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A Conversation with China Gorman

Posted By Greg Morton, Monday, March 21, 2016

A successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector, China Gorman is a true innovator and futurist for the HR industry. She is a sought after consultant, speaker and writer who brings the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources. China is the former CEO of the Great Place to Work® Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and President of Lee Hecht Harrison. We are also very honored to have China as a member of the NCHRA Advisory Council

And now, a conversation with China...

How do you think HR has changed over the course of your career and where is it going?
In its development from Personnel to Human Resources to Talent Management, the function is becoming a more integral part of the business strategy and leadership of many organizations. As HR practitioners transition to true business leaders (not partners, but leaders), Talent will become as essential a function as Finance, IT and Product. More and more HR leaders are coming from the business, and more and more business leaders are coming from HR. That’s the best outcome we can hope for. 

What three skills do you believe an HR person who aspires to be a senior practitioner should have?
1. Attain and maintain functional mastery
2. Attain business competencies and a reputation for being a business leader first, an HR practitioner second
3. Always, always have solutions to present based on your functional HR expertise and your business acumen. Be known for providing workable alternatives rather than just being able to identify the challenges.

There is a growing trend of Senior HR Managers moving into C-suite roles. What is the impetus for this and do you think this trend will continue?
This is an awesome validation that HR professionals truly can be seen and can operate as business leaders. CFOs and CMOs are routinely elevated to the CEO office. Although still not common, the growing incidences of CHROs becoming CEOs should give HR leaders confidence that the profession is on the right track.

You’ve been very successful. What led you to Human Resources as a profession?   
I’m the most famous HR person who has never been in HR! What I am is a successful business executive who leads businesses in the Human Capital market sector. I’ve aligned myself with organizations that bring talent solutions to business through HR. So HR leaders have always been my customer. And, of course, being the COO and Interim CEO of SHRM aligned me even closer to the profession. 

I love HR people. Despite (in many cases) being the Rodney Dangerfield of the corporate world, HR professionals are focused on the most important elements of organizational success:  the people. There is no organization without the people. There are no customers without the people. There are no products, innovation, brand or social impact without the people. People are the heart of every organization’s success and HR enables an organization to acquire, develop, and deploy the organization’s most critical resource. And as the economy and demographics continue to shift, HR’s contribution to creating sustainable business models is all about the availability and stickiness of talent. This makes HR’s value undeniable.

What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?
Building and leading teams to achieve more than they thought was possible. A leader’s true job is in creating and reinforcing a culture that enables humans to be their best every day. I’ve worked hard to ensure that every possible obstacle is removed so that my teams can outperform even my high expectations. 

Tell us more about what you are doing now...
All of my previous leadership positions – professional and volunteer – have pointed me to the intersection of organization culture, humanity and business performance. I currently serve on the boards of several organizations that are bringing products and services to the market that relate to this intersection. WorkHuman (powered by Goboforce), WorldBlu, The Workforce Institute at Kronos, and now the NCHRA Advisory Board all are allowing me to focus on this deep area of interest for me. Additionally, I write the popular HR blog, Data Point Tuesday found on my website ( and have a strong public speaking practice.

Do you have more questions or comments?
Please feel free to post below.
Thank you for reading!

Greg Morton

Tags:  CEO  HR  HR Leadership  NCHRA 

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