Challenging year ahead for CIPD leader-in-waiting

Now that Jackie Orme has been thrust into the HR spotlight as the new chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), her every move will be scrutinised by the rest of the HR profession – and that’s even before she joins the organisation next April.

Industry commentators have been quick to offer their views as to her suitability for the role, and whether she has the right skills and profile to deliver (see page 1). Some have applauded the fact that she is an HR person through and through, and therefore has an innate understanding of what challenges the profession faces. Others anticipated a CIPD leader with some experience in an operational role or a more overt business background.

Many senior practitioners believe the CIPD needs to engage more fully with business leaders if, as the CIPD states, Orme is to “lead the profession into the future”.

Yes, her role will be about promoting best practice, producing innovative research, and being the voice of the profession. But HR also needs to be equipped with the skills and the insight to meet the ever-increasing demands of business.

Perhaps our survey of jobseekers – carried out among people actively looking for a job through Totaljobs.com – will highlight some of the challenges Orme and the CIPD face “into the future”.

The perception of HR held by the jobseeking public is that the sector still has an image problem, that HR people aren’t generally seen as go-getters, that the job itself is still more administrative than strategic, and that there needs to be more recognition of the value HR adds to an organisation.

Those considering a career in HR say that “working with people” appeals to them. Those currently not considering HR want evidence that HR can and does play more of an active role in business.

How Orme moves the CIPD forward will depend on whether she wants to preach to the converted, or to convert those yet to be convinced.

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