2020 may have taught us that our plans can be upended in the blink of an eye. Yet, we can still choose the content we consume, the voices we listen to, and the directions in which we want to grow. For leaders and HR & people ops enthusiasts, this can significantly influence how they support their people’s growth.
Exploring different perspectives may seem easy, since almost anyone can share their opinions with the world, but we face the opposite effect. There’s more content out there than we can consume, and the multitude of voices makes it harder to choose the ones you’ll follow attentively.
The good news is that we’ve got you covered in 2021 (and in the years to come). We’ve created a list of 21 people ops & HR influencers to follow in 2021 to help you expand your knowledge, stay current on industry trends, and navigate changes towards the (new) future of work.
Our list results from direct input from people ops & HR experts and keeping track of the content produced by hundreds of professionals over the past several years. We wanted to ensure that all chosen influencers are somehow involved in the day-to-day reality of HR & people operations. They are practitioners, consultants, and topic authorities.
HR & people ops are our passions here at Leapsome. Curating content for our readers is a great pleasure — here on the blog, on our social channels, and via the People Over Perks newsletter, Slack community, and podcast.
You may find familiar influencers and a few more “niche” specialists on the list. All these experts are worth following, but of course, the choice is yours. We’ll tell you what you need to know before hitting the “follow” button.
Top 21 People Ops & HR influencers to follow in 2021
In alphabetical order:
Ben Eubanks is an HR analyst, author, and podcaster, working as Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory — a human capital management analysis company.
Ben’s experience encompasses recruiting, benefits, training, employee relations, and executive coaching in various company models (including nonprofit and small organizations).
Ben is the co-founder of industry event HRevolution, runs a blog and podcast, and works in HR certification development.
Claude Silver has had the very special role of Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia since 2014. Claude is a self-defined “emotional optimist, coach, manager, and mentor.”
The Chief Heart Officer believes that part of the role is to hold space for employees and help them find answers. Claude shares content on having courageous conversations at work, showing appreciation, empowering your team, and leading from the heart.
“My role is to infuse the agency with empathy. It’s my purpose. Culture is a texture. It’s a vibe. A feel. And culture is alive. It’s definitely not one or two-dimensional — I think culture is very three-dimensional. Culture is, in a nutshell, the heartbeat for me.”
Eventbrite’s Chief Human Resources Officer, David Hanrahan, has worked as an HR leader in companies like Zendesk, Twitter, Shell, and Electronic Arts for the past two decades.
His experience includes hypergrowth hiring, job architecture, rewards strategy and execution, engagement analysis and action, and attrition reduction.
David believes in fostering a collaborative team culture and “building strong HR teams and innovative talent practices in rapid environments.” On social media, the expert talks about mental health, leadership, benefits, and the future of work.
A keynote speaker and best-selling author, Jacob Morgan is the founder of Future of Work University. He focuses on the areas of leadership, employee experience, and — you’ve guessed it right — the future of work.
Jacob is involved in thought leadership programs and works as an advisor and author. He’s very active on social media, sharing insights and curated content. Jacob also runs a newsletter, The Future of Work, and has written for Forbes and The Harvard Business Review.
Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies. For over 30 years, Jane Hart has helped organizations develop learning & development programs to support their employees.
Jane’s social media presence is centered on her expertise area, and she offers virtual L&D resources for companies and learning enthusiasts.
Jeanne Meister has a background in corporate learning and describes herself as a “workplace visionary and activist.” Jeanne is a partner in an HR advisory and research firm and co-author of “The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules For Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.”
On social media, Jeanne shares thoughts and curated content on new work trends and the future of work. The specialist also founded the Future Workplace Network, promoting discussions among C-level executives and VPs of Fortune 500 organizations.
Jeanne has written thought leadership articles for Financial Times, Fast Company, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, HR Executive, SHRM, and more.
Jennifer Kim is a startup advisor, leadership coach, and diversity and inclusion strategist. The influencer also runs the Inclusion At Work resource for diversity and inclusion on Twitter and a course for talent acquisition in startups.
The self-described “dot connector” helps startups embrace people ops as a critical part of their business. If you follow Jennifer, expect to see content on recruiting and hiring, people ops, startups, career development, and inclusion at work.
A five-time Chief Learning & Talent Officer at tech companies, Jenny Dearborn is currently the Chief People Officer at software company Klaviyo.
Jenny’s main fields are HR, human capital management, data analytics, and the future of work, which she explores on her social channels.
The thought leader is also an author and speaker, and has contributed to publications like Forbes, HuffPost, and Fast Company.
Jessica Hayes calls herself a “hands-on leader in People, Culture, and Talent.” An experienced speaker and panelist, the VP of People & Talent at Oslo-based software company Whereby is a firm believer in a humane and robust company culture as a competitive advantage.
In her current role, Jessica is building a team that is “t-shaped, tech-enabled, and innovative” and operates in a fully distributed and asynchronous way. The VP believes in placing DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) at the core of organizations, and not only as an “add-on.”
On her LinkedIn page, Jessica shares her own experiences in people ops, curated content, and events.
Joey V. Price
Joey V. Price is the founder and CEO of Jumpstart:HR. The company offers HR outsourcing and consulting for startups and small businesses. Joey also hosts the “Business, Life, and Coffee” podcast, with personal development and success tips for entrepreneurs.
A seasoned HR professional with hands-on experience in multiple organizations, Joey advocates for businesses to “translate their goal into high ROI through happily engaged staff members.” He also worked as an adjunct professor at New York’s Stony Brook University.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.
Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. is the President and CEO of SHRM — the Society for Human Resource Management. Before joining SHRM in 2017, he held high-level roles in leadership and HR: Senior Vice President of Human Resources (2005-2007) and Group CEO (2007-2009) at IAC, and President & CEO at Thurgood Marshall College (2010-2017).
A member of several advisory boards, Johnny has testified before the US Congress on critical workforce issues like sexual harassment and paid leave. He’s also chair of the US President’s Advisory Board on HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
Johnny is also a lawyer and author of the weekly “Ask HR” column on USA Today. The expert is “an active volunteer for education, employment, and other social causes.” His social channels include insights into HR and leadership topics.
A people strategist, consultant, trainer, speaker, and writer, Jon Ingham focuses on people organization, as well as strategic and innovative management. He has over 30 years of HR, change management, engineering, and IT experience, and currently leads the Jon Ingham HR Academy. The initiative aims at helping HR professionals develop their skills.
Acknowledged as a thought leader by various publications, the influencer writes about digital HR and the future of work. Social connection is a central theme to him, and his ideas about HR provide excellent food for thought.
Kathleen Hogan is Microsoft’s Chief People Officer & EVP of Human Resources. She joined the company in 2003 as COO of Worldwide Sales; Kathleen moved to the role of CVP of Worldwide Services in 2009 and became Chief People Officer in 2015.
Her mission is to empower the company’s 166,000+ employees worldwide to achieve goals within “a culture that attracts and inspires the world’s most passionate talent.” The CPO loves working towards “a more diverse, inclusive environment where everyone can learn and thrive.”
Kathleen is a member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) board. As a breast cancer survivor, she also offers her perspective to the board of directors for the Puget Sound affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
On LinkedIn, Kathleen shares content that inspires her, reflections, and insights into the future of work and leadership. The CPO also shares episodes of the People Talk series, in which she talks to other HR and people ops leaders.
Kathryn Minshew is the CEO and Founder of The Muse, a job search, professional advancement, and career advice platform. The Muse serves over 75 million people yearly and also supports employers:
“For companies, we help them tell a more authentic, data-driven employer story, and showcase the unique employee experiences and values that make them special. Ultimately, the goal is to help both sides find the right fit.”
The CEO is passionate about career development and helps companies attract and retain talent. Kathryn is also a big supporter of strong company cultures. For example, The Muse’s employees can take their children to work, and the company created a group for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
In 2017, Kathryn launched the book “The New Rules of Work,” which became a Wall Street Journal bestseller. She’s also a podcast host. The CEO shares curated and original content on many topics (especially those related to the workplace). Almost 300,000 (!) individuals follow her updates on LinkedIn.
Katie Burke has been with HubSpot for over eight years and has been the company’s Chief People Officer since 2017.
She is “passionate about all things diversity and inclusion, culture, and of course, Beyoncé.” The CPO believes in combining culture, innovation, leadership, and inclusivity to create a remarkable workplace experience. Under Katie’s leadership, the company became well-known for its unique workplace culture.
Katie started HubSpot’s diversity and inclusion activities, including an annual release of diversity data and initiatives to increase diversity in leadership. On LinkedIn and Twitter, she talks about the future of work, shares tips with candidates, offers leadership advice, and discusses diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts (and more).
A “modern HR advocate,” Lars Schmidt is passionate about “emergency work trends, tech, and people practices.” He shares ideas about the future of work — which, as he reminds his audience, is happening now — on his social media accounts and as a podcast host, speaker, and author.
Lars wrote the bestseller “Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams to Drive Business Performance” and is a regular Fast Company contributor.
With over 20 years of industry experience, he’s the founder of HR executive search and consulting firm Amplify. Lars has been included in lists of top influencers by HR Examiner, HuffPost, and LinkedIn.
Madison Butler brings a much-needed perspective to HR & people ops. She’s the VP of Talent, People & Culture at Sourced Craft Cocktails, and advocates for HR and people ops professionals to challenge the status quo and genuinely address topics like race and gender.
The influencer is passionate about culture, talent development, employee retention, and radical inclusion. In her candid posts, she advocates for “mental health, removing the stigma around trauma, DEI, and the ability to be ‘human at work.’”
Madison facilitates conversations that, for many, are still hard to have. She will soon launch a new podcast, Bye Bye Binary, accompanied by a career hub for the queer community.
Mark Stelzner is a seasoned HR professional who, in his own words, “spent his career fostering relationships through attention to detail, natural curiosity, and a self-deprecating sense of humor.”
Mark has been in the industry for 25+ years; for the past 15, he has led IA, an HR management consulting company advising senior executives. The expert has shared his thoughts on CNN, Forbes, NPB, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other media outlets.
On LinkedIn and Twitter, Mark advises leaders and industry professionals on HR transformation, employee well-being, benefits, best practices, and more.
Mary Jantsch is a people ops and remote work consultant and an instructor at the Startup Recruiting Bootcamp. Mary consults and provides training on culture, compensation models, talent acquisition, employer brand strategy, and more.
The expert strongly believes in investing in culture, people, and processes from an organization’s very start. You’ll find candid insights and actionable advice on all things HR and people ops on her social channels.
Meghan M. Biro
Meghan M. Biro is the founder and CEO of Talent Culture, which offers HR and content consulting services. She is the host of #WorkTrends, a podcast and Twitter chat with HR industry news and discussions.
Meghan describes herself as a talent management and HR tech “brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author, and speaker.” She regularly creates content on HR technology, entrepreneurship, and the future of work for Forbes, HuffPost, and other outlets.
A Harvard-trained attorney, Vernā Myers has worked as an inclusion consultant and strategist for over 25 years, supporting NGOs, Fortune 500 companies, and Wall Street clients. She joined Netflix in 2018 as VP of Inclusion Strategy and has written articles for influential media outlets like HuffPost and HuffPost.
Vernā’s insightful interviews and keynotes help bridge the gap between the need for DEI actions and leaders who are still seeking to educate themselves on the matter and, as we say in DEI, “do the work.” According to Vernā, advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do: these strategies are responsible for our ability to innovate.
The expert’s social media channels include original videos and thoughts, online events, and curated content. You’ll find actionable advice on attracting and retaining diverse talent and perspectives in your company.
— Follow us on LinkedIn and let us know if you have additional recommendations for this list.