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The Future of HR
Source: hreonline.com
Source Date: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Created: Apr 19, 2010

The HR function is likely to look very different five or 10 years from now than it does today, predicted five chief HR officers during the Human Resource Executive Forum 's opening panel, "HR Imperatives for 2010 and Beyond."

"I'm not convinced that the function survives as we understand it today," said Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of HR for IBM.

"Maybe we'll see a series of integrated process teams being built within organizations that have experts within those teams, with people like us here who are advising and consulting their senior-leadership teams," MacDonald said. "But for functions themselves, such as finance, legal, marketing and HR, I think you're starting to see senior management think about the concept of process work versus expertise work."

Were that to occur, MacDonald said, the skill set for the HR function would need to change dramatically.

Marcia Avedon, senior vice president of human resources and communication for Ingersoll Rand, believes that, as line leaders become "talent stewards" in their organizations -- focusing on identifying, recruiting and growing talent -- HR leaders will need to adapt and become much more financially astute.

"If you walk in the room and you hear a conversation, you shouldn't be able to tell who [are] the HR professionals and who [are] the line leaders," Avedon said.

Jill Smart, chief HR officer for Accenture, noted that a major challenge for her organization will be finding the right leadership for high-growth markets such as India, China and parts of Europe,

She noted that Accenture's globalization efforts are going to occupy a lot more of her time in the years ahead. Globally, she said, the firm plans to add as many as 50,000 people in the coming years.

"In many of these strategic growth areas, it's difficult to find the right strategic leadership we need," Smart said. "We can't just send expats to those areas. So a big focus for us is being able to grow leaders in each of those markets."

Smart added that's not going to happen overnight.

Meanwhile, John Murabito, executive vice president of HR and services for Cigna Corp., said he believes keeping the talent pipeline full is likely to be a major priority for many HR years in the coming years.

"As the workforce gets older and the economy begins to improve," he said, "we'll probably see a return, at least to some degree, of people deciding to retire -- people who previously may have delayed that choice."

Ken Carrig, executive vice president of HR at Comcast Corp., added that risk management and governance will be two major agenda items for any HR leaders going forward.
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