we do virtual workouts, but we also launched a training for managers to help them support employees’ mental health.” The company also began to offer “recharge days,” where employees could take a day off just to step away from work and take care of home and family.

“We want people to be able to bring their best selves to work, and they can’t do that by working all the time.” - @Deb LaMere #CHRO #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet

I asked Deb how she keeps up with the geographically specific information that impacts their employees. “We partnered with our in-house counsel and external legal partners, but the team and I spend a lot of time scouring the news. We put together a return to work committee that helps with communications to make sure that we’re keeping our employees up to date.”

The CHRO Role in Change Management

I asked Deb about the strategies she has used recently to help drive the adoption of new technology or other company wide changes. “You can put a new technology in, but it comes down to adoption. We implemented the Bonus.ly system for rewards and recognition, but it wasn’t replacing another program. For our ERP, it was about retraining and learning to use a new system. Change management is a journey of transparency and really getting others involved.”

“Datasite began a rebranding just as the shutdown began, so it meant we had to pivot and think about how to rebrand while everyone was working from home, but it’s really the same process in getting team members involved.” 

Change management is one of the most important skill sets that CHROs can have. Deb said that if “we learned anything from 2020, we have to be ready to pivot, be transparent, be open, and be there for our employees.”

Datasite has been global for almost a year now and had just moved into new headquarters in Michigan right before the shutdown, but that building has been empty for almost a year now. “When we talk about the new normal, I don’t think we’ll return to exactly how things were. We will return to the office eventually, but we also discovered that we’re getting a lot done virtually, we’ve had new product releases in 2020. I think the war for talent is spiraling back up again, as we have the ability to recruit from anywhere for remote positions.”

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 Deb taking the time to share her experience with us.

Connect with Deb LaMere.



– Deb LaMere on LinkedIn

– Deb LaMere on Twitter

– Datasite on Twitter

– Datasite Careers Page

– CHRO Job Description

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

– 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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