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Alumni Examine Innovation Trends in Human Resources

As companies look to find new ways to innovate their products and services, it is important to innovate human resources practices as well, alumni and professors from DePaul University’s Master of Science in Human Resources (MSHR) program advised during a fall panel discussion at the Driehaus College of Business.

“Human resources is a field built on people, and, as human beings, we too are always changing,” says Jaclyn Jensen, associate professor of management and faculty director of the MSHR program. “We seek to grow, be better, develop and learn, and companies that fail to innovate fail to capitalize on their most important asset.”

Jensen says that it is important for companies to innovate and to be forward looking, which will send a message to employees that you are looking after their needs. While not all change within a company can be proactive, doing right for an organization’s talent means looking at challenges and asking, “what can we do better?” Jensen notes.

In October, Jensen led the panel discussion, “Innovation in HR,” which was sponsored by the DePaul Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Chapter and coincided with the Chicago Ideas Week. DePaul alumni who are senior human resource leaders from Hyatt, Allstate, Conduent and Weichert Workforce Mobility discussed innovations in data science, diversity, talent development and total rewards programs to a packed auditorium. They also gave helpful advice to students who are looking to get into the human resources field.

“I learned that there is a great deal of innovation in HR spurred by DePaul alumni,” says Jensen after the event. “From predicting who will be successful in a claims role with analytics at Allstate, to technology supporting a consistent guest experience at Hyatt, I was really impressed with the use of data to support HR decision making in a way that advances our field and does right by people.”

HR Trends panel of experts
From left to right: Susan Wach, Stephen Cornejo Garcia, Linda VanDeventer and Lisa Rodriguez.

Here are some takeaways from alumni speakers at the “Innovations in HR” event:

Stephen Cornejo Garcia (BUS ’89), director of  Inclusive Diversity at Allstate:

“At Allstate, we created a visibility strategy (for employees). A visibility strategy has essentially the same outcome as sponsorship, which is to create opportunities, but the focus is for your (internal) sponsor to create visibility for you. They are not trying to necessarily create opportunities for you, but they are working with you to increase visibility for projects you are working on, to get you on high profile work, or to introduce you to executives in other areas. In our pilot program, out of 10 people, three were promoted in less than a year and several moved to different business areas and every single one of them is with the company. We recommended this as an enterprise talent strategy for any business area.”

Susan Wach (MBA ’01), director of Global HR Systems, Hyatt Hotels Corp.:

“One of the areas where we have implemented new technology is learning. When you go to Hyatt (anywhere), we want you to have the same experience. So when we hire someone at a Hyatt Regency in Chicago, we want them to be trained in the same ways as a server hired at a Park Hyatt in Beijing. We use social media on-demand and virtual classrooms where we can have the same person training a worldwide audience. We use a variety of different tools and a technology software platform to manage any kind of training. This is the most recent system implementation where we noticed a business need and implemented an innovative solution company-wide for HR functionality.”

Linda VanDeventer (MBA ’95), director, Total Rewards and Talent, Conduent, and adjunct professor, Driehaus College of Business:

“I think the area we need to innovate is staying relevant as a strategic business partner for our companies. Staying relevant as a human resources representative with your body of knowledge as a professional is also important and I think that is why SHRM is a great organization. There is always room for going forward.”

Lisa Rodriguez (MBA’01), regional vice president, Client Services Weichert Workforce Mobility:

“It is easy to get stuck doing only employee relations issues, annual enrollment or regulatory pieces. There’s so many different layers of HR that you can fall victim of getting lost in the day-to-day. So when you think about your future, when you think about innovation, think about the things that you can sink your teeth into that will make you excited about going to work. It’s important to stay connected to a group like SHRM, where you can share best practices and learn from each other.” 

Learn more about DePaul Master’s in Human Resources

Students interested in joining DePaul SHRM chapter should email: