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Presidential Perspective

SHRM's Current and Former Presidents Discuss Their Administrations

SHRM’s current and former leaders, going back to 1980, talk about their tenures as president of the largest HR organization and what the future holds for HR.

June 3, 2014

Photo illustration by Travis Rothe.

Since it was founded in 1948 by a handful of volunteers, the Society for Human Resource Management has grown to 275,000 members. Many consider SHRM to be “the voice” of the HR profession. The world’s largest HR organization has seen many leaders since its first president, Leonard Brice, took the helm in 1964 and established SHRM, then known as the American Society for Personnel Administration. It was headquartered in Ohio until 1984 when, under the leadership of Ron Pilenzo, the association moved to its current home in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside of the nation’s capital.

Over the years, the role of president has evolved along with the organization and the profession itself. Each leader has approached the challenges of his or her term in office with a unique style, but all sought to make a difference in the profession. Workforce recently spoke with five past presidents and SHRM’s current leader, Hank Jackson, about the evolution of SHRM and HR.


Ron Pilenzo
President & chief operating officer, 1980-1991

‘HR is not what it should be in terms of a model that someone could point to and say that this is truly a profession.’

—Ron Pilenzo

 

Ronald C. PilenzoRon Pilenzo worked in a variety of senior HR management roles, was a regular volunteer at SHRM and served on its board of directors before taking the helm and overseeing the move to Virginia. Since his retirement in 1994, he has volunteered with a number of nonprofits and writes for various trade publications.

Workforce: How would you describe the role that SHRM plays in developing and advancing the HR profession?

Pilenzo: I have two views on that. First of all, SHRM in my opinion is the premiere professional society and as such we’ve built a reputation as the ‘go-to’ organization for all aspects of the HR profession. We’ve become the spokesperson for the profession. Now, I have a heretical thought that goes back many years. What SHRM should be is the AFL-CIO of the human resource profession. If they acquired all related organizations like the ASTD [Editor’s note: The Association for Talent Development recently changed its name to the Association for Talent Development.], the National Association of Colleges and Employers, and others, all those that are now in the HR profession, and they banded together as one cohesive unit, as the voice of the entire profession, just think about the power and influence that they could command.

WF: How do you see the profession changing in the next decade?

Pilenzo: I think there’s a need to define curriculums, competencies, the body of knowledge in the profession. I wrote an article for Workforce asking, ‘Is HR really a profession?’ The Answer is ‘not yet.’ If HR is going to become a true profession they need to model the ABA [American Bar Association], the AMA [American Medical Association], the accounting profession and the engineering professions. HR is not what it should be in terms of a model that one could point to and say this is truly a profession. People enter this field anyhow and any way with any kind of degree. Fifty percent of those practicing HR do not have a degree in HR. Would you want a doctor to operate on you who is an engineer? We need to model and align with the four knowledge-based professions.

The second thing, I think the HR profession should include all the international aspects of HR. It should be one body of knowledge. As the world comes together and companies become more globalized, everyone in HR should have some international experience, even if their company is not in the international arena. The third thing we need is to develop HR professionals who can gain the respect of other people in the profession and one way to do that is by developing HR metrics. How can you run an HR department without having a strategic plan? You must have one, and it should mirror the business plan of the organization. That’s a problem that the HR profession has. The confidence level of corporate leaders leans greatly when HR starts talking in HR jargon. You don’t find many HR departments that have a written HR strategy, and that bothers me greatly.

WF: What role do you see the SHRM president playing in that evolution?

Pilenzo: The CEO of SHRM should drive the organization as an equal partner with the chairman and members of the board, and that is what’s happening there. It should be no different than any business, but there is one difference: When you are a CEO of a nonprofit organization, you’re changing board directors every few years, so you sometimes have a lack of coherent direction. The responsibility falls on the CEO to make sure that there is continuity.

The CEO of SHRM should never forget that he or she is the CEO of a nonprofit organization. When I became president, I told the board that I wouldn’t take the job unless they allowed me to run it like a business, using business practices. It’s important that they never forget that there is a bottom line. However, as a professional society the bottom line may be different than just money. You’ve got global issues and community issues that must be considered. There’s a trickle-down effect in nonprofits. You have an impact on families, on the community and in the political arena. The CEO should be aware of all of those things as opposed to just being focused on HR. I know there is a current controversy over ‘Is it business or is it a professional society?’ My opinion is that it’s a professional society, but that it can operate like a business.

WF: What were the biggest challenges that you faced as president?

Pilenzo: The challenges were several. Taking a small organization — at the time there were 39 employees and a $3 million budget. I’m really proud of that. I was happy and proud that I quadrupled the membership.

The other challenge was moving to D.C. We wanted to be near think tanks and government. We wanted to be the group that the federal government would call first on HR issues. It took 18 months to make it happen and it was challenging. I was able to retain managers, but we had to hire a new staff. I’m pleased to say that we didn’t miss a beat and we didn’t lose members.

The last challenge I faced was that none of the board members had international HR experience. We were trying to conduct bilateral meetings with French, German and other global associations. The goal was internationalize the board and recruit people with international HR backgrounds.

WF: What were some of your most rewarding moments?

Pilenzo: Transforming the organization, moving to D.C., being appointed to presidential task forces and meeting the president.

WF: What advice or words of wisdom would you impart to the next SHRM president?

Pilenzo: Never forget that SHRM is a professional society, and it’s not just about the money. Be personally responsible for the development of every SHRM member so that they can be the best that they can be.

WF: Looking back at your tenure, is there anything that you would have done differently

Pilenzo: No. I don’t think so.


Helen Drinan
President & CEO, 2000-2002

‘One of the difficulties in the profession is that everyone thinks they can be an HR professional. No one really understands the expertise that is required.’

—Helen Drinan

 

Helen Drinan mug June 2014Helen Drinan’s tenure at SHRM was brief, but her career path has taken her from executive HR roles in the health care and banking industries to leader of SHRM and now to academia, where she has served as president of Simmons College in Boston since 2008.

WF: How would you describe the role that SHRM plays in developing and advancing the HR profession?

Drinan: HR is a very large profession. When I was president, we estimated about a million practitioners in the United States. But one of the difficulties in the profession is that everyone thinks they can be an HR professional. No one really understands the expertise that is required. I think that SHRM can expand upon the role of being the authority for understanding truly the content expertise required. Has it achieved 100 percent of the possibilities? I don’t think so, and I don’t think they would say they have either.

WF: How do you see the profession changing in the next decade?

Drinan: I think that profession is going to be called to continuously improve the understanding of the human capital agenda in organizational life, and I’m talking about not-for-profit, for-profit, volunteer, any kind of organization that depends upon people. We’re great about understanding financial resources, real estate resources and every other kind of resource, but we have lots to learn about the labor force component, as a country, not just SHRM. I think SHRM can up the game and get as sophisticated as possible on that end of leadership of the field.

WF: What role do you see the SHRM president playing in that evolution?

Drinan: The SHRM president needs to be the key spokesperson for that increasingly demanding sophistication requirement. I know there’s a dilemma there for the president. You’re invited to speak in nine different locations and everybody wants you to talk about something different. I think its important that the president has his or her agenda very clearly aligned with the growth requirements of the profession.

WF: What were the biggest challenges that you faced as president?

Drinan: I had a single very big challenge. I was coming in at a time with an active practitioner’s background but at the highest level of an organization. I was coming into an organization that aspired to serve people with my kind of background. The biggest challenge was to move 175,000 members in the direction of where HR leadership should be going. Also, I succeeded the guy who put SHRM on the map. It’s always an interesting challenge succeeding someone who has his name on the building.

SHRM desperately wanted to capture the attention of senior-level HR executives on up. But the membership had very few heads of HR for Fortune 500 companies. There might have been two at the time. The membership there was at a very different level than the role that I had played just before I became the head of SHRM.

            SHRM as an organization is a very well-run machine. I’m describing the difference between the machine of the organization and the content expertise of the organization. How do you integrate those two things? I just didn’t understand. Everyone was in such a different place. Many members were solo practitioners in small companies wearing multiple hats. That was a new experience for me. I was used to working HR pros in more senior roles. That was hard for me.

WF: What were some of your most rewarding moments?

Drinan: I was an accidental HR professional. I really enjoyed HR. I felt it was a very maligned and misunderstood profession. I felt it had created extraordinary opportunities for me, and I wanted to contribute to improving some of the downsides aspects of HR’s reputation. The traditional image of the HR professional is the guy who brings the watermelon to the picnic. Nice guy, good with people, but that’s not today’s HR professional. However, there’s still a lot of that out there.

Most rewarding? Two things stand out. One was 9/11. It was wonderful to see how HR professionals rose to the occasion ranging from life-saving efforts to the ongoing support for people devastated by 9/11. The second most rewarding was when members would say to me that the future of the profession is vitally important to me and I’m eager to partner with someone who shares my interests.

WF: What advice or words of wisdom would you impart to the next SHRM president?

Drinan: Be brave. Go out there on the frontier of where HR should be. Don’t take sidesteps. People are the most critical resource that corporations have.

WF: Looking back at your tenure, is there anything that you would have done differently

Drinan: I would have spent considerable time, a year or two, out meeting with members. I rushed too fast into change rather than work toward it.


Mike Losey
President & CEO, 1991-2000

‘It’s highly symbolic that the board of directors of a 250,000-member organization could not find an HR person suitable for the job.’

—Mike Losey

 

Mike Losey mug June 2014Having your name on the building that houses the SHRM headquarters is a clear sign that you made your mark on the organization and the profession. Many say that Losey, who spent 30 years in management positions before becoming SHRM president and CEO, has done both. He is widely credited with tripling SHRM’s membership and dramatically increasing revenue during his tenure. He now works as a consultant and speaker.

WF: How would you describe the role that SHRM plays in developing and advancing the HR profession?

Losey: A profession must have an established body of knowledge. It can be taught, it can be learned and that’s occurred in HR over the last 100, 125 years. And SHRM, as with any profession like law, medicine, airline pilots, is the organization needed to pull it all together, to perform research, to advance the interests of its members, to create professional development opportunities.

WF: How do you see the profession changing in the next decade?

Losey: Nothing stands still. HR runs the risk of being like the task of parking a car in a tight parking spot that’s now being done automatically by some cars. If HR doesn’t really contribute to business and organizational success, if people in HR are not considered key players, HR runs the risk of being replaced by technology and by management itself. The future of the profession depends on the qualifications of the people who go into HR. I fear that the most qualified in the colleges and universities are not lining up to enroll in HR. That’s not good for the profession. And HR has suffered from line management that says that anyone can do HR, and they put the secretary in or somebody’s friend in the job.

WF: What role do you see the SHRM president playing in that evolution?

Losey: I fear greatly that placing a financial person as president and CEO was a tremendous disservice to the profession. I like Mr. [Hank] Jackson; he’s a good person. I doubt if he volunteered for the job. It’s highly symbolic that the board of directors of a 250,000-member organization could not find an HR person suitable for the job. I don’t know if they think HR people can’t count. They’ve loaded the board with financial people. That is my concern. The role of the next president must be clearly defined by the board of directors. Nobody should accept that job unless they know exactly what they’re getting into. It’s absolutely tragic that over the past few years we’ve had several presidents and either the people who turned out didn’t like the job or the board didn’t like the people. We’re talking about a million dollar a year job. This is not petty cash.

WF: What were the biggest challenges that you faced as president?

Losey: When I went into this in 1990, the society have been in business for 40 yearsand had 40,000 members, but membership was decreasing, revenue was relatively small by today’s standards, and reserves were almost nonexistent, about $5 million. Relationships with chapters needed to be grown and professional development opportunities were very modest. I was really, really pleased, when I look back, that we were able to grow that organization so that it was close to what it is today. When I left revenue was close to $75 [million] or $80 million. I had no expectation that someday I would run a company. I had hoped to be an HR vice president. When I became the CEO, I followed what I had seen other top management do and we proved that an HR person, given the opportunity, can do a hell of a job.

WF: What were some of your most rewarding moments?

Losey: I remember after two weeks on the job standing up at a chapter leadership conference and saying that I wouldn’t increase the dues and I didn’t — $165 for 10 years. At the same time, we didn’t have to because we grew such a successful organization. Also, I saw people just didn’t care if they had a membership so I built the presumption that if you are in the profession you have to be in SHRM, that it’s going to hurt your career [if you’re not] and that paid dividends.

WF: What advice or words of wisdom would you impart to the next SHRM president?

Losey: Have a clear understanding of what the mission is, what they really want done, and, assuming that it is an HR professional, even more if its not, they must learn the profession. They must learn the chapter network and what these people are doing in the field, and they must be close to the at-large members. More than three-fourths of members don’t go to chapter meetings. They don’t even belong to a chapter. I used to call the chapters the fingers and toes of the organization. They are really influential.

The legislative thing will be very, very important. Congress loves to mess with HR stuff — it’s either health care or unions, or this or that, and we need people in SHRM to represent, including a president who knows the field. I had to debate with [Sen. Edward] Kennedy, I had to debate with [Sen. Christopher] Dodd, and [Sen.] Strom Thurmond. You had to know what the hell you were talking about. I feel so sorry for Hank because he won’t be able to do that. He’ll just delegate it to somebody else.

WF: Looking back at your tenure, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Losey: When I left I was very proud. It was the highlight of my career.As you know, when you leave, you’re ready to leave. You’re done. I guarantee you that there was no interest in my head to get involved in 2005 with SMFT [SHRM Members For Transparency]. I only did so because I was begged to do so by others and, secondly, I saw some of the leaders doing things that weren’t right so I became very involved again. Was it worth it? Did it hurt me? Tremendously.


Sue Meisinger
President & CEO, 2002-2008

‘I think there will be fewer HR practitioners who are purely tactical because of advances in technology and the tools that
are available to free up HR.’

—Sue Meisinger

 

Sue Meisinger mug June 2014Sue Meisinger has a long history with SHRM, having served on the board for 20 years before taking the helm. Before joining the organization, she was deputy undersecretary in the U.S. Labor Department. She is currently a speaker and columnist for Human Resource Executive Online.

WF: How would you describe the role that SHRM plays in developing and advancing the HR profession?

Meisinger: I think it plays a critical role because it provides ongoing research on the necessary competencies to be successful in the profession, and it arms HR professionals with a network of other HR professionals to tap into for support and information-sharing. I think they’re critical in providing a voice on public policy issues that’s not purely pro-employer or purely pro-employee but they are able to present a reasoned approach to an issue, and I think that’s invaluable in Washington. I think the research being down on creating standards, it’s a very prospective look at where the profession may be going. It’s important to have some conversation about that. I think SHRM is critical in providing a forum to have those conversations.

WF: How do you see the profession changing in the next decade?

Meisinger: It’s a constant march toward increased competency. I think there will be fewer HR practitioners who are purely tactical because of [advancements] in technology, and the tools available to free up HR. I also see the continued push toward business literacy and understanding … how to you leverage HR to drive business outcomes. It’s been a constant march toward this, and it will continue.

WF: What role do you see the SHRM president playing in that evolution?

Meisinger: The president can help ensure that the organization is listening to its members and identifying the tools and the resources to help those members be successful. In an association, the members should be the North Star. My view of SHRM has always been that if you take care of the members and help them advance in their career, then what you’re doing is making the employers more successful and the business more successful. It’s a great way to make a living — to reach the breadth and scope of what you can do to help people and the business. You can have an incredible impact.

WF: What were the biggest challenges that you faced as president?

Meisinger: Trying to make sure the profession maintained its focus on the business and strategy in an environment where at the federal, state and local levels there was a constant issuance of new regulations. Crossing every T and dotting every I in the compliance of the job means that you’re viewed as purely compliance-focused. But really the HR role requires both — the vision and strategy but also the compliance. And sometimes in an environment where there’s a lot of regulations coming out, it’s easy for HR to get focused on the tactical end.

The other challenge I faced is that we were hitting the point of being international but not yet global. I think SHRM has continued to grow its presence around the globe but for an organization that had been domestically focused it was a learning curve for both me and for the organization.

WF: What were some of your most rewarding moments?

Meisinger: My rewarding moments were when members came up to me. I’d been there for 20 years so I’d probably given more rubber-chicken speeches than my predecessors, and when people would come up to me and say ‘I heard you speak X years ago and it really had an impact on me,’ it was great to know that what I was doing really made a difference. Also, meeting with volunteers. I always learned something new.

WF: What advice or words of wisdom would you impart to the next SHRM president?

Meisinger: It depends on what the organization needs and what the board expects from the CEO, so it’s hard to predict what I would say. My general recommendation is to listen to the members and help lead them forward.

WF: Looking back at your tenure, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Meisinger: I don’t know that I would have done anything different.


Lon O’Neil
President & CEO, 2008-2010

‘We focused on operational efficiencies and managing our expenses in a very productive way but not through layoffs.’

—Lon O’Neil

 

Lon O'Neil mug June 2014Lon O’Neil held several executive positions before becoming the head of SHRM, including chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente and managing partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. He is retired and lives in Oakland, California.

WF: How would you describe the role that SHRM plays in developing and advancing the HR profession?

O’Neil: I think SHRM has played an important role. It provides tremendous help and value and added support for early and midcareer folks. Also, it allows for the creation of a community of professionals.

WF: How do you see the profession changing in the next decade?

O’Neil: The profession will change and be driven by its continued focus on diversity and inclusion, technology and social media. I think that is a way that HR will become more critical to the efficient running of the organizations that the members work for. … If you are faced with a difficult new problem, the best and most effective way to face it is to connect with other professionals, and that is greatly enhanced by social media. It allows more rapid consultation with your HR community.

WF: What role do you see the SHRM president playing in that evolution?

O’Neil: The president plays the role of providing strategic leadership, long-range goals, strategies and plans and policies. I think the critical role is to stay very attuned to the needs of the members and work closely with the board to set the goals.

WF: What were the biggest challenges that you faced as president?

O’Neil: It was fact that I started in 2008, around November, and the financial crisis commenced dramatically in October. So just as I started, the country went through the Great Recession, so there was a tremendous economic shift. SHRM, like all organizations at the time, needed to take that very seriously. SHRM remained quite strong. The biggest challenge was pretty dramatic. All associations in the last quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009 were focused on scaling back. SHRM emerged with a growing membership, strong financial footing and strong operational efficiencies along with a heighted focus on serving the members.

WF: What were some of your most rewarding moments?

O’Neil: I had come out of industries that had been severely challenged [by the recession]. At Bank of America there were consolidations and Kaiser Permanent had been girding for change. It was my belief that SHRM and the country would emerge from the financial crisis strong. The first focus was on the team, and we said that the last thing we’ll do is lay anyone off. We knew that we would emerge from the recession so we looked at things more strategically. We focused on operational efficiencies and managing our expenses in a productive way but not through layoffs. The ability to manage through it was rewarding.

WF: What advice or words of wisdom would you impart to the next SHRM president?

O’Neil: I would say, ‘Stay focused on the members and what their needs are.’

WF: Looking back at your tenure, is there anything that you would have done differently?

O’Neil: I don’t know if I’d do anything differently. There’s nothing major I would change. 


Henry G. (Hank) Jackson
Interim president & CEO, 2010-2011;
President & CEO, 2011- 

Hank Jackson mug June 2014

‘I’ve heard that leadership during a crisis is like treating
a victim of a heart attack — first you stabilize the patient. But after the emergency has passed, you must deal with the root causes of the problem.’

—Hank Jackson

As a certified public accountant, Hank Jackson brings financial expertise to the role of SHRM president. He served as chief financial officer and treasurer at Howard University before joining the organization in 2005 as chief global finance and business affairs officer. He is the organization’s sixth CEO. At deadline, SHRM announced it was offering its new certification plan. Read more at Workforce.com/SHRM-HRCI. He responded to Workforce’s questions via email.

WF: How would you describe the role that SHRM plays in developing and advancing the HR profession?

Jackson: SHRM’s founders recognized the need for a national organization to represent and advance the interests of a profession they saw as being in transition. That was 65 years ago, and the HR profession hasn’t stopped evolving. Neither has SHRM.

As the world’s largest HR association, SHRM has the resources, expertise and reach to lead the HR profession into the future. We want our profession to be defined by our excellence. As such, we are taking a leading role to improve the universal practice of HR with competency-based assessments and the development of generally accepted standards of practice. We are working to institutionalize those HR practices that positively impact business results. And, we are partnering with national HR organizations on a one-on-one basis and through the World Federation of People Management Associations, of which SHRM is the secretariat, to improve the effective practice of HR on a global scale.

WF: How do you see the profession changing in the next decade?

Jackson: We’re only beginning to experience a series of profound global megatrends that will dramatically transform the workplace and the workforce of the future. The sluggish economy of the last several years highlighted the global dependencies of that transformation. The obvious change is that technology is redefining the workplace and how we engage our workforce. Brick-and-mortar locations will shrink, while the workforce and its diversity will expand. Building a culture in this environment will require new techniques.

Also, everywhere I visit around the globe, business leaders want to know how HR is addressing the ‘skills gap.’ We will need to employ some proven techniques such as apprenticeships and internships, but we also will need to upgrade business training programs and education. There is no silver bullet, but we must get started.

To face these changes, businesses are increasingly demanding that HR professionals at all career levels master not only technical skills but demonstrate proven behaviors and business savvy needed for the success of the enterprise. That’s why SHRM conducted extensive research — with our entire membership as well as 1,200 HR professionals from more than 30 nations — to develop our new SHRM Competency Model, the first competencies framework of its kind to develop HR professionals no matter where they are in their career.

We’re also supporting a new SHRM Foundation initiative launched last year with the Economist Intelligence Unit to identify and analyze the top trends affecting the workplace in the next five to 10 years. Among the findings of the first report, which was released in March, was that diversity is increasing around the world and crosses all lines — gender, generational and cultural. More women in the developing world are entering the workplace whether their organizations or countries are ready or not. Millennials want more and they want it faster; and older workers are staying put and working longer. All of this requires new ways of thinking from HR.

WF: What role do you see the SHRM president playing in that evolution?

Jackson: The SHRM president gets an up-close view of our dynamic profession. You have the privilege of hearing from HR professionals around the world, visiting with SHRM chapters and members, meeting with CEOs and other leaders to gain their perspectives and more. You are called on by the Congress, the White House and state legislatures to provide perspective on proposed legislation and regulations. I see it as my role to take that unique vantage point, initiate the appropriate dialogue and develop a vision for the profession. In some way, every past SHRM president has taken up two primary objectives of SHRM: serving the HR professional by ensuring that we have highly trained and capable people in our profession; and advancing the role of the HR profession as the driver of business results.

WF: What are the biggest challenges that you’ve faced as president??

Jackson: Like our members and the organizations where they work, SHRM operates in a global market landscape that is ever-changing. To remain on top, you must change as rapidly as the world does to continually meet the needs of a diverse and worldwide membership. The type of change and innovation you need in this environment is more difficult in organizations that have been very successful for many years, such as SHRM. Convincing all of the constituencies that what got you here will not be adequate going forward is a challenge — but necessary. I know these are the challenges that SHRM and many organizations are facing, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

WF: What were some of your most rewarding moments?

Jackson: I’m extremely proud of our membership growth: 275,000 members strong! And we broke our own Annual Conference & Exposition attendance record when 20,000 came to Chicago last year. We even trended globally on Twitter for an entire day during the 2013 annual conference, indicating that when SHRM and HR speak, the world literally listens.

I’m also proud that SHRM opened an office in California this April to meet the needs of the world’s eighth largest economy and home to more than 116,000 HR professionals, the most of any state. The many organizations in the state employ a diversity of workers and lead the country in workplace trends. At the same time, California employers do business in the most complex employment law environment in the United States. This makes California a bellwether state for HR. With a physical presence there, we are positioned better than ever before to both serve HR professionals there and influence HR trends originating in the state.

However, I want to underscore that all these numbers mean little to SHRM if we do not also have a meaningful relationship with our members, many of whom I have the pleasure of meeting and talking with. Their success is really the greatest measure of our own. So it is their experiences and stories I share, whether I’m visiting the White House, advocating on Capitol Hill, attending an awards dinner, giving a speech, or representing SHRM on a committee. It’s the voice of the members that matters most, and speaking on their behalf is most rewarding.

WF: What advice or words of wisdom would you impart to the next SHRM president?

Jackson: Be an active listener, especially with the membership. They are on the front lines of HR, and are the pulse of everything we do. Also, have an open mind and be receptive to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Remember the past, but live in the present and actively plan for the future. I always say: Embrace change because you have no other option.

WF: Looking back at your tenure, is there anything that you would have done differently.

Jackson: I entered this position during an incredible period of economic turmoil and uncertainty. I’ve heard that leadership during a crisis is like treating a victim of a heart attack — first you stabilize the patient. But after the emergency has passed, you must deal with the root causes of the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Although SHRM is doing well with record revenues and membership growth, high member satisfaction and more, I wish I had more time earlier in my tenure to make that pivot from stabilizing the organization to spending more time with members. Now, that’s my focus every day.