Tell us the story of how you got involved in HR/People Operations and leadership. How did your career lead you here?
My journey towards HR and leadership began with my deep interest and extensive background in behavioral science and consultancy. Realizing the significant impact of human behavior and decision-making in organizational dynamics, I found myself naturally gravitating towards HR and leadership.
My focus has always been on optimizing team dynamics and decision-making in the future of work. Most recently, primarily focusing on the context of hybrid and remote work environments, and secondarily on generative AI.
In which industries, verticals or sectors have you focused your career?
Throughout my career, I have predominantly focused on sectors where the intersection of human behavior and business strategy is most critical. This includes a wide range of industries, but with a particular emphasis on Fortune 500 companies and large organizations where the nuances of leadership, decision-making, and team dynamics are amplified due to scale and complexity.
Why do so many companies struggle with making HR a priority? Many say that people come first, but when it comes to budget or follow through, the reality doesn’t quite line up. What are some common mistakes companies make?
Many companies struggle with prioritizing HR because there's often a disconnect between stated values and actual practices. While many organizations profess to put people first, in reality, budgetary and operational decisions often prioritize short-term gains over long-term employee development and satisfaction.
A common mistake is viewing HR as a cost center rather than an investment in the company's future. This short-sighted approach undermines the potential strategic value of HR in building a resilient and adaptive organizational culture.
You’ve been selected to give a keynote address at a major HR and leadership conference. What topic will you discuss and what major points will you touch on?
If chosen to give a keynote at a major HR and leadership conference, I would focus on "Navigating the Future of Work: Strategies for Effective Hybrid and Remote Teams." Key points would include the importance of cognitive diversity in decision-making, leveraging behavioral science for team management, and practical techniques for enhancing communication and collaboration in dispersed teams.
Have you seen, firsthand, any AI impacts on the practice of HR or people ops? What impacts are you expecting in the next few years?
I have witnessed the growing influence of AI in HR and people operations, particularly in areas like talent acquisition, employee engagement, and predictive analytics. Over the next few years, I expect AI to play a pivotal role in personalizing employee experiences, enhancing decision-making processes, and forecasting organizational needs, thereby revolutionizing traditional HR practices.
What skills have served you best in your career?
Critical thinking, empathy, and decision-making have been the most valuable skills in my career. These skills have enabled me to understand complex human behaviors, adapt strategies to diverse organizational cultures, and anticipate future trends in the workplace.
What’s the best advice you’d give someone just starting out in their people operations career, or just starting to transition from a related discipline like HR or organizational development?
For those starting in people operations or transitioning from related disciplines, my advice is to cultivate a deep understanding of human psychology and behavior. Also, develop a strategic mindset that views HR as a driver of organizational success, not just a support function.
When did HR or people ops as a discipline pop up on your radar? How have you seen it evolve or change over that period of time?
HR and people ops came onto my radar early in my academic career when I realized the impact of organizational behavior on business outcomes. Over time, I've seen it evolve from a largely administrative function to a strategic partner in organizations, especially with the rise of digital transformation and remote work.
What trend do you think will be most impactful in (your niche of) the people ops space over the next three years?
In the next three years, the most impactful trend in people ops will likely be the integration of AI and data analytics in decision-making processes. This trend will facilitate more informed, objective, and strategic HR decisions, significantly influencing talent management and organizational development.
What’s your biggest “hot take” or “least popular opinion” about an issue within the industry?
My "hot take" in the industry is that traditional leadership models are increasingly obsolete in the modern, digital-first workplace. The future belongs to leaders who can effectively manage distributed, diverse teams, and who prioritize cognitive diversity and psychological safety over hierarchical command-and-control structures.