Three Ways HR Professionals Are Leading The Human Revolution

Vanessa Smith

Today is HR Professionals Day in North America – an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the immense value the Human Resources function delivers to an organization.

Businesses everywhere continue to be disrupted by social change, globalization, the impact of new technologies, and the need to adapt to increasing volatility. The one constant is that people make the difference. ​​To thrive in this new world, organizations need to focus on their employees and commit to improving their human experience.

On August 19, 2019 the Business Roundtable redefined the purpose of a corporation. No longer is the purpose of an organization to just deliver and serve shareholders; rather, 181 global CEOs committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders-customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders. And HR is at the heart of moving this effort forward.  ​

From the initial interview through key moments that matter such as promotions and life events, the HR function helps shape and safeguard employee experience and engagement.

Having heard from many of our customers at the recent SuccessConnect event in Las Vegas, I’m incredibly impressed with the myriad ways in which the people agenda is positively impacting organizational strategy and performance.

Here’s where I’m seeing best-run HR teams investing their resources:

  1. Building a business focused on people: Employees deliver products and services to customers every day. In order to create the ultimate customer experience, organizations must first build an ideal employee experience. Understanding and addressing employee perspectives ​helps to boost engagement, unleash innovation and improve operational excellence.
  1. Becoming a magnet for talent: Shared values – environmental, societal and / or economic – become the catalyst for a culture that attracts, retains and maximizes high performing people. ​And a company’s own employees can be their greatest brand ambassadors.
  1. Preparing the organization for the future: Managing an agile, mobile, diverse and multi-generational workforce requires new organizational models and leadership competencies.  Leadership will be measured by their ability to unlock talent’s potential and increase employee engagement – not just by the bottom line. Skills gaps need to be anticipated and addressed years in advance. Change management is an ever-present requirement. The long-term strategic plan for the business must be built on a foundational people strategy.

As an employee and as a leader, I’m grateful to HR professionals who strive, often behind the scenes, to enhance our work experience, optimize talent potential, and make our organizations more successful.

Happy HR Professionals Day!

For more on HR best practices, see “Excellence Breeds Excellence: A Q&A With HR Guru Sharlyn Lauby.”


Vanessa Smith

About Vanessa Smith

Vanessa Smith is Head of the Human Capital Management (HCM) line of business in North America at SAP. With an emphasis on customer success, she is responsible for driving HCM sales and the go-to-market strategy and overseeing core operations including pipeline development, demand management, and revenue growth and acceleration. Most recently, Vanessa was regional vice president of the North America strategic customer program at SAP, where she identified and drive multiyear, technology-enabled strategic engagements that help organizations simplify their operations and innovate to win in the digital era. Prior to that she served as chief of staff for SAP CEO Bill McDermott and instituted the chief diversity officer role as part of the Office of the CEO to drive diversity and inclusion as a marketplace differentiator for SAP. In June 2018, Vanessa was named as a Top 100 Ethnic Minority Executive by empower and The Financial Times. She holds an MBA degree from the University of Maryland and a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia. Vanessa is a member of Jack and Jill of America and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.