How can the human capital department deliver the most value to its CEO and Board of Directors? How does the human capital role change when working in a private, public or private equity-backed company?
These questions and many more were answered at the WashingtonExec Strategic Human Capital Council roundtable hosted earlier this week with keynote speaker Sid Fuchs, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MacAulay-Brown, Inc. (MacB) and author of Get Off the Bench: Unleashing the Power of Strategic Networking Through Relationships. Fuchs, a four-time CEO, has run private equity-backed, publically-traded, and privately-held companies and has served on multiple public and private boards.
The CEO’s job is to build the team, bring clarity to the organization’s overall objectives, align skill sets and drive for results according to Fuchs. The best way for human capital professionals to support the overall organization is to directly support the CEO as a true business partner and advocate.
Fuchs went on to describe the critical role the human capital unit plays to the overall strength of an organization. No longer is it acceptable to have a HR department that is simply administrative and data-driven and provides numbers about retention rates, compensation and turnover; the human capital department of today must be a business partner with the CEO with actionable intelligence, analysis and metrics that are required to make fast but accurate decisions.
“As CEO, if you are ignoring your human capital department, you are ignoring your people. The goal is to build a strategic HR organization that anticipates trends, is creative, offers solutions before problems arise and treats employees like customers. When properly executed, HR will become a strategic enabler of the company,” said Fuchs.
Oftentimes the human capital department has access to sensitive information about the organization- including medical records, turnover rates, compensation and legal information. This proprietary data places the HR department in a powerful and unique position. Fuchs cautioned attendees to not act as “the police” or bypass the CEO and work directly with the organization’s board of director. Instead, he said that HR’s goal should be to enable the CEO and board to make informed decisions about people, processes, and policies. “An HR professional’s initial response to any request should never be “no”; instead, it should be “how can we help you achieve your goals?”
“Sid Fuchs provided a bird’s eye view into the differences in the relationship between the CEO and the Board in a private, private equity backed and public company. He used his past experiences to provide insight into how HR could strategically partner with the CEO to help achieve his/her objectives. He was quick to add that HR should help remove bureaucracy, not create it. Partnering with the CEO includes identifying red flags and land mines, turning data into meaningful information to spot trends and helping the CEO build and equip the leadership team,” said Kay Curling, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Salient Federal Solutions.
Although challenging at times, the human capital department must remain unbiased and objective to the CEO at all times, Fuchs concluded.
Each participating government contracting company sponsors a human resource executive and nominates one critical talent individual for this WashingtonExec Council. This one-of-a-kind group allows the VP of HR the opportunity to help develop the next generation of HR leadership while building their own networks.
Louis Montgomery and Irv Towson, Managing Directors at the boutique retained executive search firm Reffett Associates, Alan Berson, Executive Coach and Author of Leadership Conversations: Challenging High Potential Mangers to Become Great Leaders, David Kriegman, Author of Zero to a Billion: 61 Rules Entrepreneurs Need to Know to Grow a Government Contracting Business, Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University’s (GMU) Center for Regional Analysis and Dr. Ginny Bianco-Mathis of Marymount University are all previous keynote speakers for the group. The Council also hosted a C-Suite panel with Jodi Johnson, CEO of Titania Solutions Group, Anne Donohue, Senior Vice President & General Counsel at SRA International and Mark Serway, CFO of Govplace.