If you're planning your next HR career move or want to know more about what it’s like to hold a CHRO role, you've come to the right place. For the second part of our "career corner" interview series, we sat down with ELKAY CHRO Larry Brand to learn more about his career journey and how he approaches the job.
HR Leader: Was human resources always a career that interested you? What have been some of your favorite parts of your job? What have been some challenges you’ve faced/overcome?
Larry Brand (LB): I’ve always been interested in business and ended up enjoying my human resources and labor classes in college. I deepened my interest in the field as I got my MBA.
The human capital side of business is the most fascinating and enjoyable part. Regardless of industry or company size, driving the people component is required for any other aspect of a successful business. HR professionals also get exposed to all aspects of the business, enabling them to be successful and easily change industry and geography as careers progress.
My career began when HR leadership was still trying to get a “seat at the table,” and I’ve been able to watch and participate in that phenomenon across my career to where the HR profession sits now — leading and driving all functional executives as a coach, mentor and business leader. I’m proud of where this profession has grown over the past 20 years.
HR Leader: Do you have any tips for professionals who aspire to become a CHRO?
LB: You must increase your breadth of HR knowledge, financial acumen, and business knowledge. You simply cannot spend large parts of your career in one functional area; instead, you must move yourself through all aspects of HR — HRBP, talent acquisition, total rewards, labor, organizational development, HCM technology and payroll.
You also need to get experience driving and influencing different demographics of employees — hourly associates, professionals, middle managers and executives.
Lastly, you will separate yourself from the crowd by taking on non-HR assignments and projects. Cross over into a front line supervisory, sales or IT role if you are able. It will give you a completely different perspective on the business and your career, along with making you more well-rounded for future HR assignments.
HR Leader: How has technology changed the role of HR? What are some important technologies that all firms should consider?
LB: Paper and email has transformed to artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile-ready human capital management systems.
HR professionals must provide an amazing online experience to all potential candidates through company websites, candidate management tools and artificial intelligence interactions in order to not lose good talent within the application process.
Further, once on board, all employees must have an easy user experience with HRIS and benefits/training portals. You want to spend time driving people to leverage these key resources rather than spending time showing them how to use them.
HR Leader: What is the best career advice you ever received?
"Never spend a long period of time in a role where you are not stretched or uncomfortable."
For career-minded professionals, it is easy to be really good and excel in your current role; particularly when receiving positive feedback from your manager and business partners. The question becomes, how long do I want positive reinforcement for things that I do well versus being in a role where my day is filled with uncertainty, gray area and a healthy amount of anxiety?
If you have an end in mind, in terms of achieving a desired level of leadership, spending time in areas where you excel and can easily accomplish things is not where you want to be; rather, build a strong personal brand and then move into unknown areas to create breadth and new experiences for yourself.
HR Leader: What’s the best advice you never received?
LB: I wish someone would have helped me understand that, as a career-minded professional who wanted to advance upward, there is no urgency or hurry to do so. Having the right years of experience and broad exposure over a number of different areas is critical once you reach a position of significant leadership impact.
If you arrive to such a position early as a “less experienced, high-potential professional,” it is much more difficult and stressful to be successful because there are simply many things you don’t already know how to do effectively. Learn at each stage of your career and advance when you are ready — don’t be in a hurry to do so.
HR Leader: Share 3 articles or books you think HRMAC readers should check out and/or save.
LB: Some of my favorites are...
HR Leader: Share 2-3 things you must keep at your desk when working in order to maximize productivity.
LB: My productivity musts include:
- My calendar is a constant tool I use to manage productivity time and key meetings. Always challenge yourself with where you should and should not be spending your time.
- My task list must be prioritized multiple times per day. Always know what you MUST accomplish today and this week, along with those items that would be NICE to get done if you could.
- Knowing where my executive assistant is at all times – we both need to be on the same page to manage customers, time and accessibility for key items.
HR Leader: What is your favorite place to visit in Chicago?
LB: Wrigley Field. I am a longtime season ticket holder who views the world in two ways — it is either baseball season or it is not baseball season. There is no better way to relax and unwind then spending an afternoon or evening within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Tags: Career Development , Leadership , Chief Human Resources Officer , Career Corner