What Makes A Successful HR Leader: A Q&A with Anne Molignano
Roshan Jayawardena recently sat down with Anne Molignano, former Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Sony Music Entertainment. With a HR career spanning 20 years, Anne has some innovative thoughts on the future of HR and how companies can better support their employees.
Tell us about your career trajectory and why you chose a career in HR?
After college my focus was to get into a business that I would be passionate about and where I could continue to learn. I was targeted about my approach and I took a temporary position that wasn’t in HR but allowed me to get my foot in the door at a big brand Entertainment company. I spent time learning the business, I networked and kept my eyes open for opportunities in the area that best fit my talent and purpose. For me, ultimately that was HR. The idea of progressing a business forward through people and talent was a super exciting prospect for me, and still continues to be.
Initially, I started in the Talent Recruitment area of HR and I worked my way up, seizing opportunities to grow. Since then, and throughout my 20 year career, I’ve gained invaluable experience across Strategic Sourcing, Talent Learning & Organisational Development, Engagement, HR Operations and Strategic Business Partnership. I’ve had the opportunity to lead teams across a myriad of dynamic and global businesses, both established and start ups.
What do you enjoy most about working in HR?
Working in the HR function I get to be an influential partner in so many areas of the business. Being part of the team that facilitates and shapes the relationship between people and their organization is fulfilling. I enjoy building relationships with employees at all levels of an organization and identifying the strategies that align, and marry their shared goals and this provides everyone with an important sense of achievement.
I love leading a team that is excited about creating innovative HR solutions and I get energy from marketing and influencing those solutions to the key stakeholders within the businesses. The feeling of achievement I’ve shared with my team when something we’ve created lands successfully into the business has been really rewarding.
What are your current thoughts on the industry?
It’s an exciting and important time for HR professionals. More than ever, companies are depending on HR leaders and their teams. In a successful organization that’s future focused, you need to have a global people strategy that is adopted by all levels and is actively addressing the needs of the workforce.
There is simultaneously a commerciality taking place in the field of HR where we are seeing more innovative developments across HR tech, talent solutions and services. Given this, companies are both dependent on HR as critical to the organization’s effectiveness, and are investing more resources than before into HR services.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing HR in the future?
There are many complex challenges facing HR now and in the future. The workforce is ever evolving and changing with individuals seeking corporations who are aligned to, and keen to address, the issues that are meaningful to them. The HR function sets the companies culture and it’s our responsibility to raise the issues that are relevant to the employees of that business.
People now consume information constantly and rapidly online and over social media. Future ready organizations need to be transparent and quick about sharing information. Employees want to be kept up-to-date their company’s position(s) relating to current events, activism, and social causes that they care about. Which introduces the blending of work and life. HR’s role in informing and building an integrated strategy across the corporation that is inclusive of these issues is important for the future.
What are some initiatives, or trends, that you are excited about in HR?
I am excited by the continued discussion around the evolving workforce of the future. I see a need for organizations to be really competitive around supporting employees more holistically. Again, this speaks to being intimately in tune with employees and their needs. Companies that acknowledge the needs of employees and are able to support them with real-time offerings around workplace wellness and flexibility, providing benefits that support work-life balance (such as working from home, childcare support and dry cleaning pickup) will ultimately win.
Key to this is the ever popular discussion around workforce analytics capabilities within HR. Companies investing in this space are differentiating themselves. Having global systems that speak to one another, and employing HR talent that has the skillset to work with data and insights is critical to the future development of effective, integrated people strategies.
What makes you successful leader?
I am honest, collaborative and curious. I care deeply about people and working together to solve problems. I have the patience to listen to people and to learn, which allows me to cultivate trusted relationships at all levels. This enables me to advise individuals in conflict, assess strategies for the future and deliver difficult messages when needed. I have broad commercial experiences to draw on and I can quickly envision solutions to everyday business challenges and goals. I effectively leverage my strong stakeholder relationships to land relevant projects, programs and solutions into a business. I love leading through a challenge and I tackle critical issues and crisis situations with calm, clarity and direction. I am also very competitive. I absolutely love leading teams and being part of a team who wants to win.
What career advice would you give to someone wanting to start an HR career?
Go for it! HR is an exciting and evolving space, massively important to any successful organization. An HR skillset is highly transferrable and can allow you to enjoy a career in any business you are passionate about. It is important when considering any role or career, to do your homework. Make sure that the culture of the company and “how” things get done aligns to your interests, purpose and style. It’s important to find out if the functional HR leadership has both the necessary management relationships, but is also willing to “hold up the mirror”, have the honest and difficult conversations required at all levels and bring the real and tough issues to the forefront.
Once you’ve landed in a great role, build relationships, ask questions, have a point of view, dig in and work hard. Have some fun along the way!
If you are an HR leader in the US, interested in being interviewed for a Q&A feature piece, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org