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HRE announces an impressive slate of winners in its 2010 HR's Rising Stars competition. This year's HR's Rising Stars already exhibit the kind of strategic leadership, forward thinking and analytical capabilities that many CHROs possess -- and suggest the pool of top HR talent is still being fed, nurtured and recognized for their accomplishments.

Thursday, July 1, 2010
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At our inaugural Human Resource Executive Forum®, held this past April in New York, we heard quite a lot of talk about what is lacking in HR leadership development today.

At an April 12 bonus session prior to the conference, Cornell University professor Patrick M. Wright, director of the school's Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies, presented a study showing some pretty disappointing numbers of chief human resource officers coming into their functions from outside HR -- a bit of an indictment on HR's ability to cultivate its own.

The Chief Human Resource Officer: Shifting Roles & Challenges, the first CHRO survey conducted by CAHRS, shows only one-third (36 percent) of CHROs being promoted from within HR and 54 percent coming from roles held outside HR. Also in the study, CHROs cite talent gaps in the HR function as a major obstacle to delivering on the CEO's priorities and meeting strategic objectives.

In short, Wright told his audience, "HR talent development is abysmal."

The following day, at a panel session examining the skills and competencies HR leaders need to be effective, moderated by Wharton School professor Peter Cappelli, director of the school's Center for Human Resources, talk once again veered toward what's lacking today in the young, high-performing HR professional's on-the-job development.

"There are things that seem to be missing in the HR candidates we see," said panelist Michael Peel, vice president of human resources and administration for Yale University. "Things like technical breadth, how to approach business transformation, organization redesign ... how to bring about those solutions. HR people don't know how to do that."

Panelists agreed that more HR hi-pos need tougher stretch assignments; they need to be given the reins of projects much earlier than they're getting them now.

More CHROs need to be guiding their future leaders away from the old way of doing HR, "the kind that has been historically reactive, [and toward a new] strategically proactive" function, said panelist Elease E. Wright, senior vice president of human resources for Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna. HR up-and-comers, she said, need to be held "accountable to those new requirements, and if they're not performing, then move them out of that job."

Not only was I there, taking it all in and taking it all down; so was Charlie Tharp, executive vice president for policy at the Center on Executive Compensation, a division of the HR Policy Association. It so happens both of us are judges for HRE's annual HR's Rising Stars competition.

In fact, the week before, we had just finished deciding on our five winners for this, our fifth, competition -- along with fellow judges Michele Darling, president of Michele Darling and Associates in Mississauga, Ontario; and Gregory Hessel, senior client partner and global director of the human resource practice at Korn/Ferry International's Dallas offices.

Tharp and I shared a smile and marveled at the dichotomy between what we were hearing and the caliber of the winners we had just chosen -- whose profiles appear in the following pages. Just goes to show you how ahead of the class they really are, we agreed.

Indeed, not only do this year's HR's Rising Stars already exhibit the kind of strategic leadership, forward thinking and analytical capabilities that many CHROs possess; the quality and quantity of nominations -- double what we've had in past years with many more submitted by CHROs themselves as opposed to other senior leaders -- suggest the pool of top HR talent is still being fed, and at least some top HR leaders are still doing what it takes to nurture their star performers and recognize them for their accomplishments.

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We trust you'll find these profiles as heartening as we do. 

These are the 2010 HR's Rising Stars:

A Dynamo in The Energy Field: Tana Cashion

The Quintessential Collaborator: Nancy Wolfe

The Innovator: Prasad Setty

Inspired by Human Performance: Adam Malamut

The Change Agent: Kevin Close


Kristen B. Frasch is the managing editor of Human Resource Executive® magazine.

See also:

Fun Facts

Project Oxygen

HR Leadership-Development Study

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