Stanton Chase
The Four Qualities of a Good Chief Human Resources Officer

The Four Qualities of a Good Chief Human Resources Officer

January 2023


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Marie-Louise Ek provides insight into what it takes to be a world class CHRO.

Marie-Louise Ek, the Vice President of HR for the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at Hilton, has worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies across a wide range of industries. The companies she previously worked for include Sandvik, APM Terminals (part of the Maersk Group), Bridgestone, Coty Professional Beauty, and PepsiCo.

At Stanton Chase’s 65th Global Partners Meeting, Marie-Louise delivered a powerful presentation delving into the crucial subjects of employee wellbeing, the employee experience (EX), and the pursuit of purpose.

When asked at the end of her presentation to share the qualities she believes are essential for a successful CHRO, Marie-Louise answer was not only insightful, but also inspiring.

According to her, a good CHRO should possess 3Ps and a C.

What Are 3Ps and a C?

  1. Pragmatism
    An effective CHRO should be pragmatic, especially since they act as an interface between various stakeholders within the company. CHROs must be able to have difficult conversations without divisiveness and unite different role-players by aligning them around the company’s mission.
  1. Passion
    CHROs should love what they do and be passionate about people. When a CHRO lacks passion, it can be difficult for them to promote positive storytelling about the company and its mission. The HR function aims to retain existing employees and attract new ones. In order to attract talent, HR departments need to exemplify a positive employee experience.
  1. Proactivity
    It is essential that CHROs realize they are performing a business function. It is their responsibility to identify challenges and areas for improvement and develop a roadmap to correct or improve them. To be effective, they must be able to think ahead and identify issues before they become engrained in the company.
  1. Courage
    A good CHRO needs to be brave in order to challenge established norms and drive DE&I initiatives. They must be courageous enough to challenge decisions made within the company regarding hiring and promotion, push leadership forward, champion employee issues, and advocate their own initiatives and ideas. When necessary, a good CHRO makes their voice heard and is not afraid to be loud about it.

Good CHROs Can Be Hard to Find

In recent years, the CHRO function has grown rapidly. It has consequently become Stanton Chase’s third most sought-after function. Due to this, the competition for top CHROs is fierce, and finding emerging talent can be challenging. Fortunately, there is a wealth of executive search and leadership assessment knowledge you can tap into at Stanton Chase. Click here to reach out to one of our consultants.

About the Authors

Marie-Louise Ek is a leader in the field of human resources and currently serves as the Vice President of HR for the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey at Hilton.

William Brewer, CCP, is a Director at Stanton Chase Los Angeles. He is also Stanton Chase’s Global Human Resources Practice Leader. Prior to moving into executive search, Bill had 25 years of experience in corporate human resources. In addition to his executive search career, Bill is an adjunct Professor at the University of Redlands. Bill also serves as a mentor for the MBA program at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and has been a mentor with the School of Business at the University of Redlands.

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