Who Does the World’s Largest HR Org Hire When it Needs a New HR Chief?

Illustration by Dreamstime.
Illustration by Dreamstime.

What do you do when you’re the world’s largest HR organization and you need a new human resources chief?

If you are SHRM, you go out and hire someone with a varied, interesting, and non-traditional (at least as it pertains to HR) background to be your new chief human resources officer.

According to a SHRM press release, as well as an internal memo from CEO Hank Jackson, Dr. Jeff T. H. Pon will join the Society for Human Resource Management as CHRO on March 12.

Memo from SHRM’s CEO

Here is Jackson’s memo:

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to let you know that I have hired an individual for the SHRM CHRO position, Dr. Jeff T. H. Pon, who will start on March 12, 2012. We will be issuing a press release soon. The search has been intensive, but I believe we have identified the right individual to lead our HR functions, and strategic initiatives that will make significant contributions to the profession.

Dr. Pon has a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Alliant International University and a B.A. from the University of Southern California. He has an impressive record of achievement. He is a certified Human Capital Strategist (HCS); however, he indicated that he is anxious to sit for the HR Certification Institute exam.

He is currently President and COO of Futures Inc., an organization whose mission is to help connect returning military and unemployed/underemployed veterans with jobs. At Futures Dr. Pon has led the company’s development of HR technology services that leverages skills latticing, interests and preferences with social networking to better match talent to employers. He has also used his relationship with private sector Human Resource leaders to support the hiring of the military veterans and their families, a precedent that could be helpful with our CHRO strategy.

Prior to working for Futures Inc., Dr. Pon served in several human resource and HR consulting positions including: Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., where he was responsible for developing solutions for federal HR organizations; Director of Brandsoft Mentoring where he was responsible for aligning business operations and workforce planning for multiple Global 1000 companies; Chief Human Capital Officer at US Department of Energy where he handled workforce management and development; and Executive Vice President of HR at Grand Battery Technologies where he was responsible for US and global HR functions.

I have been impressed with Jeff’s understanding of the future of human resource management in the global business environment and I look forward to introducing him to you. I believe he will be a great addition to the SHRM Leadership Team and affiliated organizations.

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Best regards,


“Anxious” to sit for the HRCI exam

You can parse that memo, and Hon’s background, as you see fit, but I was struck by how Jackson went out of his way to mention that, “(Pon) is a certified Human Capital Strategist (HCS); however, he indicated that he is anxious to sit for the HR Certification Institute exam.”

This seems (at least to me) as an attempt to head off possible criticism that the new Chief Human Resources Officer for the world’s largest HR organization is not HRCI certified. That’s been an issue with the SHRM Members for Transparency group  — that so many of the sitting SHRM Board  members are not HRCI certified, and how much of a change that is from past practice.

My guess is that this will be an issue for some concerning Pon’s appointment as CHRO, too, and Jackson’s mention that he’s “anxious’ to sit for the certification exam is an attempt to get out in front of the issue and answer concerns before they surface. The press release from SHRM about Pon’s appointment makes specific reference to this too, indicating that Pon “stated that “I look forward to adding ‘SPHR’” to his credentials.

Dr. Pon also added this: “I am thrilled to be joining this esteemed HR organization at such an exciting time,” he said in the SHRM press release. “The opportunity to contribute to SHRM’s efforts to strengthen its membership, build global competencies and engage senior HR leaders is a unique opportunity to give back to the profession that has given me so much.”

John Hollon is managing editor of Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. He's also the former founding editor of TLNT and a frequent contributor to ERE and the Fistful of Talent blog.