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HR Women to Watch in 2023

In recent years, HR professionals around the globe have chosen to rise up and put their best foot forward in the face of ongoing daunting workplace changes.

However, we’re shifting focus and taking special notice of those female HR professionals, in particular, who have been making waves in their businesses by harnessing both their innate and learned HR skills, ultimately contributing to the new world of work in ways that are sure to inspire you (if they haven’t already).

Here is our list of HR Women to Watch in 2023...

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1. Leena Nair: CHRO at Unilever

As the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Unilever, a British multinational consumer goods company focused on nutrition, hygiene, and personal care brands, Leena Nair is not only the first female CHRO, but the first Asian CHRO as well as the youngest in the history of the company.

Being the lead of a global people strategy that includes more than 160,000 employees in 100+ countries, Nair dictates that her purpose is to ‘ignite the human spark to build a better business and a better world’, with an aim to create an inclusive workplace culture where people from diverse backgrounds can thrive.

If all that wasn’t already impressive, during her time working at Unilever India, Nair pioneered the Career by Choice initiative, a programme that aims to bring women who have dropped off the career ladder, back to work.

While Unilever has always strived to be a gender-balanced organisation, when Nair originally joined the company back in 1992, only about 3% of employees were women.

Today, thanks to her influence and a number of incredible diversity initiatives (including flexible working, maternity, and paternity leave) 36% of employees - and 31% of managers - are women (noted at the end of 2022) and 23% of women sit at the most senior level of the company - Unilever Leadership Executive.

Nair is a true champion of fair treatment, access, and opportunities at work and in life, and for these reasons, we feel that she’s undoubtedly one of HR’s most influential women to watch this year. 

3 People Having A Meeting

2. Amelia Ransom: VP at Smartsheet

Amelia Ransom, SPHR, recently became VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Smartsheet, a collaboration and work management software service, focusing her time on developing her employees with a major emphasis on culture and diversity.

Prior to her switch to Smartsheet in August 2021, Ransom was Senior Director of Engagement and Diversity at another software company by the name of Avalara for nearly four years and Director of Talent at Nordstrom for twelve years prior to that - so we know this lady knows what she’s talking about when it comes to creating a dynamic workforce. 

To add to her long list of credentials, Ransom is also a keynote and motivational speaker, as well as a seasoned HR executive, using the abundance of skills she’s acquired in her 20+ years of HR experience in various HR functions (i.e., recruitment and development) to improve business functions by implementing a people-first agenda.

This means utilising her L&D expertise to empower employees to show up as their best selves and help maximise their potential while she works to shape business goals and objectives in alignment with business needs.

By understanding who the people within the company are and what support they need, Ransom excels in offering direction and creating positive business impacts all the while making employees feel valued and accepted for who they are.

To this end, we feel Ransom is among some of the most powerful women in HR today, using her influence to better company policies and visions while working towards a better, more inclusive world of work. 

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3. Claude Silver: CHO at VaynerMedia

With so much emphasis on mental health these past 18+ months, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t give mention to Claude Silver, Chief Heart Officer (CHO) at VaynerMedia, a creative media agency based in New York.

As a self-described ‘emotional optimist, coach, manager, and mentor’, Silver uses a unique approach to combining ‘agency with empathy’ when it comes to leading her 1200+ employees, with a driving purpose to be in touch with the heart of each individual in the company to create a three-dimensional culture of professional growth and belonging.

In other words, Silver aims to make VaynerMedia (and VaynerX) a place that employees can call home while they work. She does this by utilising her diverse background in Psychology and Human Development in line with her excellent marketing and social strategies.

Workplace culture is directly aligned with leadership and how they ensure the wellbeing of their employees, and Silver greatly contributes to a workplace where business leaders work together with their employees to find answers and solutions rather than blindly dictating what the next steps should be.

This level of transparency enables employees to feel safe, heard, and motivated at work; a goal that so many other organisations are still working towards.

2 Girls Meeting In Cafe

4. Gauri Das: Head of HR & Admin at India Factoring and Finance Solutions Limited

Engineer turned HR professional Gauri Das is an international TEDx speaker and the Membership Lead for the Mumbai Chapter of PSAI (the Professional Speakers Association of India) with more than 15 years of experience in aligning HR strategy with business goals.

Among Das’ top priorities are supporting businesses in driving performance, creating the right workplace culture, and reinventing the employee experience - all of which are among the top priorities for HR and business alike in 2023.

Das’ mantra, however, is ‘passion with compassion’, a phrase she lives up to by mentoring students and young professionals and advocating for female empowerment along with her plethora of other commitments. 

This inspiring young woman has proved to be so influential in her work and her published writing that she has, in fact, been recognised with awards and through various accolades, including:

  • Top 10 Global Women of HR
  • HR 100 Under 40
  • Top HR Mind
  • Economic Times Young HR Leader, and
  • LinkedIn Person of the Year 2020

Pretty incredible, right? We thought so too.

2 Girls Going Over Work

5. Lolly Daskal: President and Founder of Lead from Within

President and founder of Lead from Within, a global leadership programme and consultancy, Lolly Daskal has been described as the ‘most influential woman in the world’.

While this title brings with it a tall order, no one is up for the task more than Daskal.  With clients ranging from C-suite professionals to burgeoning entrepreneurs, she’s one of the most sought-after female leaders around the globe, with her expertise spanning across fourteen countries, six languages, and literally hundreds of global businesses.

So, what does she do exactly?

In short, Daskal offers tailor-made programmes in leadership and organisational development, helping cultivate the right values, vision, and culture for individuals and organisations for the long term.

Using what she refers to as a ‘heart-based leadership approach’, Daskal assists people and businesses reach and exceed their performance potential with the sole aim to make a genuine impact at work and in the world. 

2 People Having A Meeting

6. Francine Katsoudas: Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer at Cisco

As the Executive VP and Chief of People, Policy & Purpose at the multinational technology corporation Cisco, Francine Katsoudas’ role might not sound so simple; however, for this HR trendsetter, it’s all about the people.

As she puts it, “The greatest insights into what employees need are going to come directly from the employees themselves”, so she pays particular attention to how she can best help her company and keep employees engaged as the HR space continues to transform.

For instance, during the last three years, Katsoudas made sure to place special focus on implementing unique, company-wide practices that enabled Cisco to efficiently manage communities, customers, and partners who were working remotely or had to operate in virtual environments around the world.

From bridging the digital divide and environmental issues to ensuring the future of work is inclusive, it’s no wonder Katsoudas’ outstanding HR skills and innovative HR concepts are used as examples by HR professionals around the world. 

In the words of Cisco: ‘Power to an Inclusive Future for All’.



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