Top Influencers v1.30: Darren Romano

Top Influencers v1.30: Darren Romano

Posted on 20. Sep, 2009 by in Blog, Top 100

By John Sumser

Like Valerie Hudson (v 1.25), Darren Romano is one of three or four central figures in the careers of high placed HR executives. Where Valerie is the center of HR executive placement in Silicon Valley, Darren plies his trade in the heart of the east coast establishment. Currently, he’s the Heidrik and Struggles partner responsible for conducting Human Resources search assignments across the firms’ worldwide practices.

Romano has had his fingers /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,week/date,2010-12-12/”>can you buy cialis without a prescription in the pie for a long time. With stints at TMP, Hudson-Highland, Korn Ferry and a stretch at an HR desk, Romano built his network through 25 years of search practice. He moves the movers and shakers in establishment HR.

Romano’s role is a symbol of the difficulties embedded /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,week/date,2010-12-12/”>can you buy cialis without a prescription in HR leadership. While senior positions in the Fortune 500 are routinely filled by Romano and a couple of peers, search operations are virtually at war with the rank and file of HR. The leadership and the troops are notoriously out of synch with each other. There is a real disconnect between traditional HR career paths and the trajectory of HR leaders.

More than a few of the people profiled so far put the blame for the problem on the shoulders of the professional associations. Senior HR leaders need contracts administration, project management, program management and requirements development experience. Yet, there is no training ground for the existing professionals to get the skills. The result is a gap in career progression that is usually filled by people from outside of the department or the company.

Romano notes that there isn’t a great deal of talent in the HR space. CEOs are promoting people with less experience (often none) simply because not knowing the answers in HR is more likely to produce real improvement. Where most people working themselves up through the ranks focus on the soft side of people issues, the next generation of HR see the function as a performance accelerator. The question that CEOs want answered is “How do I build a performance driven culture?”

The answer to that question is much more likely to be held be a senior leader with operating experience or an HR executive with an operational footprint. Romano specializes in understanding the fundamental needs and style of the core leadership team. Generally, the people Romano places come from outside of the company for a reason. The internal HR development processes produce less than acceptable results.

It’s common knowledge that the vast majority of outsourcing experiments have failed because of the expertise shortage in the profession. Executive search pros face the problem of finding leaders who can fill the gap between the functional professionals and the organization’s deepest needs. The net result is an entire profession with a kink in the chain of command. The leadership of big company HR has a different career story than their employees.

In the coming disruption of recruiting, people who only fill requisitions or execute the bare functional necessities will be headed out the door. Increasingly, what’s left of the profession will be people who resemble Romano. These players understand the management style, culture and implicit needs of their clients. “Executive Search” is a misnomer. People like Romano are team builders, gap fillers and coaches. He cultivates leadership over the course of careers. His view of the function an HR leader should or could perform transcends the less than perfect definitions put forth by the soothsayers.

Romano’s influence is pervasive. Hundreds upon hundreds of senior HR VPs and CHROs are in their jobs because of his involvement. He maintains his network meticulously. Like many great influencers, he creates value by giving other people the opportunity to be influential.

John Sumser is the founder and CEO of TwoColorHat, a company specializing in market strategy for HR – Recruiting Vendors. You can keep up with his other stuff at Follow the rest of the Top 100 Influencers project.

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