Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Kimberly Jones on Priorities, Pushing the Envelope and PwC’s People

For this week’s edition of Faces of HR, we give flowers to Kimberly Jones, Talent Strategy and People Experience Leader at PwC US. Jones began her career three decades ago as an auditor at PwC – at the time it was Price Waterhouse – after graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s degree in accounting.

Kimberly Jones

Although she achieved her goal of becoming a CPA within her first year out of college, Jones became more intrigued by the company’s HR function. Ultimately, she uncovered her true passion after immersing herself in recruiting and more people-centric activities.

“Leveraging my client service experience, I fortunately had the support of my leadership team to explore a dual role in both client service and recruiting,” Jones shared with HR Daily Advisor. “As time progressed, I smoothly transitioned deeper into what is widely known as “human capital” or “people.” Over the next few years, I built on my foundational business experience to fully immerse myself in the people’s experience and have never looked back!”

In our latest Faces, meet Kimberly Jones.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

The biggest influences on my professional journey have been the Chief People Officers (CPOs) I’ve had the privilege of working alongside. Learning from each of them, I gained valuable insights into operational considerations and a deeper understanding of how our people strategies significantly contribute to supporting the overall PwC business. Their commitment to development and mentorship taught me how to make a genuine impact for PwC’s 75,000+ strong community of solvers on a large scale.

Additionally, my own client service experience has shaped my approach and priorities. I have witnessed firsthand what truly makes a difference in the day-to-day of our people—especially when it comes to fostering a balance between their work priorities and daily personal responsibilities.

What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?

One of my most valuable experiences was investing both time and resources into earning a master’s degree in accounting, only to find myself not utilizing much of that technical education in my career shortly after graduation. At first glance, getting the advanced accounting degree might have seemed like a regrettable choice, but it turned out to be my “best mistake.” It was my path toward a greatly rewarding, three-decade career in the People area at a firm I deeply love and respect, PwC.

Through this journey, I learned a valuable lesson—life often takes a circuitous route to guide you to where you’re meant to be. I’ve come to appreciate that there are no real mistakes; every step in my path, even the unexpected ones, played a crucial role in shaping my career, personal growth, and my life.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

My favorite aspect of working in this industry is the opportunity to bring new ideas to life that enhance the overall experience for our people at PwC. From upskilling on generative AI to building on our culture of belonging, it’s immensely rewarding to implement ideas that directly impact the lives of our employees across the country.

On the flip side, there are common and narrow misconceptions about HR that we can address. I believe in shaping the narrative by highlighting the tangible impact we’ve had within our organizations. This involves shining a light on the programs and efforts that go beyond the conventional understanding of HR. Whether it’s offering culture enhancing protected time away from work—like PwC’s two week-long firmwide shutdowns—or celebrating professional development through memorable events like PwC’s annual Promotion Day, there are important moments that HR organizations create that can help broaden the perception of HR as an industry. As another example, through PwC’s My+ people strategy, our people organization has played an impactful role in helping our firm continually offer cutting-edge tools and developmental programs that empower our people to learn, grow and better serve our clients.

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

Deep commitment to people is at the core of my work in this industry, and it stems from recognizing the profound impact that work has on our overall quality of life. We spend a significant portion of our lives in the workplace, and it’s so important that this time benefits both the organization and the individual.

I believe in creating an environment that fosters the growth and well-being of everyone within it. It’s about providing a comfortable, engaging, and inspiring place where our people can share their unique talents to serve our clients effectively. We want our people to find purpose in their work and to develop themselves both technically and personally, nurturing their own growth and interpersonal skills.

It’s important to be there for our people when life presents challenges that require extra support. Whether it’s personal circumstances or professional development, our role in the People team is to offer guidance and assistance. My personal mission within our People team at PwC is to make our people’s experience at work the best it can possibly be. I want to ensure that everyone feels safe, valued and empowered to contribute their best to our collective success – and gain rewarding experiences that enrich their lives while doing so.

How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?

By emphasizing alignment with business goals, tangible impact, and real-life stories, we can ensure that the value of HR is both evident and compelling to the leadership team. This means keeping the relevance and sustainability of the business at the forefront of all our People strategies. We must move beyond simply showcasing activity and instead focus on demonstrating the concrete impact of our initiatives on the vitality of the business. Numbers and metrics are important, but we should also provide tangible stories and real-life examples that illustrate the positive influence of our policies, procedures, programs, and strategies.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

As we look ahead five years in the industry, several trends and shifts are on the horizon. One notable transformation is the growing role of AI in enhancing efficiency and productivity across the board. AI technologies are indispensable tools in optimizing performance, streamlining processes, and unlocking new avenues of innovation. At PwC, we’ve introduced ChatPwC, our own generative AI tool, and we anticipate a continuous surge in the adoption of technologies, some of which may not even exist today, into our daily work routines. I imagine it reshaping how we approach our tasks, from communication to problem-solving, enabling us to stay at the forefront of a dynamic and ever-changing landscape.

I also foresee the enduring significance of fostering trust and well-being within our industry. The need for organizations to prioritize the well-being of their people and stakeholders remains paramount. Establishing and maintaining trust in an era of rapid change will also continue to be a core pillar of our industry’s future.

What are you most proud of?

I am incredibly proud of the invaluable contribution that our PwC People team consistently makes toward establishing PwC as an amazing place to work. In 2023, PwC achieved its highest position in six years on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list, rising over 30 spots to #30. Our commitment to fostering an environment where our people can thrive serves as a testament to the remarkable collaboration and dedication of our entire community of solvers.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

First and foremost, always remember your “why.” The initial passion and purpose that inspires you should remain a guiding star throughout your journey.

Next, don’t shy away from pushing the envelope with your leaders. Be unafraid to propose innovative ideas and challenge the status quo.

Listening is also a key skill in this profession. Actively seek and value the ideas and insights of your employees. Their perspectives can be wellsprings of innovation and wisdom.

Lastly, remember to cultivate enriching relationships. Strong bonds with colleagues, mentors and peers are not just beneficial; they are crucial. These connections provide support, guidance, and collaboration opportunities, ensuring you have the most fulfilling and successful career experience possible.

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