Forbes Human Resources Council members are the leading HR directors and executives from companies across all industries. As experts in leadership and management, they know the key components of running a successful organization and building strong communities from the ground up. To help you learn from them, we’re profiling Forbes Human Resources Council members here on the blog. This week: Maria Goldsholl.

Maria Goldsholl is chief people officer at PokitDokwhich provides a software development platform for the healthcare industry and powers DokChain, or blockchain for healthcare. With more than 20 years of experience in organizational development, recruitment and culture management, Maria is also the former COO of staffing company Mom Corps, which made Inc.500’s list of fastest growing companies.

How did your career as a human resources executive take off, and what do you attribute your success to most?

I was recruited into the world of consulting out of graduate school. It gave me a broad set of experiences. That’s where I discovered that my background in psychology, business, and organizational behavior was most applicable to HR.

Early in my career, I was tasked with building an HR function from the ground up. I’ve done that ever since, as an intrapreneur at Turner and Weather Channel and an entrepreneur at Mom Corps and The Right Brain Group. I was always interested in building.

Sometimes, HR gets in the way of business if it’s too focused on policies, procedures and updating the employee handbook. My initial goal is to understand the business and see how HR can enable it. Business orientation is what allows HR professionals to make a strong impact.

HR execs have to wear many hats to ensure the internal operations of their organization are well taken care of. How do you balance the juggling of many roles (i.e. recruitment, onboarding, benefits, performance management)?

I am fortunate to have both an HR and operations background. After understanding the demands of the business, it’s about building philosophies around the way you want to run your company and creating a vision that you want to begin working toward. With that groundwork in place, it is all about prioritizing.

After PokitDok raised venture capital to accelerate its technology business in healthcare, I didn’t focus on anything other than defining who we wanted to be and recruiting smart people who represented our culture. Now we have a doubled headcount.

The healthcare and technology sectors are growing faster than most industries, and recruiting creatively gives us a way to scale quickly and nimbly. I believe in harnessing talent through the “sharing economy.” We have achieved a competitive advantage tapping talent we couldn’t normally afford in the early stages through the use of interim executives. Some of our advisors and consulting executives have either expanded their footprint with PokitDok or even moved to full-time roles, like me.

What do you see as the future of the HR industry?

Beyond looking at how innovation will change the employment landscape, it is important to consider the labor market and how to prepare for that influence.

The Brookings Institution estimated that 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of millennials in 2025. This is a generation that grew up with the internet and is the largest working demographic in this country. Millennials are also more culturally diverse than any preceding generation.

Establishing business practices, philosophies and new technology that are inspired by millennials are ushering in massive changes. Digital, visual, instant and transparent employee communications are taking place and will become pervasive. You have to know the labor market and authentically speak to it as a business.

We’re also thinking about Generation Z and getting acquainted with this demographic in the workplace through internships. We’re even thinking about parents who took a break and want to return to the workforce.

It may be hard for linear thinkers or those who find comfort in established process, but you have to think about the future before the business gets there.

What is your best HR leadership or strategy tip for businesses?

The best advice I can give is to be curious, learn about the business and become a trusted advisor. A smart, business-minded HR professional can become a CEO’s best resource. Often, being a leader is a very lonely and pressure-filled place. I am always very honest with the leaders I support. I like to provide a safe place for the executives I work with to discuss challenges, fears and work out issues. Over time, you become an integral part of the fabric of the leadership team and a trusted advisor.


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