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The Evolving Role of the Chief HR Officer (CHRO)

Presented at the 2023 Virtual ACSG Conference

on 17 March 2023 from 10:15 - 11:00


The COVID pandemic focused the collective attention of Chief HR Officers (CHROs) and various organisational stakeholders on how their contexts, organisations, and the world of work are evolving. This includes how work and the roles within the organisation are evolving.

The role of the CHRO itself is not exempt from this. Thus, the question posed is how the role of CHROs has evolved and continues to evolve. The categories in surveys and the observations in reports on CHROs suggest there is not one singular role. The CHRO seems to comprise multifaceted roles. They confront various demands from the multifaceted stakeholder and operating spaces they navigate and negotiate as well as from the strategy, operations, and the culture and politics of the organisation. To understand the evolving CHRO role in a more systemic way it may be helpful to explore the CHRO roles at the Board, EXCO, and the HR function levels. This includes identifying the factors influencing the CHRO relationship with the executive. Differentiating the roles in terms of the mentioned levels can help identify the competencies or capabilities required for these different roles.


There are three approaches that one can identify from the surveyed advisories and reports on CHROs: relevance ranking of individual competencies in a universal list of competencies; competencies identified and linked to a model of CHRO roles; and competencies identified and linked to professional standards.


Ajay Jivan, PhD, leads the thought leadership and research at the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) and is responsible for the professional body’s quality assurance functions. He authors the SABPP’s monthly Fact Sheets. He served on the Ministerial Task Team on Professionalisation of the Public Service. Prior to this he held positions in talent assessment and development. He is a registered Psychologist with a Masters in Psychology and Masters in Management. He completed his PhD at Wits Business School. He has published two journal articles based on his PhD: “Pedagogic and learning spaces of leadership development: A sectoral case study” and “A case study of the evolving management of leadership development.”

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