Thursday, December 7, 2023

B2BNN’s 2016 HR Influencer Index

Last updated on December 31st, 2016 at 11:33 am

Call it HR, HCM or #futureofwork, but undoubtedly the rise of digital has morphed human resources execution into a world unlike we’ve ever seen before. And thus B2B NN is launching our first HR Influencer Index, where we profile the top executive, decision-makers and thought leaders whose work is rippling across the HR landscape.

We thank you for your reader-nominated submission to the Index, and we look forward to hearing your feedback on these 15 Influencers whose impact will continue to shape how and where we work.

Stewart Butterfield

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. Via Flickr:
Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. Via Flickr:

Few apps have enjoyed a better 2015 than Slack, the messaging app used within companies around the world, attracting more than 2 million daily active users. As CEO, Stewart Butterfield has propelled Slack to be one of the hottest startups of the decade. Just look at that client list: eBay, Samsung, Adobe, the U.S. State Department, Harvard University and the list goes on.

Stewart whet his startup appetite by founding Flickr, now one of the most popular photo websites in the world (and owned by Yahoo!). What began as a four-person operation from Stewart and fellow colleagues leaving Flickr has evolved into a 240-staff $45 million-annual-revenue giant that’s changing how companies talk within their own ecosystems. Slack joins an auspicious list of the so-called startup unicorns, that is companies that are valued at a billion dollars or more by their investors. And it’s just getting started.

Jacob Morgan
Author, Speaker
The Future Organization


If there’s any #futureofwork expert whose articles and keynotes are the subject of social media buzz, it’s Jacob Morgan. He’s neck deep in the space, having published his book The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization (Wiley) in 2014, and is the top speaker at The Future Organization to deliver talks on themes such as the future of work, the networked economy, managers of the future, employees of the future, millennials in the workplace, trends shaping the workplace, and much more. He’s brought his FOW knowledge to clients such as SAP, Box, Franklin Templeton Investments, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Sodexo, Safeway, and Cisco.

The San Francisco resident is excellent at boiling down his thesis in snackable sound bites, such as his outlook on HR’s evolving future: “The goal is to change the mentality to shift away from creating an environment where we assume people need to work there, to creating an environment where people want to work at an organization.”

Jeffrey Siminoff
Head of Diversity


2015 was a year Twitter came under fire for a lack of diversity in the work force, so there was immense pressure to do something quick. In late December, Twitter hired Jeffrey Siminoff, who was previously head of diversity at Apple, to lead Twitter’s charge into diversifying its staff.Jeffrey also was in charge of diversity at investment bank Morgan Stanley and during his stint there, he helped organize a summit on increasing LGBT presence on Wall Street.

His appointment came under fire as soon it was announced. Critics mocked Twitter’s decision to hire a white middle-aged male to run its diversity decisions, instead of snagging a candidate who reflected the kind of diverse work force Twitter was striving to attain. But we think you shouldn’t judge an exec by his colour, and we wait and see which changes Siminoff will bring to the social media table.

Christopher Hannegan
Executive Vice President and US Practice Chair, Employee Engagement

Edelman's Christopher Hannegan
Edelman’s Christopher Hannegan

As the founder and senior leader of Edelman’s Employee Engagement offering, Christopher Hannegan is responsible for leading the PR powerhouse into the next HR era. His nomination to the Index was reader-submitted, and his nominator said about his work: “He founded this important service offering for Edelman, and was an early expert on how companies can use social media to engage their workforce.” The nominator added: “Due in large part to Christopher’s innovations over the years, Edelman takes an inside-out approach to building corporate reputation and trust, starting with employees to ensure they understand strategy and are emotionally invested in their company’s success.”

His work is recognized beyond these kind words, of course. The Employee Engagement program has won over 12 industry awards in the last three years, including the well-respected SABRE in the category of internal communications campaign of the year.

David Sacks


If you haven’t heard of Zenefits, then you haven’t heard of one of the hottest tech startups in the HR space. As a SaaS firm, it offers cloud-based platform to businesses, both big and small, for managing multiple HR services such as health insurance, payroll, compliance, paid time off, benefits, employee onboarding, stock option management, and more. Based in San Francisco, it launched in 2013 and raised a whopping $500 million round at a valuation of $4.5 billion back in May.

As Inc. writes, “Zenefits can benefit from an atmosphere where health care continues to be a top concern for most entrepreneurs, who worry about cost and are looking for access to opportunities, various studies show. Even firms that fall below the 50-employee threshold that requires companies to offer qualified plans under the ACA want to offer health care to stay competitive with their hiring.”

Aneel Bhusri

Aneel Bhusri, CEO of WorkDay. Flickr photo via Financial Times
Aneel Bhusri, CEO of WorkDay. Flickr photo via Financial Times

If there’s any anecdote summing up this influencer’s dedication to HR, it’s what the Financial Times reported last week: “Aneel Bhusri, chief executive of Workday, personally interviewed every one of his software company’s first 500 hires to ensure they would fit in.” But beyond this A-level move, Aneel has powered Workday to be a major player in HR. Put simply, the company is an on‑demand financial management and human capital management software vendor. In the human capital management arena, its tools offer self-service features to help firms effectively organize, staff, and pay their global workforce.

Its momentum isn’t waning: Workday announced more than 135 companies now use the company’s accounting and financial applications, including Netflix, TripAdvisor and commercial real estate manager Cushman & Wakefield.

Reid Hoffman
Executive Chairman

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. Flickr photo via
Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. Flickr photo via

If video killed the radio star, then LinkedIn killed recruiting stars. That space has been upended by the employment-focused social network boasting 380 members, thanks in part to the many ways to find the next great B2B superstar on LinkedIn. Reid has long been powering LinkedIn’s innovation, and the network is propelling forward in 2016: it plans to create what the company calls the “economic graph,” which would track all employment activity in the world, for the 3.3 billion people who work, with LinkedIn as the platform, as New Yorker writes. Also, the network is fast becoming a hotbed for business advice, which began when Hoffman invited influencers such as Bill Gates, Deepak Chopra and Arianna Huffington to regularly contribute to the site.

If you aren’t caught up on all the latest LinkedIn moves, be sure to read these two B2B NN reports.

Damon Klotz
Digital & Community Leader
Culture Amp

Damon Klotz of Culture Amp. Photo via Twitter
Damon Klotz of Culture Amp. Photo via Twitter

When you think of Australia and HR, Damon Klotz should surface above the rest. Named as one of the top 10 most engaged Australian marketers on LinkedIn, Klotz leads the digital strategy at Culture Amp, an Australia software company aiming to help hundreds of the most innovative organisations in the world build better workplaces (with an office in San Fran, where Damon is based). He honed his HR talents at Ramsay  Health, which operates more than 210 hospitals across Australia, and he was responsible for super-charging the social media presence of Ramsay and teaching CEOs about the value of being active on social.

His keynotes are sought after by conferences and companies across the world; Damon has been invited to speak at events in the United Kingdom, Europe and all over Australia.

Glen Cathey
SVP Talent Strategy and Innovation

Glen Cathey of kforce
Glen Cathey of kforce

Based in Tampa Bay, Florida, Glen Cathey is a talent acquisition star who is optimizing his HR skills at Kforce, a professional staffing firm. Over the past 16 years, he has continued to develop a high level of expertise in leveraging information systems to achieve Just-In-Time talent identification and acquisition – sourcing, recruiting, and hiring/placing candidates from resume databases, the internet, job board databases, social networking sites and any other source of human capital data he can access. He has also served as the thought leader for sourcing/social/recruiting strategies, technologies, and processes for firms with more than 70,000 hires annually.

To put it mildly, Glen knows HR inside and out, and that’s why he’s making our HR Influencer Index this year.

Eric Riz
Founder, CEO
Empty Cubicle

Empty Cubicle founder Eric Riz
Empty Cubicle founder Eric Riz

Eric Riz wants to change how employers verify resume information. In pre-launch mode, his startup Empty Cubicle aims to be the world’s first job search recruitment platform based on verified data. By comparing resumes to each other in the Empty Cubicle database, the Toronto-based company can scour data to check if someone’s executive summary, say, is plagiarizing from another’s summary. The resume is graded for employers, and they are given a shortlist of verified candidates.

Eric cut his teeth working with Microsoft’s SharePoint software, and with those tools he learned to focus on problem solving for many customers. He found the most common issue with customers was HR, “nine out of ten times,” he says. And with Empty Cubicle, it’s all about “working to create better smarter systems to help make organizations have better faster processes.” Private beta is scheduled to launch in March, with plans to go out of beta in September.

Undoubtedly, Empty Cubicle is an HR startup to watch in the coming months.

Jennifer and Jim Moss
Plasticity Labs

Jim and Jennifer Moss of Plasticity Labs. (YouTube screenshot)
Jim and Jennifer Moss of Plasticity Labs. (YouTube screenshot)

Happiness at work matters. The Mosses, Jennifer and husband Jim, CHO and CEO respectively, are striving to make work a happier place through Waterloo-based Plasticity Labs, which has raised $2.1 million in VC funding to bring its message that a happier workplace is a more productive workplace to the world.

“On a macro level, the key psychological drivers of performance are relatively similar for many individuals and organizations,” said co-founder and CMO (and Jim’s wife) Jennifer Moss in an email to TechCrunch.

“By watching and measuring these traits closely over time, we identify the patterns of sentiment that are both correlated and causal to the performance of organizations (sales, net promoter score, productivity, sick days, truancy). We learn the nuances specific to industry verticals, demographics, or market segments, and then tune predictions accordingly, it is very much like stock analytics that investors use to backwards model and de-risk financial investments.”

Then the company takes data models and uses them to develop training programs that “reinforce the psychological traits most common of happy, high performing individuals.”

The Mosses, who started the business after a personal shock forced them to both reevaluate their lives, are examples of applying what they preach.

Ruchi Bhatia
Recruitment Branding Lead


Ruchi Bhatia is the head of recruitment branding at IBM and one of the most visible and influential voices on how the recruitment and collaboration space is changing. She has also been honoured with awards and accolades such as: Top 50 Women to follow in Asia, Top 10 Sheroes in India, Sheroes Mentor and Top 100 HR Influencers in India & Worldwide. Since 2007, Bhatia has brought her HR passion and acumen to IBM, and aims to influence through expertise.

Sameer Patel
SVP, Product Management and Go-to-Market, SAP Cloud / Successfactors


A former consultant who has been with SAP for several years, Sameer Patel’s work on communities and collaboration is some of the most innovative and forward thinking in the space. Prior to SAP, he enjoyed 15 years of leading enterprise technology teams in services and systems integrator business focused on the designing and executing customer, employee and partner networks and associated applications. Customers have included Intel, Nike, CA, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, XO Communications, Symex, McKesson, Wrigley and others.

He is always on the lookout for ways to bolster customer engagement and HR skillsets. As he said in this 2014 interview with CXOTalk: “…if we start to look at a way to engage our customers in a very contextual way, with the right kind of information and the data that they are looking for, you start to really rethink what customer relationship management truly should mean.”

Alan Lepofsky
VP and Principal Analyst
Constellation Research

Alan Lepofsky. Via Google+
Alan Lepofsky. Via Google+

As Alan writes succinctly on his LinkedIn profile: “I help companies understand how to develop and/or implement collaboration solutions that help employees get their work done.” As VP at Constellation Research (which we profiled when we named Ray Wang in our B2B Influencer Index), Alan analyzes the evolution of communication technologies, and assists employees, customers, and partners share information and operate more effectively with collective knowledge.

Intelligent, tech-savvy and forward-thinking, Alan is clear-headed voice in the often overheated I0T/future of work space.

Dean Witherspoon
CEO and Co-founder
Health Enhancement Systems

deanwDean helps lead Health Enhancement Systems, which creates wellness campaigns and behavior change tools for corporations. Few Influencers bring to the corporate table Dean’s understanding of both physical and mental wellness ideas that can bolster employee productivity. After all, a healthy staffer is going to look forward to waking up every morning to bring great ideas to that 9 a.m. meeting!


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