Boyden Executive Search

How technology is changing the role of CHROs and senior HR executives.

Global Practice Group Leader Message


Robert Winterhalter, Ph.D.

Global Leader, Human Resources Practice
Managing Partner, Boyden Germany

Countless companies, of all sizes and across all industries, are undergoing major transformations to manage new demands and prepare for the future. Organizations that do not keep up will become less relevant or wield less influence, in turn losing their ability to both retain and attract talent.

In order to survive and prosper amid the changes brought on by new technology and shifting perceptions surrounding the workforce, companies need to evolve their approaches to the board and management, strategy, utilization of technology, and global workforce alignment, training and hiring.

Organizations in consumer/retail, energy and mining, industrial, financial services, healthcare & life sciences, and technology need to focus leadership and the greater global team on the evolution of the modern company. A key driver of these transformations is often the Chief Human Resources Officer or senior HR executives, who are increasingly becoming part of the C-Suite and members of the board. While their positions and influence differ related to various regional and organizational factors, these executives all have a crucial role to play.

Therefore, in developing our second annual Boyden Senior Executive Survey with our partners, clients and industry colleagues, we agreed to focus on the views of CHROs, who often serve as the most important change agents steering management and global teams. Some of the survey results may surprise you.

We surveyed a global panel of 310 CHROs, senior HR executives and other HR decision makers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, the United Kingdom and United States. Guided by key changes companies will face in the coming years, our findings will be released in three parts: Impact of AI and Technology; The CHRO Role in the C-Suite & Board; and Diversity and People and Thought.

It’s important to note that while the survey data include only HR leadership, the commentators who provided analysis of our findings included a wide swath of executives including chairmen, non-executive board members, chief marketing officers, chief digital officers, country managers and others.

The findings discussed here, in Part 1, immediately reflect the transformative power of technology – 94% of global executives believe the rise of technology and AI will alter the HR function, and nearly 40% expect drastic changes with even greater tech influence.

My view is that AI is both overestimated and underestimated. At first glance, AI is just a tool for faster learning and operational excellence. Good HR leaders and other senior executives will both leverage it to improve operational efficiency and speed of transformation, and to affirm trust and respect from operational lines of management. In reviewing our data, a German CHRO went further, adding that “AI and HR analytics are strongly underestimated by companies. The big initiatives such as HR strategy, organizational development and transformation, which all often involve AI, can only be solved by a strong CHRO or HR function.”

We offer our many thanks to our panel of executives who contributed insight for Part I of this report, including Gerhard Bohne, Karen Brandenburg Viera, Carolyn Isaacs, Poliana Lanari, Eduardo Marques, Anna Mitchell, Dr. Michael Pütz, and Karen Wefelmeyer.

There are no simple answers to complex challenges. We hope this report provides useful insights for management teams as they carefully map the future and align their global teams for the next stage of success.

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