Why I Changed the Name of the HR function at PeopleDoc
by Adriana Bokel Herde October 16 2017
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One can say that I am truly passionate about what HR stands for and how valuable strategic HR is for business success. I have been very lucky in my career to have had amazing HR mentors who fully embedded this concept and showed me how HR can and should be bold and push business leaders to focus on the people they are leading.
Among the great HR leaders I had, Christina Freckmann taught me the importance of passion and authenticity in the work we do in HR. While at Biogen, I was fortunate to have worked under Ken diPietro and he, as well, challenged many concepts of traditional HR. One of them was to redesign the function by exchanging “HR” for the word “People”. As I was leading the “People Services” function, I realized that what we call things does make a difference - not only for our internal clients but for our HR team.
Often in internal discussions, I had to remind our team that we were "People" services and not "HR" services for a reason. It put the focus on thinking holistically about our candidate and employee experience, and slowly the mindset started to change. It was an "aha” moment for me.
When it was my time to lead the function, I realized that even in an HR-focused, innovative company like PeopleDoc, "HR" had its reputation and not always a good one. Therefore, I was convinced that I needed to rename the function to what I believe we truly should aim for: being a People and Innovation Hub.
“People” because companies that focus on “People and Culture” are more successful long term than those companies that focus primarily on profits.
“Innovation” because HR functions not only have the potential to, but also should, lead change and drive innovation from within. The moment that we start doing things differently, and more HR leaders feel comfortable challenging how their function operates and enables (or dis-enables) employees and people managers, we will see a positive change throughout our companies.
Of course, things don’t automatically change just because one changes the function name or has a new title. But we all know that, more often than not, making a change to a name or a function is important to start the change management process and how things are perceived by current and new team members. It is about making a statement and this is certainly a critical step for initial change. In other words, the journey is important but knowing where you are heading is certainly key to getting there.
I am a big believer in my beloved People Function. HR has the potential to reinvent itself by challenging the status quo and introducing new practices and state-of-the-art technology to people and the companies we support.
I want to be part of this new way of servicing our people and our business. I am here for anyone who shares my passion and is interested in finding ways to help our peers to find their own path. For anyone who wants to break from the traditional ways we manage and lead HR functions, and impact how we enable the business today and in the future, leave a comment below.
Adriana Bokel Herde
Adriana is an accomplished Senior Executive with more than 20 years of global success spanning human resources with a focus on pharmaceuticals, biotech, and technology, and digitization companies. Leveraging her extensive experience in digital HR transformation through technology, she is a valuable asset for diverse companies seeking or encountering rapid growth, international market penetration and expansion, and people development and management programs and systems. Her broad areas of expertise include combination of business and business strategy, talent recruitment and development, change management, leadership development, operations, innovation and employee experience.
Throughout her executive career, Adriana has held leadership positions at healthcare companies including MediGene, PAREXEL and Biogen. She is currently the Chief Evangelist Officer and Chief People Officer at PeopleDoc, Inc., HR technology company. She has been responsible for helping clients operationalize their HR transformation vision and drive change through technology to increase efficiency and improve user experience. Previously she has managed Global HR Shared Services Organizations, Global Mobility Programs and Operations, Talent Acquisition and People Development Programs, HR Technology, HR Vendor Management, and Non-Employee Programs at Biogen. Additionally, Adriana has served as the lead HR Business Partner to the Corporate Functions organizations when she led a large HR team as well as served as the main point of contact for the Chief Finance Officer, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Information Officer. She led key company change initiatives. At PAREXEL, among others, she build a centralized European recruitment team and worked with the business and development team on M&A deals.
Adriana holds an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MA in Adult Educational Psychology & Educational Psychology from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München, in addition to a Clinical Psychology dual-degree from UCLA and Pontificia Universidade Catolica in Rio de Janeiro. In addition to her executive career, she is a member of MIT Women Alumni Leadership team and participated in the Biogen Women Leadership Program and the Women Innovation Network.