HRE's 2012 HR's Rising Stars exemplify the types of initiative and dedication to personal and organizational growth that will likely propel them to the tops of HR organizations -- or perhaps even higher -- one day. In different ways, they've all taken on problems and called them their own, showing personal initiative and conviction in overcoming them and helping their organizations grow.
We're proud to introduce you to some very talented and unique HR professionals, the five winners of our seventh annual HR's Rising Stars contest.
Every year, members of our selection panel -- myself included -- face different and difficult challenges trying to finalize the slate of candidates we feel most exemplify the types of human resource leaders who will one day be heading up their own HR organizations.
This year was especially trying as we found ourselves grappling with some of our own criteria: Should they be solving out-of-the-ordinary HR challenges at the same level of difficulty that a chief human resource officer might contend with? Would a winner have to step outside the contours of his or her role to perform herculean feats or could an assigned job well done be performed in such a way to lift a candidate to rising-star status?
The answer: It all depends -- on the challenges they face, their leadership and poise in solving them, the industries they navigate and, most importantly, the marks they leave on their functions and tasks at hand.
As in past years, all of our 2012 Rising Stars have left, and continue to leave, impressive imprints on the roles they've been given. In different ways, they've all taken on problems and called them their own, showing personal initiative and conviction in overcoming them and helping their organizations grow.
Also, like last year, these winners seem to be calling on an ever-widening array of skills and backgrounds to fill the shoes of tomorrow's top HR leaders . . . and, in a sense, breathe some diversity and new life into the function and the people it serves. Some might even take their enhanced skills elsewhere, diversifying and invigorating other top functions as well.
Lincoln Financial Group's Matthew Geis has a bachelor's degree in political science from Towson University, where he played football. Having started his HR career after spending a number of years running his own business, he brought business savvy, relationship-building skills and an entrepreneurial spirit to his achievements in recruiting, leadership development, organizational design, performance management . . . the list goes on.
Hospira's Pamela Puryear dipped into a well of experiences -- with an education in organizational psychology and organizational development, and prior careers in real estate and consulting -- to design, develop and deliver impressive development plans for leaders and employees, as well as a much-needed cross-cultural solution for a new acquisition in India.
Corey Turner of Jones Lang LaSalle -- with degrees in rehabilitation and Spanish, and stints in rehabilitation counseling and recruiting -- weathered intense hiring challenges in an industry already challenged and compromised, and did it with creativity, compassion and a commitment to diversity.
The Internal Revenue Service's Susan Greer started her career as a field investigator with the Office of Personnel Management and later -- with the IRS -- worked as a security program analyst. From recruiting to strategic-leadership development, she, too, has put a special stamp of personal initiative and ownership on everything she's accomplished.
And, like Puryear, Express Scripts' Melanie Curtis brought strengths from an organizational-psychology education and background -- survey methodology, statistical analysis, and drivers of employee engagement and culture creation -- to lead her company through some huge transformations in the way leaders are developed and assessed, and the way all employees handle change.
Can this panel see these five as CHROs one day? Without question. We're also excited and intrigued to see what future contests yield.
As in the past, judges for this year's contest included Charlie Tharp, executive vice president for policy at the Center on Executive Compensation, a division of the HR Policy Association, and former senior vice president of human resources for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; Michele Darling, president of Michele Darling and Associates in Mississauga, Ontario, and former executive vice president of corporate governance and human resources for Prudential Insurance Co.; Gregory Hessel, senior client partner with the Human Resources Center of Expertise at Korn/Ferry International's Dallas offices; and Kristen B. Frasch, managing editor of Human Resource Executive® magazine.
This year, the panel also welcomed John Boudreau, professor at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and research director of its Center for Effective Organizations, as its fifth member. For stories on past winners and access to next year's nomination form, visit the HRE Rankings section of HREOnlineTM.
Read these stories about the 2012 HR's Rising Stars: