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Taking your seat at the table: Michelle Rand, VP HR Americas Hitachi

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2019

Summary of Vlog Post by Emma Lokar HR Intern (Graduating May 2020)

Taking Your Seat at The Table: Michelle Rand, VP HR America’s Region & Global Pre-sales at Hitachi Vantara

A Seat table is Not Guaranteed:
Recently HR has paved their way into “the room” as essential players in companies’ strategies, and overall business impact. However, HR can still be thought of “Yes-men”, personnel that files paperwork, and ensures sure job levels are correct. In several organizations Human Resources does not have their place in the Boardroom.

After starting a new job with a new company Michelle learned that not all companies see the impact Human Resources can have on the business through having a “seat at the table”. After earning her seat at a previous company this was a challenge Michelle did not know she would have to face.

Michelle gives us her advice and take on how HR can demonstrate their value to the business as a whole to earn a seat in the Boardroom:

Be a Problem Solver for the Business: Learn the Language

"Get yourself up to speed on the business, and truly understand the language of all the functions of the business"

HR has the opportunity to be a problem solver for the business. It is vital to understand what the biggest issues the organization are facing. Not every problem can be solved through numbers. Michelle explains, “CEO’s do not always want to see numbers and metrics. Find their biggest issue and work to solve it”. HR has the reach of the people side of the business, and they can leverage this perspective to solve problems within the organization. The key to having an impact is to know how the other functions work, their jobs and roles, and how to speak their language.

"People tend to hear advice more when you are speaking in their language and show you really understand their jobs"

Being educated on other parts of the company outside of HR you gain trust by understanding their roles and what problems they are working though. After you understand their problems, you can put your HR lens over the issue, and work to find a solution.

Have a Point-of-View:
When it is common for HR to be known as the “Yes-men” of the organization it is essential that you, “have an opinion with your leader, and your own point of view”. Present your ideas constructively and show your way of seeing things. HR has a unique lens on how the  business works and it can be used to positively impact the organization’s problems. The balance with this is knowing what your leaders find most important and using your way of seeing this to best help the situation:

1 - Challenge the solution, and sometimes you need to create tension to drive the change.
2 - Know when to pick your battles, and the times where it is best to keep your opinion to yourself.

Every CEO needs a partner in the business who understands the organization and the people in the organization. Human Resources has the particular perspective of having both skills and can be the individual who can tell the CEO what they need to hear in regard to the business, and the people who drive the business forward.

"CEO’s can be lonely people, and it’s important to be there to advise and guide them. They have a million things going on at once. It’s vital that HR is the person they can go to help solve problems"

Michelle was working for a CEO and a company where there was problem with retention. The CEO asked HR to put retention bonuses in place. After looking into the retention issue HR found that these employees were not leaving because of lack of compensation. These employees just needed a job change or rotation. Sometimes a “financial lever is not the best solution”, and it showed the CEO that HR could solve a problem that was impacting several functions of the company with the skill-set Human Resources has.

Last Advice:
As a Human Resources employee, don’t give up. Earning your seat at the table takes times. Credibility and trust are created in the long run and will not happen overnight. Find the rhythm and pattern of the organization through their language, metrics, and leader priorities. Approach your role with curiosity. Be ready to learn and ask questions but know the answers to the questions that you’re being asked.

  1. Understand the business outside of HR
  2. Learn and know the language of other functions
  3. Use these skills to solve problems with your lens and point-of-view
  4. Be the one your CEO can rely on
  5. Be curious
  6. Don’t give up


HR Masterminds: Experience with your Peer Group

How has your HR Peer Group Helped You?
Being in an environment to share initiatives that I was trying to drive, and receiving advice on how best to push them through. I was new to the area after my job changed and I initially joined selfishly to meet other HR people in the region. After the help I received I was able to pilot new ideas and implement them faster.


P.S.  If you are leading in challenging times, and crave the (virtual) company of a group of HR leaders, join us in the HR Circle Group each month for live video discussions to solve your most pressing issues and learn from other HR leaders like you. To learn more:





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