HR-Recruiting plays out at a variety of levels. So far, we’ve been looking at influence as it is practiced in the working levels of the industry. Software architects, marketing people, analysts and theorists all wield significant power in the standard set of transactions. Influence is, in one dimension, all about the marketplace. A great deal of energy is spent on and by the people who shape purchasing and budgeting decisions.
There’s another layer in the HR-Recruiting industry’s architecture. The extreme executive levels of publicly traded companies, the board rooms, are host to entirely different sort of player. The consultants who ply HR-Recruting Strategy and Advice in the C-suite are Ivy league heavyweights from firms like Watson-Wyatt and Mercer. These ‘influencers’ exist in an entirely different realm.
One way of defining ‘influence’ is ‘factors that create the flavor and color of the decision making environment.’ As long as we continue to have hierarchical organizations, there will be the select few who work their magic at Olympian heights. Out of sight of most practitioners, these hired guns shape policies and suggest strategies. It’s softspoken and full of calf leather.
Robin Ferracone is a prime example of this kind of extremely cultivated executive muscle. Her pedigree includes a Harvard MBA, Chairman of the U.S. West Region for Marsh & McLennan Companies, market leader and Worldwide Partner at Mercer, and President and Chairman of SCA Consulting, a firm she co-founded and sold to Mercer. She’s been a C-Suite consultant for 25 years.
Talking with Robin, you get the sense that you’re in the presence of a self-assured thoroughbred who is used to winning big races. She easily navigates the complexities of a conversation that challenges some. She is really, really clear about the value she delivers and the way to do it.
Ferracone is a champion of the idea that HR is best served by asking questions with data. As we move into an era of ever dense information, the organization will be led by people who can ferret meaning from the data storm. She believes that data based problem solving should be at the forefront of HR.
That means asking better and better questions.
“HR is often run on untested assumptions,” she says. “A great HR leader steps up to the tough questions and delivers the tough answers. That’s the only way you can maintain credibility over the long haul.”
As we talked, I began to understand one of the keys to Ferracone’s sustained career at the top. It seemed like my IQ went up by 25 points over the course of the conversation. It’s clear that people around her get smarter through their interactions /component/page,shop.product_details/category_id,6/flypage,flypage.tpl/product_id,56/option,com_virtuemart/Itemid,1″>buying cialis without prescription with her.
She’s very certain that HR is evolving towards a transition point. “The traditional view features a clear line between the inside and the outside of the organization. In the future, those distinctions will not be anywhere as obvious. This has deep implication for HR and Recruiting alike.”
These days, Robin is both investor and consultant. She works with startups using a combination of capital and sweat equity. Her involvement in an organization is a good foundation for business development.
Like the other influencers we’ve profiled, Robin Ferracone is unique in her position and her operating methods. She is one of the few members of a rarified circle whose input shapes the decision making reality for the rest of the players.
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