Wipfli’s journey in developing innovative HR leaders
The early part of each year is a great time for planning. Here at Wipfli, we’re doing it at the organizational level, and this year we took a special opportunity to do it at the HR level.
As Wipfli has grown, the HR team has grown too. We’ve built a diverse and capable HR leadership team, with members from across the globe — from locations in the U.S. to India. As a CHRO, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative power of a well-developed HR team. A strong team’s focus is beyond just managing HR processes and reacting to internal needs; they understand the profound impact that HR leaders have on the lifeblood of Wipfli — our associates and, in turn, our clients.
Creating a sense of purpose and fostering a culture of continuous learning takes intentional effort. That’s why our recent planning retreat was so important. It helped us focus not just on adapting but on innovating and thriving amid challenges. We prioritized slowing down and committing to each other with an intentional and inspiring agenda.
At the heart of our recent retreat was a pivotal objective: Create a cohesive HR leadership team and focus on our own individual development This deliberate step created a melting pot of diverse ideas, where the unique viewpoints of each leader contributed to a richer, more comprehensive approach to HR leadership at Wipfli. This diversity, far from being a challenge, emerged as our strength, driving us toward a more inclusive and effective HR strategy. In this collective harmony, we found our team’s true strength, rooted in the diverse experiences and insights each member brought to the table.
I’m extremely proud of the outcomes we were able to achieve. But how did we get there? Our work started by aligning our thinking with Wipfli’s organizational objectives. We also listened to an external speaker about innovative leadership, culture and AI. This introduction became the cornerstone of our shared efforts — connecting our work to the firm overall.
Another feature of our retreat was a focus on curiosity and creativity. We used tools like “trend watch” — where we each shared a trend that we had been keeping an eye on. This turned out to be an amazing source of innovative ideas and expertise, unveiling each team member’s strengths and commitment to their craft. A “design thinking” activity helped us to reimagine HR practices as creative processes. This shift in mindset is empowering us to approach HR challenges with a fresh, solution-focused perspective, where creativity and innovation are front of mind.
We then delved into understanding how HR’s current and future priorities could be a catalyst for achieving the firm’s goals and how the trends we reviewed could push us to think differently. This was critical to seeing HR not as an isolated function but as an integral part of the organization’s journey toward success. It allowed us to focus on opportunities where HR can lead and innovate in priorities that resonate with the company’s future direction. We spent time in energetic breaks that brought out our human side and gave our brains the right amount of energy to shut off our technology each day.
The retreat became more than just a meeting; it was a key step in our plan to build a team of HR leaders who are not only effective and adaptable but are innovative, creative and inspirational.
This retreat motivated and energized me; it is part of a deeply personal mission to cultivate leaders who excel in their roles and contribute to the greater vision of the firm — all through meaningful connections and purpose.