Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Katherine Loranger on Leading with Integrity and HR as a Service Function

Meet Katherine Loranger, Chief People Officer at Safeguard Global, a global workforce management company. She brings more than two decades of experience to her role, where she provides strategic HR planning to not only tap the best talent available but also position Safeguard Global as an employer of choice within the industry. 

Katherine Loranger

As a people leader, she promotes a culture of innovation, accountability, and service in all Safeguard Global offices around the world. What’s at the heart of this belief? Integrity.

“As a leader, every interaction serves as a mentoring moment,” she recently shared with HR Daily Advisor. “Uphold integrity in all actions, as your behavior sets the standard for the team. Leading by example fosters a culture of excellence and commitment to the organization’s goals. Remember, you’re always unofficially mentoring others, so always put your best foot forward.”

In our latest Faces, meet Katherine Loranger.

How did you get your start in the field?

I initially pursued a degree in biology, but the isolated nature of that path wasn’t a fit for me. As I delved into my professional life, I discovered a passion for advocating for others and desired a career with more varied responsibilities and that allowed me to be a champion for people. This realization led me to pursue an MBA in HR. Throughout my journey, I immersed myself in diverse HR functions, actively seeking opportunities to broaden my expertise. This hands-on approach laid the groundwork for me to eventually lead larger HR teams.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

In one particular role, I had the privilege of collaborating with a leader who showcased how HR could serve as a strategic partner across all facets of the business. Their mentorship not only affirmed my career choice but also provided invaluable insights into “the why” behind our actions as HR professionals. This mentor emphasized the importance of viewing HR not merely as a function but as a strategic influencer within the organization, fostering a holistic understanding of its impact on employee experiences across the company.

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

Looking back, the challenges of navigating 2020 provided profound learning experiences for our team. One notable mistake was assuming that managers would seamlessly transition to remote leadership. Despite our efforts in providing resources and guidance, we underestimated the complexities involved, especially for managers accustomed to traditional in-person interactions. This experience underscored the critical importance of emotional intelligence and empathy in leadership, particularly during times of crisis.

We learned that effective remote management requires more than just technical resources; it necessitates a deep understanding of individual and team emotional needs. As a result, we focused on developing comprehensive frameworks for supporting managers in fostering connections with their remote teams, emphasizing regular communication, empathy, and flexibility. This experience reinforced the need for adaptive leadership approaches to meet the evolving needs of the workforce, regardless of the circumstances. As we continue to embrace recruiting and hiring anywhere in the world, with more and more distributed teams, it’s been helpful in supporting leaders for whom remote management is a new opportunity.

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

I love that HR gives me the opportunity to work with diverse people and professions all around the world.  I’m able to get to know and understand our client experience team, our software engineers, and our operators.  Each has different perspectives I can learn from. And I have the ability to impact each of their experiences at our organization and help them live their best professional lives. 

The most difficult part of my job is making tough business decisions that affect people. I get through that by ensuring that I’m keeping the individual’s best interests in mind. I communicate honestly and transparently. I provide high levels of attention and service. 

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.

I’ve always considered HR a service function. My team understands that we must hold the gold standard of communication, care, and integrity. If we serve our employees well, understand their needs, and help them feel safe and valued, it’s going to be beneficial for everyone. We listen to our employees when they tell us how they want to work in a flexible way that allows them to balance their personal and professional lives. By allowing them flexibility, they feel cared about, and they stay committed to our business and creating quality work. 

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

HR can effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team by showcasing strong leadership approaches. Transparency in strategy and execution, coupled with empowering the team to accomplish goals using their own skills, builds trust. It’s important to adjust leadership styles to match the organization’s needs. During crises, a more direct approach may be necessary, but with a strong leadership brand, the team will understand the rationale behind decisions.

Where do you see the industry heading in 5 years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

The industry is experiencing a significant power shift, with job candidates and employees recognizing their worth and seeking companies with supportive cultures and flexible work arrangements. To retain top talent, companies must prioritize empathetic and people-centric leadership. Work is evolving beyond the traditional 9-to-5 model, emphasizing the importance of meaningful connections and work/life integration.

What are you most proud of?

At Safeguard Global, we take pride in prioritizing the needs of our people. Recognizing the changing dynamics of work, our leadership team embarked on reimagining the future of work in 2021. We advocate for people-centric and flexible work policies, believing that empowered employees lead to increased productivity and innovation. We believe in the need to evolve into Work In Any Way companies. Our collaborative culture reflects our commitment to supporting individual needs while driving organizational success.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Adaptability is crucial in HR. Leadership styles should evolve alongside the needs of the team, employees, and the company. The truth is, within HR, you get to see the good, bad, and ugly—what works and what doesn’t. Learning from a diverse range of models and experiences, both successful and unsuccessful, provides invaluable insights. Embrace challenges as learning opportunities, and strive to continually refine your approach to meet evolving demands.

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