SmartRecruiters Blog

The 10 Most Influential HR Practitioners

Human Resources is a great profession – I’ll be the first to admit that, but I’m bias. We have a tough job to do; find and recruit new talent, train and develop workers, engage employees, resolve conflict, keep the company out of court, and keep an eye on productivity. There are millions of HR professionals doing a great job every day and others that aren’t. We wanted to give you a list of awesome HR professionals at awesome companies which are performing well and setting trends. These are the types of people and places that you want to work with.

Here are the 10 Most Influential HR Practitioners:


Felicia Fields HRFelicia Fields – Group VP HR Ford Motor Company

What’s great about Felicia? Well her story really began when the previous VP of HR decided to leave Ford during the big bail out and recession. New CEO Alan Mulally had a plan and didn’t want to use federal funds, one of the first people he partnered with to turn Ford around was Felicia Fields. Together they created and executed an effective plan to turn the auto company around, mostly by talking to the employees to figure out what worked and what didn’t.


Director of HR at Zappo’s!Hollie Delaney – Director of HR at Zappos!

We all love Zappos! Right? They have excellent customer service and they know how to use social media recruiting to engage their audience, build relationships and grow the company image. They don’t believe in working from home because they want to have a close team dynamic. Hollie is tasked with keeping an eye on the social interaction and employee engagement – not so easy when your business model is fun and service.


SHRMHenry “Hank” Jackson – President and CEO of SHRM

Hank Jackson leads the largest professional association for HR – the Society of Human Resource Management. Although I love HR, it’s not the sexiest profession and thousands of us together can be a bit uninspiring but Hank is turning things around. He’s encouraging SHRM members and HR professional to be social and use technology to make HR more appealing to the new generation. From the HR Magazine to State and National Conferences, Jackson is making HR fun again – you may say he’s bringing sexy back.

[Editor’s Note: These two men of HR (above Hank & below Dave) – while not traditional practitioners – have such global influence on HR that they snuck into a list for practitioners.]

hr thought leaderDave Ulrich – Global HR Leader

Dave Ulrich is a professor, consultant, author and Global HR thought leader, he’s written several books on the strategic alignment of HR to corporate business process. He may not be on Twitter or actively practicing HR today, but he keeps his finger on the pulse of HR activities. Many HR curriculums use his works as the basis for their coursework. As a HR professional I’ve benefited greatly from his work. He writes, “HR must give value or give notice.”


paypal hrDianne Mills – Global Head of HR at Paypal

When I think about things that make life better, PayPal comes to  mind. It’s the online currency and banking website. You can send money, receive money, transfer money to and from your bank account and even get a credit card. Paypal has helped to make currency virtual and even mobile, pretty soon we’ll be able to use our Paypal accounts in traditional stores and restaurants. A company like this has to have a strong HR presence and Diane Mills is that presence.



Alice Harmon – VP of HR and Administration Evernote

Evernote is the one stop shop app to collect, store, share and organize your life. It’s a great app. The company is one of the fastest growing and one of the best places to work for employee benefits. A place like that has to take HR seriously, and with Alice Harmon at the helm of HR she has to adapt to ever changing demands of mobile app customers. Alice understands to stay competitive with top talent you have to offer top benefits and she stays very busy with internal and external customer engagement.


fistful of talentKris Dunn – CHRO at Kinetix. Founder of of HR Capitalist & Fistful of Talent

Of course we had to add a social presence to this group. In addition to creating Fistfull of Talent (FOT) a multi-contributor website with a team of great HR and Marketing professionals, he also blogs at HR Capitalist. Kris is always creating new content, such as webinars and eBooks to help drive the message of process improvement and talent management. He’s also part of the “Candidate Experience Council”.


StarbucksKalen Holmes – Executive VP Partner Resources (HR) Starbucks

Coffee is huge! We love to go get coffee and have meetings at Starbucks. Since the 90’s Starbucks have done things a little differently to engage customers and create a niche. Kalen joined in 2009, reporting directly to the CEO. She manages all the generalists and partner resource functions; which means HR – keeping Starbucks in aligned with Schultz’ mission and vision won’t be easy but it’s exciting to watch.


Lazzio BockLaszlo Bock – SVP, People Operations Google

You can’t have a “Top HR” or “Top Company” list without Google. Naturally we hear about their work life benefits. We use their products and we assume it must be the greatest place on earth. Well we might be right. Google does things differently. Even the HR department is called “People Operations” and Laszlo Bock oversees it all. He has to manage productivity and ensure that Google is competitive in the quest for finding and recruiting top talent. Don’t believe, just Google it!


Steve-BrowneSteve Browne – Executive Director of HR at LaRosa’s, Inc.

LaRosa’s is a pizza company in the greater Cincinnati, OH area and Steve is awesome. Steve Browne is the model example of what an HR professional should be. He performs his HR duties with smile, and he takes time to leave his office and interact with the people – yes the human capital that we are hired to manage. He makes tough decisions when he has to, but he never embarrasses or belittles any of his employees – past or present. ” His favorite word is “geeked”; now tell me that’s not awesome!


These HR professionals know what makes HR tick. Smaller companies everywhere are following their leads. Learn from these great HR pros.


TOP HR Influencers

About the Author: Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work Image Credit Ely Tran.

SmartRecruiters is hiring platform that makes it easy to source talent, manage candidates (collaborate with your team), and make the right hires.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.