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From CHRO to CPO: Evolution of Leadership with Colleen McCreary

Colleen McCreary

Colleen McCreary

31 minutes

Jul 14, 2024

From CHRO to CPO: Evolution of Leadership with Colleen McCreary
Interview Highlights

In the fast-paced landscape of contemporary business, the role of the Chief People Officer (CPO) has undergone a remarkable evolution.

Once seen as primarily an administrative function, the CPO now finds themselves at the forefront of strategic decision-making within organizations.

I recently had the privilege of speaking with Colleen McCreary, a seasoned professional with extensive experience in this domain, to delve deeper into the challenges and opportunities shaping the CPO role today.

Here are the key takeaways from that interview.

Perception vs. Reality: The Strategic Imperative

Historically, HR was often perceived as a supportive function rather than a strategic one. However, as Colleen McCreary highlights, the tide has shifted dramatically in recent years.

The role of the CPO has expanded beyond mere administration to encompass strategic leadership.

This shift is essential as it acknowledges the pivotal role of employees in driving organizational success. CEOs must recognize the strategic importance of the CPO, ensuring their inclusion in key decision-making processes.


Navigating Technological Advancements

Another significant challenge facing modern organizations is the rapid pace of technological advancement. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and emerging technologies are reshaping the workforce, presenting both opportunities and challenges.

CPOs must navigate these changes by implementing upskilling and reskilling programs, ensuring ethical technology use, and addressing concerns about job displacement.

By embracing technology while prioritizing the well-being and development of employees, organizations can thrive in the digital age.


Managing Post-Pandemic Transitions

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unprecedented challenges, from layoffs to the return to office dilemma.

CPOs are tasked with managing these transitions while maintaining employee engagement and morale. Transparent communication, empathy, and a focus on employee well-being are crucial during these times of uncertainty.

Organizations must recognize the impact of their decisions on employees and strive to uphold dignity and respect throughout any transitions.


Looking Towards the Future

As the CPO role continues to evolve, Colleen McCreary envisions a future where CPOs play an even more integral role in organizational leadership.

This may involve CPOs assuming additional responsibilities, such as becoming Chief Operating Officers (COOs), or overseeing a broader range of functions beyond traditional HR. However, regardless of how the role evolves, one thing remains constant: the importance of courage, empathy, and strategic vision in driving organizational success.


The Conclusion:

The role of the Chief People Officer is undergoing a profound transformation in response to the challenges and opportunities of the modern business landscape.

By embracing their strategic imperative, navigating technological advancements, and prioritizing employee well-being, CPOs can lead their organizations towards a future of sustained growth and success.

Official Transcript

The Chief People Officer, also known as the CPO is encountering critical challenges in today's fast paced business landscape leading to an unprecedented evolution of the role itself.

CEOs must navigate a complex array of obstacles that impede their ability to advocate for employees and secure a seat at the table. These challenges stem from three major obstacles in the workforce today. The first is the long standing perception where many executives still view HR as a supportive function, rather than a strategic one. This can make it difficult for CEOs to get buy in for their initiatives and have a seat at the table where key decisions are made.

The second is the rapid pace of technological advancement. As technology continues to transform the workplace CEOs must navigate the impact of automation, AI, and other emerging technologies on the workforce. This includes managing concerns around job displacement, upskilling and reskilling programs, and ensuring that technology is used in ways that are ethical and aligned with company values.

And lastly, managing the aftermath of the pandemic, such as layoffs and calling people back to the office CPOs must manage these transitions while maintaining employee engagement and morale. Joining us today is Colleen McCreary. Colleen is a limited partner at the operator collective Venture Fund and the former Chief People Officer of Credit Karma.

Prior to joining Credit Karma, Colleen held senior leadership roles at renowned tech companies such as Microsoft, and Zynga, where she was responsible for managing the growth of a company from a 130-person startup to a 4000 employee IPO exit in three years. Colleen is also known for her advisory services for the HBO hit Silicon Valley, and her courageous comments on social media. Colleen, thank you so much for being here. Welcome.

Colleen, how have you seen the role of the Chief People Officer, otherwise known as the CPO evolve over the past decade?

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