Top HR Influencers to Watch in 2018

By Bernhard Mehl
May 17, 2018
Top HR Influencers to Watch in 2018

When it comes to building a successful company, the people are what matter. It’s the talent that sits behind the scenes that makes an organization, and no one knows this better than the human resources (HR) leaders that are put in place to find, nurture, and manage them.

The HR professionals driving innovation in people management are the ones behind the scenes at some of the most successful startups. These top HR influencers are managing and researching all things people, including everything from wider company culture campaigns, to managing the onboarding and offboarding of every employee.

We’re profiling the top HR influencers for you to get to know in 2018 -- these are the ones who have figured it out how to balance all of their responsibilities while still keeping teams happy, innovative, and outfitted with all the technology and resources needed to keep an organization successful.

We've broken down the influencers into four categories:

  • Startup HR
  • HR Originals
  • Rising HR Leaders
  • HR Gamechangers

Read on to learn more about the talented group of thought leaders that are behind the future of HR!

Startup HR

Kris Franco, Director of Human Resources, 23andMe

23andMe is a genetic service that provides reports for customers regarding their genetic makeup and DNA. What are the chances your child will be born with a disability? Where exactly does your DNA originate? To what age are you likely to live? 23andMe can answer all of these questions - they’re housing some of the smartest scientists out there.

Kris Franco heads up the HR department as Director of HR in this rapidly growing and upcoming startup. Their lab is CLIA certified, meaning they must meet a certain standard in genetic testing, and their talent must be capable of meeting this standard.

Franco has been in the HR space since 1993, heading up HR initiatives and managing teams of recruiters and HR coordinators. For the past five years, she’s been responsible for growing and nurturing the top talent at 23andMe - which is important for a company leading the genetics testing.

Look to her for insights in hiring top genetics and testing professionals in a talent pool that is notoriously small and hard to find. Not only can she find them, but she can keep them, nurture them, and support them in propelling this controversial startup forwards.

Connect with Kris: LinkedIn

Lucy Babbage, VP of People, Betterment

Betterment is the largest independent robo-advisor, helping people to better manage, protect, and grow their wealth through smarter technology. Achieving a smarter financial future with minimal effort and for a fraction of the cost of traditional financial services is possible thanks to the forward-thinking team and technology at Betterment.

Lucy Babbage is their Director of People, and is responsible for driving the company culture and recruitment practices to help grow the organization's over 155,000 customers and $4.3 billion in assets under management.

As a member of Betterment’s senior management team, Babbage has high stakes in the business, and greatly affects how the people, culture, and trends shape this up-and-coming organization. She’s gathering some of the industry's best talent that is changing the way the world thinks retirement planning, building wealth, and other savings goals.

Connect with Lucy: LinkedIn

Katie Childers, VP of People, Harry’s Grooming

Harry’s Grooming is a startup that has accomplished manufacturing razors at a cheaper price, so shaving finally doesn’t have to be so expensive. They’re tackling the one problem everyone who’s ever been to purchase a razor knows - the inevitable sigh at the checkout counter when the price appears on the register. The problem is one of expensive manufacturing, and it takes some of top talent in manufacturing and production to fix - also one of the hardest to recruit for.

Katie Childers is VP of People, and is responsible for heading up the people team that makes shaving so great.

She’s been a part of the business world for a long time, and knows how to make businesses great. She’s the perfect type of HR person, having the business experience to keep those goals in mind when managing the organization’s people. She’s been with Harry’s Grooming for nine months, and on top of everything else, runs her own yoga studio, East Yoga.

Connect with Katie: LinkedIn

Laurie Skurow, Human Resources Manager, Industrious

Industrious wants to make it easier for you to find yourself an office space. They personalize your real estate experience, which is a big deal in some cities like Raleigh, Cleveland, and others that don’t already easy access to an extensive network of office spaces for professionals.

A rapidly expanding service, now in most major cities, the people at Industrious have to be all hands on deck and ready for anything at any time. Laurie Skurow is their human resources manager, and is responsible for making the magic happen with the right people in the office.

Skurow understands what it takes to make a business grow, with a background in corporate expansion and business management.

Connect with Laurie: LinkedIn

HR Originals

Gerry Crispin, Co-Founder, CareerXroads

Gerry Crispin is a renowned thought leader throughout the talent acquisition and human resources industries. A regular contributor to many HR and talent acquisition websites and blogs, Crispin has been very successful at encouraging and optimizing conversations for those looking to learn, grow, and refine their recruiting skillset.

As the principal and co-founder of CareerXroads, Crispin has been critical in revolutionizing the recruiting industry in areas such as: technology and data in employer and candidate decisions, improving business results with recruiting, organizational strategy for talent management, making data-driven decisions as a recruiting leader.

For many years, Crispin has helped move the recruiting industry forward, and his impact on the industry is sure to be felt for many, many years to come.

Connect with Gerry: LinkedIn | Twitter

William Tincup, President,

william tincup

“I’m busy building maps of the intersection of HR and technology.” - William Tincup

The quote about says it all: William Tincup is passionate about the impact of technology and HR. Fortunately for us, he has spent many years doing a great job sharing his questions, findings, and opinions on technology in HR.

Whether it’s in notable HR publications like Fistful of Talent or HRExaminer, or on social media, Tincup has a wealth of knowledge to share with the world, as his insights have helped transform the way we view HR and technology.

He’s always tweeting great HR tech articles from his Twitter account, so be sure to follow him there!

Connect with William: LinkedIn | Twitter

Oleg Vishnepolsky, Global CTO, Daily Mail - MailOnline

oleg Vishnepolsk

Name: Oleg Vishnepolsky

Company: Daily Mail

Location: United Kingdom

Social media: TwitterLinkedIn

Why did the CTO of a large publishing company made our list of top HR influencers? Because HR does not only affect those directly working in the field but really anyone who takes care of recruiting and people's management, which is more or less everyone with a leadership or managerial position. Oleg belongs to the category of people that managed to build a large audience by sharing insightful thoughts on all things HR, more often than not based on his personal experiences.

Lou Adler, CEO, The Adler Group

Lou Adler has nearly 1 million followers on LinkedIn as an Influencer. He’s one of the most well-known HR and talent acquisition thought leaders, and he’s had a dynamic impact on the industry as a whole over the past 30+ years.

As CEO of the consulting and training firm The Adler Group, Adler helps companies implement the Performance-Based Hiring System for finding and hiring exceptional talent. His client list is impressive (Disney, LinkedIn, and Intel, just to name a few), and he’s the go-to expert for innovative sourcing and recruitment strategy development.

Adler regularly publishes original articles on LinkedIn, covering everything from recruiting trends, to quality of hire, to HR leadership.

Connect with Lou: LinkedIn | Twitter

Jeff Haden, Owner, BlackBird Media

Jeff Haden is a LinkedIn Influencer with over 850,000 followers. His LinkedIn posts on leadership, career advice, and talent management have been read by over 20 million people (quite an impressive number!).

Haden is also a contributing writer to Inc. Magazine, where his articles have been read by over 25 million people.

Most impressively, however, is that Haden has ghostwritten over 50 books, five of which have been number one on Amazon’s Business and Investing bestseller list.

As one of the most active writers in the HR space, it’s highly recommended that you follow Haden on Twitter to see all his recent posts!

Connect with Jeff: LinkedIn | Twitter

Liz Ryan, Founder and CEO, Human Workplace

Another LinkedIn Influencer on our list, Liz Ryan has nearly 1 million followers on the social platform. She regularly publishes tips, tricks, and insights on humanizing the workplace, and each post is accompanied by her own illustration (such a wonderful addition - don’t miss it!).

As CEO of Human Workplace, Ryan helps organizations re-launch their cultures to meet the challenges of the modern workplace. According to Ryan, “Human Workplace is also a global movement to rehumanize work, with over 450,000 members.”

A regular contributor to TIME, Businessweek, Harvard Business Review, and more, Ryan is a thought leader that has cultivated engaging conversations and industry-wide change on how we view the workplace and the humans who work within it.

Connect with Liz: LinkedIn | Twitter

Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder, Bersin by Deloitte

An HR influencers list wouldn’t be complete with Josh Bersin; he’s undisputably one of the most well-known HR thought leaders that has helped transform the industry for over 10 years.

His company, Bersin by Deloitte, is “the leading provider of research-based information, benchmarking, professional development, and advisory consulting services for strategic HR, talent management, leadership development, recruiting, and training organizations.”

If you’re looking to benchmark your organization’s HR performance, chances are you’ve taken a look at Bersin’s research.

A published author and regular contributor to Forbes, Bersin’s expertise has helped shape the trends and growth of the HR industry, especially as the industry makes a shift to implementing technology to enable streamlined operations.

Connect with Josh: LinkedIn | Twitter

Jim Harter, Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being, Gallup

As Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being for Galup's workplace management practice, Jim Harter has authored more than 1,000 research studies on employee engagement and talent. His work has been published in most major publications, including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.

A frequent speaker on the science of the workplace, Harter is best known for his annual study analyzing the relationship between work-unit employee engagement and performance outcomes, such as profitability, productivity, turnover, customer engagement, and more.

When it comes to all things employee engagement, Harter is the go-to expert. In addition to everything he's accomplished, Harter has two New York Times bestseller books, 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. Wow!

Connect with Jim: LinkedIn | Twitter

Lauren McDonald, President & CEO, Intuition Co-op

lauren mcdonald

Name: Lauren McDonald

Company: Intuition Co-op

Location: New York City

Social media: LinkedIn

With over 20 years of experience in the recruiting industry, Lauren has facilitated recruiting for some of America's top employers, including Nike, Google and Microsoft, just to name a few. Over the last year she han been quickly gaining popularity on LinkedIn and her motto for which "job seekers have more power than HR" is making waves on platform, where she now counts more than 60k followers. Her commitment to help job seekers and improve the recruiting industry as a whole brought her to take her message offline too, with some dedicated events taking place the New York City area. Kudos to Lauren!

Rising HR Leaders

Meghan Biro, CEO and Founder, TalentCulture

Meghan Biro is a renowned talent management and HR technology brand strategist who can be found consulting for some of the world’s top brands through TalentCulture, writing for publications like Forbes and Huffington Post, and speaking at industry conferences throughout the globe.

Biro is the host of TalentCulture’s live radio podcast, in which she discusses trends and tips with other thought leaders from throughout the talent industry. She also is the host of the #WorkTrends Twitter chat, a very popular discussion forum for all types of individuals interested in leadership, social business, talent management, and more.

In addition to engaging social content, Biro also pens insightful articles on the TalentCulture blog, covering workplace culture and innovation, career strategy, HR technology, leadership, and more. A true leader herself, Biro has proven that her passion for talent management can help change organizations for the better.

Connect with Meghan: LinkedIn | Twitter

Shawn Murphy, CEO and Founder, WorqIQ

Shawn Murphy’s passion is all about what makes human resources actually human. Murphy has established himself as the go-to thought leader for businesses looking to focus on human-centered practices and leadership.

Author of the book The Optimistic Workplace, Murphy explores the power behind optimistic employees and a positive work environment, and the measurable results that come from them.

Today, it seems like you can’t go too far without hearing about the power and value of company culture. With his organization, WorqIQ, Murphy has a proven track record helping companies understand their current culture and develop strategies to move towards one that optimizes profitability.

Murphy is very active on social media, too, so be sure to check him out there.

Connect with Shawn: LinkedIn | Twitter

David Hassell, Founder and CEO, 15Five

David Hassell is the founder and CEO of 15Five, an employee engagement software designed to get actionable insights that organizations need to be effective and build great teams.

Hassell is changing the talent game by putting employer-employee communication at the forefront of the conversations about success, profitability, and engagement of teams. Instead of monthly, quarterly, or even yearly reviews, managers and leadership have the ability to see the insights from their teams in real-time.

Connect with David: LinkedIn | Twitter

Ben Peterson, Co-founder and CEO, BambooHR

Sometimes being a leader isn’t about being the most active on social media, writing the most articles for online publications, or even speaking at the most conferences. Sometimes being a leader can be simply designing a great product that causes change to ripple throughout an entire industry.

With BambooHR, this is exactly what Ben Peterson has done.

BambooHR makes it clear that their first mission is to help companies succeed with great HR software. By focusing on small to medium businesses (often the companies who need HR software the most), Peterson’s team has been able to make the lives easier for their impressive list of clients. By streamlining HR operations, BambooHR gives their clients back the precious time they need to focus on helping their organizations grow.

Connect with Ben: LinkedIn | Twitter

Heather Huhman, Founder and President, Come Recommended

Specializing in career management, job searching, HR, and recruiting, Heather Huhman’s expertise comes from the combination of public relations and marketing experience, plus being in “nearly every employment-related situation imaginable.”

The author of seven books, Huhman is a widely recognized thought leader in the HR technology space. Her agency, Come Recommended, specializes in content marketing and digital PR for job search and HR technologies.

Huhman regularly shares her expertise in Gen-Y and entry-level career matters in posts on websites such as Forbes, Mashable, and more.

Connect with Heather: LinkedIn | Twitter

Suzanne Lucas, Writer, Evil HR Lady

Suzanne Lucas is the HR expert helping us understand why HR people have to do what they have to; in other words, she brings a transparency to the role that has usually been hard to understand.

Her website, Evil HR Lady, is the go-to resource for answering reader-generated questions about all things HR. Her posts are interesting, witty, and full of great advice. Lucas has also created a very engaged audience, as seen in the comments section of most of her posts.

In addition to writing about HR on her website, Lucas also writes for CBS MoneyWatch,,, and more. Her Twitter feed is a steady stream of awesome HR content, so be sure to follow her there!

Connect with Suzanne: LinkedIn | Twitter

HR Gamechangers

Ester Martinez, CEO & Editor-in Chief, People Matters

Ester Martinez is in charge of India’s leading magazine in the human resources space. People Matters is also, “a 360 degree media platform for the HR community that aims to foster the amalgamation of new ideas between HR leaders, HR service providers, and CXOs, leading to growth and development of their most important asset -- people.”

Covering information, best practices, trends, and industry news, People Matters is a multi-faceted organization, producing relevant content both in print and online, and hosting thought leadership events with some of the biggest names from the industry.

Martinez has done a fantastic job of fostering an engaging community, growing the awareness of trends within the HR community, and developing a digital platform with content that transcends continents.

Connect with Ester: LinkedIn | Twitter

Bryan Chaney, Director of Global Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition,

One glance at Bryan Chaney’s “Publications” section of his LinkedIn page and it’s clear to see why he’s made this list. An expert in employer branding (one of the hottest topics in recruiting and HR today) and attracting top talent (probably the most important topic for organizations always), Chaney has contributed forward-thinking and insightful articles to some of the top HR publications.

Today, Chaney is the Director of Employer Brand and Talent Acquisition at Indeed where he helps “Indeedians tell their story of how [they] help people get jobs.” He’s also an active speaker on both talent acquisition and social media marketing strategies.

Speaking of social media, you definitely will want to follow Chaney on Twitter - he serves up some of the best tweets focused on HR, TA, employer branding, and more.

Connect with Bryan: LinkedIn | Twitter

Brigette Hyacinth, Founder and Director, MBA Carribean Organisation

brigette Hyacinth

Name: Brigette Hyacinth

Company: MBA Caribbean Organisation

Location: Trinidad and Tobago


Social media: TwitterLinkedIn

You may know Brigette as the "the second most connected woman on LinkedIn" (until LinkedIn set a maximum limit of 30,000 connections) but Brigette is much more than that. Author, speaker, and founder of the MBA Caribbean Organisation - which organizes seminar and consultancies on topics such as leadership and education. Brigette has already crossed half a million followers thanks to some of the most interesting and motivational stories about recruiting and human resources management. Strong believer that the human factor must be valued in the era of AI and automation, we're sure we'll definitely hear more of her in 2018.

Johnny Campbell, CEO, Social Talent

johnny campbell hr influencer

Name: Johnny Campbell

Company: SocialTalent

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Social media: TwitterLinkedIn

In 2010 Johnny founded SocialTalent with the idea of building a software that would make HR management more data-driven. From Tesla to Oracle, his company counts today hundred of customers and its blog is one of the most followed in the industry, with an estimate of 100,000 readers per week. As a keynote speaker Johnny is particularly active in the industry and never fails to share interesting insights on the recruiting world. We can definitely expect to read more and more about him in 2018!

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George Larocque, Founder and Principal Analyst, HRWins

George Larocque Top HR Influencer 2016

George Larocque is one of the globe’s top influencers and thought leaders in the world of B2B HR and workplace technology. Marrying a background in sales, marketing, and HR, Larocque has a proven track record leading B2B HR tech brands to profitability and/or funding.

Larocque is also the founder of InfluenceHR, a conference focused on creating meaningful conversation for HR technology marketers aimed at understanding the state of the industry, the target markets within it, and the trends of the future.

If you’re a fan of insightful and forward-thinking HR technology articles, #hrwins is another undertaking of Larocque you should definitely check out!

Connect with George: LinkedIn | Twitter

Jeanne Meister, Partner, Future Workplace

Jeanne Meister Top HR Influencer 2016

Jeanne Meister is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur dedicated to re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace and workforce of the future.

Her most recent book, “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today,” is already in its 13th printing. Meister is an expert on how digital technologies (especially social media) have changed the sourcing, recruiting, and retainment landscape within organizations.

A true thought leader, Meister has been recognized time and time again for her forward-thinking and actionable strategies for the modern workplace.

Connect with Jeanne: LinkedIn | Twitter

Lee Burbage, Chief People Officer, The Motley Fool

Lee Burbage Top HR Influencer 2016

The Motley Fool has been rated the #1 Place to Work in America by Glassdoor, and has consistently made the Best Places to Work list year after year. As Chief People Officer, Lee Burbage has been critical to the success and recognition of the culture at The Motley Fool.

Some of his notable accomplishments include:

  • Developing recruiting and development programs that lead to <2% unwanted turnover
  • Launched an internal university
  • Transformed company culture from email-based to social communication-based.

Burbage’s passion for organizational development and rise to Chief People Officer is quite inspiring, and his efforts have resulted in real, measurable business results for The Motley Fool.

Connect with Lee: LinkedIn | Twitter

Steve Boese, Co-Chair, HR Technology Conference

Steve Boese Top HR Influencer 2016

Steve Boese has done it all: he’s a writer, author, speaker, teacher, and implementer of all things HR. An expert in HR technology, management, leadership, and recruiting, Boese currently holds the title of Co-Chair for the HR Technology Conference.

Boese also hosts the weekly podcast HR Happy Hour (the leading information and entertainment show focused on HR, management, leadership, and the workforce) and posts regularly on his personal HR technology blog.

He’s also very active on social media, where he shares a lot of his great insights and has over 35,000 followers.

Connect with Steve: LinkedIn | Twitter

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Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.