Chief culture, data or digital officers: who is most welcome at the HR table?

2 minute read

Research by executive search firm Leathwaite finds chief culture officer, chief HR digital officer and chief HR data officer to be the most likely HR leadership team members of the future. ThePeopleSpace asks members of its PeopleSpaceLeaders network for their views


Tea Colaianni

“The most prominent HR role in the not too distant future is going to be the HR chief data officer. In a world where we all leave a digital footprint and where AI techniques and algorithms can predict when an employee is going to resign, when their performance is going to falter and when they are going to ask for a salary increase or a promotion, managing an ever-increasing amount of employees data is crucial to the success of any company. I actually predict that companies without such a role will not survive in an environment where data has become the world's most valuable resource”  

Tea Colaianni, non executive director, various private and public sector organisations

David Frost Total Produce

“I can see the HR director role diminishing over the coming years and being replaced with a clear strategic role called something like chief people and talent officer (CPTO), people and organisational development director or people and talent director. This role will have overall responsibility for leading the development of culture in partnership with the CEO, together with the provision of people related insight. The CPTO will need access to expertise in relation to data gathering and development of useful insight (to help drive performance and capability). I can see the CPTO also taking responsibility for digital strategy as it relates to people and culture and once again specific expertise will be required”

David Frost, organisational development director, Total Produce

Adil Malia, CEO The Firm

“Every enterprise has its unique, life-giving behavioural processes that align it with the peculiar demands of its stakeholders and which drive its value creation journey. This is what I would like to call the ‘culture’ of the enterprise. In fast changing times, this alignment constantly tends to get imbalanced. Organisations do not re-set themselves and therefore most organisations collapse in changed environments – their set processes being out of step and, at times, in a state of conflict with the new stakeholder demands. Culture has to be fluid, flexible and facilitative. Rigid cultures are sure bets for corporate breakdown. I therefore believe the chief culture officer is the only sustainable, market-facing, value creating, differentiated role that will re-set and facilitate the adaptation speed of the enterprise culture with the superfast speed of the dynamic environment in which it has to operate”

Adil Malia, CEO, The Firm and former president of HR at Essar Group 

Martin Tiplady, CEO Chameleon People Solutions

“The need for culture change in organisations – whether it be about efficiency, quality leadership, talent, diversity or employment standards – is, for me, the issue that should be dominating HR space. But I suspect it will not. Rather I think data will dominate the time and effort. Partly because it is less opaque and vague and partly because it has more immediate regulation and law behind it. Many will fudge it of course”

Martin Tiplady, CEO of Chameleon People Solutions and former HR director of public and private enterprises


PeopleSpaceLeaders is the membership network arm of ThePeopleSpace. For more information please go to
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