Editor’s Note: Outstanding HR Leaders

As we do at our HRO Today Forum North America, this year at our EMEA event in Barcelona, we honored the best of the best with our CHRO of the Year Awards. We were equally impressed with the efforts of this year’s winners and I wanted to share some their accomplishments here.

CHRO of the Year, Non-Profit

David Blackburn
Chief People Officer
Financial Services Compensation Scheme

David Blackburn’s strategic overhaul of HR included a new engagement strategy, a program to improve diversity, and a complete upgrade of HR technology. The results? His efforts have seen the company’s employee engagement level hit a new high, rising from 65% to 89% during his tenure. 

CHRO of the Year, Small Market 

Ilona Popczyk
EVP, Human Resources and Data Protection Officer
Green Man Gaming, LTD

Ilona Popczyk joined the online betting tech firm five years ago when it had about 100 employees and no HR function at all. Popczyk’s data-driven approach to HR has measurable results: organizational happiness is up 18%, their Glassdoor rating is 4.9, and company revenues have grown by 5% year over year.

CHRO of the Year, Mid-Market

Gokhan Ata Okutan
HR and Shared Services Director
Akkim Kimya

Gokhan Ata Okutan joined the chemical manufacturer in 2021 on the heels of the pandemic. His efforts in leadership development, company culture, and employee engagement have driven impressive results: their trust index has improved 17%, participation in surveys is now 85%, and the company has earned a coveted spot on the Great Places to Work list.

CHRO of the Year, Large Market

Ibolya Gothardi
Group CHRO
4iG Group

Ibolya Gothardi has helped 4iG Group succeed through tremendous growth coming out of mergers. Two years ago, the company had 1,900 employees; today, they have 8,200. Some of their game-changing metrics include an 80% acceptance rate and a time to hire that is two-thirds of the industry benchmarks. Gothardi has also improved diversity, particularly with respect to females in leadership roles.  

CHRO of the Year, Sustainable Workforce

Mary Kinyua
Naivas Ltd.

When Mary Kinyua joined Naivas, one of the largest retailers in East Africa, the company had no centralized HR function so she was tasked to build an HR team from scratch. During this process, she had to reduce about 200 job titles, create salary ranges, reorganize divisions, and implement HR technology. With more than 11,000 associates at their more than 100 locations, all of the associates now access HR services using mobile technology.

CHRO of the Year, Lifetime Achievement

Şengül Arslan

Seven years ago when Şengül Arslan arrived at Şişecam, she inherited a less than modern HR organization with dated technology and a decentralized staff, supporting what was four different companies under a loosely held corporate entity. The effort to transform the organization into the unified corporation it is today required a full overhaul of management structures, jobs, corporate support functions, technology, and company culture.

In 2024, we’ll be in Dublin—who will impress us then?

Until next time,

SVP/Editorial Director

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