We work with a lot of CEOs, COOs and Department Heads AND with a lot of great HR/P&C/EEx execs and professionals.

As a result, we’re often asked “what are they looking for in great HR?

Reflecting on the year that was, here are our thoughts on the Big 5:

1. The profession is finally getting diverse.

It’s only a few years ago that 8 of the top 10 ASX companies had accountants in their HRD roles – the last 2 had lawyers.

Nothing wrong with accountants, of course, or lawyers, for that matter, but how do we solve/resolve/design better ways of working and understand the complex human systems that are culture and work, purely looking from those two dimensions of Financial Management and Law.

What we’re seeing:

Much more diverse HR exec teams, with a heavy bent towards Psychology and the other social sciences such a politics, economics and communication.

Now the top HR team may well have an accountant for the Rem role, and a lawyer handling IR, but they increasingly have a Psychologist with process design skills in Talent and OD, a big dose of process skills in the Talent Acquisition space, and a HR/Employee Experience expert who’s good with tech, running tech and data.

The tech side of the profession is not just a tech guy, who hired a psychologist to ‘make tech more human’ as they ‘scaled’. Instead,  it’s a deep expert in people, who’s hired a tech person to make sure the UX is just right.

It would appear that we’re finally appreciating a deep understanding of people.

Of course, HR has a long way to go to be more diverse in the broader sense (culturally diverse at the top of the tree is still a huge challenge) but at least we’re forming up as a profession with deep expertise in all aspects of people.

What it means to you:

If you’re studying in this field, your time has finally arrived, and frankly, there’s a lot of people waiting for you.

2. Everything is integrating

This confirms what we always thought about ‘orphaned processes’ that linked to nothing. “Best practice recruitment”,  “best practice development” and “best practice performance” are pretty useless,  unless they talk to each other.

Integrated processes. Connected experience. Integrated systems.

And probably open systems, that talk to each other and operate together.

Three years ago, when we launched mwah. with HR architecture that was integrated and talking to each other, we felt a little lonely. Time has proven we were on the right track. We may have been ahead of our time three years ago, but we’re so ‘at the right time’ right now.

What it means to you:

Understand (human) process engineering. Understand tech and understand how it fits together. How data talks to other data. Not just the technology, but how to make sense of a hundred data points to inform understanding and tell a story.

3. Bite-sized learning

When we started gamifying learning, we knew the days of ‘all day modules’, and three full-day workshops were waxing and waning, and would eventually go the way of the DoDo – great fun but not long for this world.

It’s just happened much faster than planned.

Today, most learning is bite-sized. (Just as most processes and core experiences are too).

Not a gazillion online courses that no one can navigate, or is interested in navigating, but short sharp, relevant-when-I-need-it, and connected-to-my-cohort workshops that are focused, measurable and useable within a day of happening.

What it means to you:

Understand how people learn, and how to design learning that creates interest, cut-through and energy around the practical application of ideas and skills. If the new learning is useful, people will jump to use it immediately.

4. Do Something

It feels odd to write this down, and we don’t mean to be offensive, but this is THE topic that comes up over and over with Boards and Exec teams.

“We’ve had a HR team for xyz years, and nothing happens. Lots of drafts, nothing into action and no measurable impact”.

So, we have to call it out.

‘People’ and ‘Culture’ aren’t always perfectly precise sciences, but they are ‘doable’ and they are measurable.

If you’re in a HR role – pick a priority, design an idea, and get it off the page and into action. Even if you get it wrong, and have to rejig in an agile sortof way, you’ll still be moving forward. Even the lessons from small failures will inform better ways, whereas drafting and redrafting for years, will never have an impact.

What it means to you:

Do something.

Doing something great, would be even better. Organisations need us to find better ways forward.
When we’re asked what CEOs and Execs love about the best in HR, its always “they get things done!”.

5. Love what you do

This one comes from all the people we work with who love this work and do it really really well. They love all aspects of this profession. It’s not a chore. It’s a privilege. The people, the complexity, the data, the possibilities, and the great big gaps between the design of work today and the design of where it could be.

What does it mean for you:

Love what you/we do, or do something else. There’s much too much to be done to have someone doing it who doesn’t have a burning desire to get it much more right.


There are lots of changes in the People profession, just as there are across all professions. Some areas, like AI, are discussed all the time, in every forum, so we left that aside for our list.
These five, noted above, would be our call as to what the best CEOs, Leaders and organisations are constantly seeking (and finding) in the best of the profession right now.

We’d love your thoughts.