Why don’t HR Professionals become CEOs and COOs?
From India, Haldia
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Dear Colleague,
Very interesting and very important question raised by you to this forum.

Why don't HR Professionals are not become CEOs and COOs ?

As you will agree HR professionals are moving faster now a days in the career and going close to the Board of Directors Level in many companies.

Sharing few known examples for the purpose of elaborating the subject.

1. There are good examples that the Past Chairman of Neiveli Lignite Corporation ( NLC) Tamil Nadu was previously HR Head and then he came to Chairman of NLC Neyveli.

2. Leena Nair, the chief human resources officer (CHRO) of Unilever, was recently named as global CEO of French fashion group Chanel. Nair, who has spent about three decades at the consumer goods company and is also a member of Unilever Leadership Executive and will be based in London. Nair, 52, has the rare distinction of being the first female, first Asian, and the youngest-ever CHRO of London-based Unilever, which is a household name in beauty & personal care as well as foods & refreshment segments.

There are so many other examples also where HR Turned to COO or CEO in our country itself. To cut a long story short, an HR professional can become the CEO of a company. If he/she is open to learning the business and looking at things with broader perspectives. After all, as HR professionals commonly say, “Human resources isn't a thing we do; it's the thing that runs the business

In fact HR is the most suitable for COO or CEO provided they pick up the technical and financial aspects of Business as they are already expert in People side of the business which is the most difficult part of any Global or Domestic Company for that matter. Any HR can become a COO or CEO once they are ready with their competencies relating to :

1. The ability to build teamwork across locations and countries
2. The ability to think strategically
3. The ability to communicate and set expectations in the minds of key functions
4. The ability to motivate strong performances
5. The ability to develop required leaders for current and future business
6. Risk Taking ability with clear calculations
7. Understanding the Business Environment very fast than others
8. Leading the Brand and Products as Being the First to customer
9. Innovate and keep Innovate new logics for business
10. Keep all stake holders delighted with futuristic service and products and to be ahead of competitors

In short very well HR can become a COO or CEO provided the required Competencies are present and the Talent is ready to experiment the business with balanced profit in a sustained manner which is very comfortable role for any HR

From India, Chennai
Ramanamurthy S V
One more example of HR Head becoming CEO / COO is at Dr Reddy's Laboratories. Mr. Soumen Chakraborty joined as Head of HR and in due course of time, he became Head of Finance, Operations etc.
HR Heads to become business partners and take part in every aspect of business to reach the top position in due course of time.

From India, Delhi

HR is one of the specialised roles in organisations. Unfortunately, like Accountants, they focus inwardly, their job, their role, their department. They don't look beyond their nose. Precisely for this reason, these days, a new terms has been coined - HR Business Partner, in order to enable HR to look outwardly, involve in policy formulation, business focus, financial evaluation, interest in technical matters and so on. Day is not far off, when more HR people become CEOs or COOs. !
From India

Gone are the days when Personnel Mgt. was treated as a staff function and cast aside to the sidelines. Now with HRM becoming a strategic HR the traditional divide into line and staff functions have become obsolete. Like other areas of work HR also needs specialised knowledge and experience, so it is not possible to every person to do well in HR profession. HR Managers have an overall vision of the organisation and are best suited to be the CEOs of the respective companies.
From India, Mumbai
As many of our friends has mentioned with proven examples of Many HR's becoming COO or CEO of an Organization. Precisely HR's knows the business, they will be knowing the 360 degree of Business Operations.
HR's can become COO or CEO and it purely depends on the individual's interest in learning Business acumen and should have knowledge / skills of Finance Modules in perception as Stake Holder.

From India, Bengaluru
Definetly HR professional have defined approach to run a company better other than any one. Actually workmen's behavior and attitute decides future of any organisation. HR is the key to open lock of organisation success. In future you must seen many of HR professional on leading position of companies.
From India, Mumbai


This is not true that HR professionals cannot be CEOs, COOs, or any other role. As Drsivaglobalhr mentioned above, we have got so many examples where HR professionals turned into Chairman, COO and CEO.

In simpler words, it is nowhere written that HR professionals can’t step into other roles.

Truth be told, it completely depends on an individual how he or she wants to grow professionally. At the same time, companies also play a huge role here! Employers and management should give opportunities to HR managers to get out of their zone and try other roles, especially people who have that zeal in them.

As Drsivaglobalhr already discussed, HR professionals have every required skill and talent to be CEOs and COOs.

If you are an HR expert who wants to become a CEO or COO someday, keep upskilling till you become one!

Hope this answer helps you!

From India, Noida


I firmly believe that HR can drive or bring back the animal spirit of the corporation. However, along with human skills HR need to excel into operational matters. Just referring the recent article published in Times of India(ToI), 60% leaders from operational experience become CEOs, surprisingly no HR fraternity mark their presence in list.

Kindly refer the attached article.

Happy Readings!

Amol Nakve

From India, Mumbai
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It is not conventional ADMN or HR, Today it is performance or Business HR. This is linked with all functional areas in performance appraisals.

The CHRO, the go-to expert on people and talent, might be the best choice when selecting a new president or CEO for your company in my view and research supports.

According to a recent study by Dave Ulrich, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, and Ellie Filler, a senior client partner at executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry. Ulrich and Filler found that at top companies, CHROs are not only among the top three highest paid professions, just behind CEOs and COOs, but also they exhibit leadership qualities that significantly overlap with their CEOs.
As has been answered by other experts there are now many HR orientation professionals have become CEOs.
Internationally, 1.Lisa M Weber President MetLife 2004-10; 2.Marry Bara CEO General Motors from 2014 till date 3.Nigel Travis CEO Dunkin Brand, 4.Anne M Mucahy CEO Xerox 5.Bernard Fontana CEO Framatone.
All Business HR professionals you have abundant chance for being CEOs.

From India, Tiruchirappalli
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