How to succeed as a chief human resources officer (CHRO)

October 31, 2023 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
The chief human resources officer is a key to the growth and success of many organizations as they oversee HR departments and develop strategies and policies that promote sustainable growth. Hear from an expert on  the skills and education you’ll need to succeed in this C-suite role.

What is a chief human resources officer (CHRO)?

A CHRO oversees an organization’s HR operations. They help companies to achieve compliance, strategically plan, manage company culture and create compensation plans. Perhaps most importantly, they oversee and develop how their company attracts, hires, trains and retains talent. Depending on the size of a company’s HR department, a CHRO may delegate tasks to other human resources officers or handle the majority of these tasks themselves.


Becoming a CHRO

Looking to upskill and take your human resources career to the C-suite level? We spoke with Jennifer Ward, an assistant teaching professor here at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, about how to do just that.

Below is our Q&A with Ward where she offered tips on how to elevate your HR career, the skills you’ll need to succeed as a CHRO, and why ASU Online’s Master of Human Resources and Employment Law can be a stepping stone to the role.


How does a chief human resources officer contribute to the success of an organization?

Even with the incredible pace of technological advancement, people remain key to the growth and success of every organization. As companies begin considering how to use AI to its fullest extent, they still require human expertise to succeed.

A CHRO serves as the strategic engine for optimizing the effectiveness of an organization's workforce. Above and beyond their role overseeing HR, a CHRO serves as a crucial member of the C-suite leadership team, planning and driving toward a strong future by leveraging the talents and strengths of employees and prioritizing the employee experience.


What skills does a CHRO need to succeed?

Vision: A CHRO needs to be able to see what the ideal workplace and employee experience could be, and make decisions on a day-to-day basis that drive the company toward that vision.

Empathy: When someone in leadership forgets that they’re leading humans, not just employees, their ability to lead suffers. A CHRO must keep the humanity of the members of their workforce at top of mind and ensure that decisions are mutually beneficial for both the company and its employees.

Expertise: The employment law landscape is complex and ever-changing, and it’s crucial that a CHRO ensures the company is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Flexibility: In addition to a changing legal landscape, with five generations in the workforce and constantly evolving cultural and social standards, a CHRO must be able to remain flexible and adapt to a changing environment. Maintaining the status quo because "it's always been done that way" won’t lead to success.

Creativity: The complexity of today's business environment means it’s common for a CHRO to be confronted with unique challenges on a regular basis. The CHRO must be able to come up with innovative solutions to those problems.


What tips do you have for someone seeking to make the jump from a human resources manager to a CHRO?

An HR manager should start learning everything they can about the business as a whole, even beyond the HR function. Decisions made by HR can have far-reaching effects on other parts of the business, and an aspiring CHRO should know and understand what those effects might be in order to effectively advise company leadership about decision-making.

When an HR manager can confidently explain not just what needs to be done for compliance reasons within HR, but also explain how different choices might affect the business itself, their credibility and value to the organization will increase significantly.


How does ASU Online’s Master of Human Resources and Employment Law prepare students for a career as a CHRO?

ASU Online's program provides a strong foundation in employment law. So you won’t only become an expert in the law but also know and understand how to keep your expertise current.

You’ll engage in practical application and analyze problems based on real-life situations to help develop your ability to be a creative, empathetic, and flexible problem-solver.

Earn your graduate degree while working full-time

With the right strategy and support, you can strike a balance between your educational goals and busy life. Learn more about the time management and strategic planning it takes for working professionals to earn their online master's degree.


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