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Earn it, show it, own it – HR’s Role as a Business Partner

Marilyn Kronenberg

Marilyn Kronenberg

Global Head of R&D, Clinical Science, Organisation and Data and Digital Science at Sanofi

HR’s role as a business partner with Sanofi’s Global Head of R&D – Clinical Science, Organisation and Data and Digital Science.

It shouldn’t be news that we are currently living through tumultuous times. Consequently, organisations are having to majorly rethink their operating models both internally and externally. In this article, Marilyn Kronenberg, Global Head of R&D, Clinical Science, Organisation and Data and Digital Science, Sanofi, discusses what successful HR business partnership looks like, and its role in facilitating change across organisations.  

What does successful HR business partnership look like?  

Marilyn began by defining successful HR business partnering as a “strategic and key role in any organisation”, entailing “leading and defining an HR strategy that supports the business”. She went on to state that HR must implement the strategies devised with senior management and “deliver on those business strategic goals”, with the ultimate aim of “developing the leaders of today for that tomorrow”. Marilyn proceeded to outline HR’s functions as a coach, an agile problem solver and ensuring great employee experience. She emphasised the importance of these skills in establishing effective HR business partnerships.  

How can HR earn its “seat at the table”?  

Marilyn provocatively stated that if HR don’t have a seat at the table as a business partner, HR needs to ask itself “why not”. First and foremost, Marilyn emphasised the importance of earning HR competencies to really add value to discussion. HR leaders must then “actively contribute”, showcasing the value of HR competencies in strategic discussions. She continued by stating that becoming a business partner requires courage and “the need to be hungry for knowledge”. By digging into the analytics and broader industry trends, Marilyn highlighted that HR can position themselves as the “strategic folks in the organisation that provide insights, feed the strategy and develop the organisation further”. 

What is HR’s role in within change across organisations? 

Marilyn shared her perspective that “leading change isn’t just an HR thing”, and that “leaders need to empower themselves” when it comes to instigating change. “Waiting for somebody to tell you what to do… is back to the notion of order taking” stated Marilyn. She also identified HR’s unique position for “enabling change” due to the “core capabilities and competences” associated with the role. This drives home the importance of changes developing organically across different components of organisations, and HR’s leading role at implementing these changes more effectively than other organisational functions. Through this identification, Marilyn implicitly reasserted the importance of HR business partnership. 

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