From HR to CEO
Going from HR to CEO is not an everyday occurrence, nor is it the straightest career path, but there are several individuals who have made the major move from HR to CEO. It is obvious that having human resource skills is definitely a plus for CEOs. An excerpt from a recent article about CEOs on ChiefExecutive.net reads, "the leaders of today's fastest-growing, most dynamic companies share one common characteristic: they understand how to put talent at the center of everything they do." In her book How to Think Like a CEO, D.A. Benton describes the following 22 vital traits to be the person at the top:
- Secure in self
- In control of attitude
- Continuously improving
- Honest and ethical
- Thinking before talking
- Publicly modest
- Aware of style
- Gutsy / A little wild
- A tad theatrical
- Detail oriented
- Good at their job and willing to lead
- Fighters for their people
- Willing to admit mistakes, yet unapologetic
- Good storytellers
Nigel Travis Goes From HR for Burger King to CEO of Dunkin' Brands
Nigel Travis starts his incredible journey to the top during his time at Burger King where he first served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources and then later as the Managing Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. After that, Travis made his move from HR to CEO when he began in 2005 as the President and CEO for Papa John's International, the world's third largest pizza company. During his time with Papa John's his leadership brought outstanding results for the company by tripling online sales, rolling out several new products, as well as attaining industry-leading comp sales, consistent earnings growth and excellent franchise relationships. More recently, Travis joined Dunkin' Brands, the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, as CEO in October 2008 where he continues to work his magic and grow the business.
During an interview with Nation's Restaurant News in 2009, Travis was asked about the most important lesson he's learned from his Dunkin' Brands predecessor, Jon Luther. Travis replied, "His relationship with people is exceptional and it's something I like to think I also have. We both work hard at the relationships we have with employees; no company can be successful unless you have great relationships in the corporate office and in the field. We have similar styles when it comes to that."
HR Extraordinaire Lisa Weber Becomes President of MetLife's Individual Business Unit
Weber says, "What is important is that you demonstrate that you can learn the business regardless of whether you're in the business. Figure out how what you do every day connects to the bigger picture. If you do HR for HR's sake, you'll continue to keep working on those file cabinets."
After spending 10 years at PaineWebber where Lisa Weber held several senior human resources positions, she moved on to direct human resources practices and strategies at Merrill Lynch and Manufacturers Hanover. By 1998, Weber moved on to work at MetLife where she served as Executive Vice President of Human Resources until 2001. At that time she moved up as an Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. She was responsible for the worldwide MetLife brand, as well as communications, human resources, corporate ethics and compliance, audit, corporate services and more. In 2004, she became the President of Individual Business for MetLife Inc., which meant she was in charge of 45% of the company's overall operating earnings. During her time as president, she increased the annual operating earnings to approximately $2 billion - a 50% increase.
How Did Anne Mulcahy Go From HR to CEO?
Starting her career with Xerox in 1976, Anne Mulcahy was hired as a Field Sales Representative. Over the years she held many sales and supervisor positions as she moved up the corporate ladder. For example, from 1992 through 1995 Mulcahy was a Vice President of Human Resources of Xerox where she was responsible for compensation, benefits, HR strategy, labor relations, management development and employee training. After a few more steps up the ladder, she became the President and Chief Operating Officer from May 2000 to July 2001. In August of 2001 she reached the pinnacle as the Chief Executive Officer of Xerox Corp. Although she retired in July 2009, she retains her position as the Chairperson of the Board of Xerox.
John Hofmeister: From EVP of Global HR for Shell Oil to President of Shell Oil
From 1973 until 2005, Hofmeister moved up through the ranks of human resources. In 1973 he started in a human resources management program at General Electric Company. Many years later, he held a Vice President - Human Resources position for Northern Telecom, Inc. (also known as Nortel) and then moved to AlliedSignal, Inc. (now known as Honeywell International). In 1997 he becomes the Group Human Resources Director for Royal Dutch/Shell Group Companies, based in the Hague and London. Then his big jump came in 2005 when he became the President of Shell Oil Company and U.S. Country Chair. After retiring from Shell Oil in 2008, he became founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy.
How Can You Go From HR to CEO?
As you can tell, there is no straight route for moving from HR to CEO, but there are steps you can take to point you in the right direction. For example, earning your Master of Science in Human Resource Development Online from U.S. News & World Report-ranked Villanova University is definitely a step in the right direction. Even though you're busy building your career, this proven 100% online video-based e-learning program eliminates the common barriers of time and location. You can take courses whenever it's convenient for you. In addition to putting you a degree above the rest, you'll be gaining skills that will take you further in your career.
Although it's more of a career curve ball than a straight shot, going from HR to CEO sure has been a home run for these individuals. Now it's your turn to take the next step toward becoming CEO by earning your Master of Science in Human Resource Development online from acclaimed Villanova University - 100% online!