General Session: Engaging and Retaining the Talent of Tomorrow

Engaging and Retaining the Talent of Tomorrow

Event Link
Thursday 6 October
08:30 AM – 10:00 AM

The digital world is upon us: It has changed the way we work, the way we communicate and the way we lead our lives. But are we ready for the changes it has unleashed on HR? Digital technologies such as sensors, mobile connectivity and analytics are requiring employers and HRIT leaders to reshape their HR strategies, reconsider their HR technologies and redesign how they deliver solutions to their employees. Based on research, industry analyst Josh Bersin will discuss how digital HR is disrupting organizations in an unprecedented way and forcing HR leaders to re-evaluate their current practices and approaches. Come learn how forward-thinking organizations are embracing concepts such as analytics, design thinking and behavioral economics to transform their HR solutions and programs in order to deliver greater value to the business.


Soledad O’Brien

Starfish Media Group


photo of Soledad O’Brien
Soledad O’Brien

Award winning journalist, Soledad O’Brien has established herself as one of the most recognized names in broadcasting, bringing wider exposure as storyteller to some of the most important issues and stories in the world through her coverage of breaking news, and critically-acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and Latino in America.

In 2005 O’Brien and her husband started Starfish Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps bridge the gap of opportunities for young minority women from low-income families to attend college. Soledad’s memoir The Next Big Story: My Journey through the Land of Possibilities chronicles her biggest reporting moments and how her upbringing and background have influenced these experiences and was published in 2010.

O’Brien has earned numerous Emmy awards for her reporting on the earthquake in Haiti, her coverage of the 2012 Presidential Election, and her work on “Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture.” Her coverage of Hurricane Katrina earned her and CNN a Peabody award and she earned another for her coverage of the BP Gulf coast oil spill.

In 2013, she launched Starfish Media Group, a multiplatform media production and distribution company dedicated to uncovering and producing empowering stories that take a look at the often divisive issues of race, class, wealth, poverty and opportunity. O’Brien is also a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and a contributing editor to the PBS NewsHour.

O’Brien has also been selected to apply her wealth of expertise as a member of the RAND Corporation’s 2015 Board of Trustees. An engaging storyteller, she offers a behind-the-scenes look at her life, work, and inspiring, empowering narratives by bringing a voice and sharing untold stories in the world.

Diane Gherson



photo of Diane Gherson
Diane Gherson

Diane Gherson is senior vice president, Human Resources for IBM. As IBM’s Chief Human Resource Officer, Diane is helping to accelerate IBM’s transformation through leadership, differentiated talent models, attracting and developing the best talent and building a culture of engagement, agility and innovation. Under Diane’s leadership, IBM has instituted ground-breaking solutions for optimizing global workforce outcomes through talent analytics and data, with special emphasis on predictive analytics as a cornerstone of how IBM manages human resources.

In her 13 years with IBM, Diane has had extensive experience leading organizational transformations. Prior to her current role, she was the vice president, Talent, where she integrated IBM’s talent functions to deliver faster end-to-end solutions in the areas of skills, careers, succession, performance management, attraction and retention. During her tenure, IBM was named #1 in FORTUNE magazine’s Global Top Company for Leaders study – the first company to earn this recognition two consecutive times. Her other roles have included leading human resources for IBM Global Business Services, where she drove large scale growth in the consulting and applications management business. Diane joined IBM as the vice president, Compensation and Benefits for the corporation. In this position, she refreshed and transformed the $30B compensation and benefits portfolio to drive substantial value for the enterprise.

Diane was named as one of the 2015 Fifteen Most Powerful Women in HR by HR Executive. Her 2015 essay “HR Disrupted: The Next Agenda for Transformation and Delivering Value” was featured in The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders,an anthology of essays on critical issues facing business and talent professionals. In 2013, Diane was awarded a U.S. patent in the field of predictive analytics. Diane serves on the board of directors of both the HR Policy Association and the American Health Policy Institute. Prior to IBM, Diane was a partner with consulting firm Towers Watson, overseeing the global employee and performance management compensation practice.

Diane earned a Bachelor of Arts with honours from Trinity College, University of Toronto, and a Masters degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. While she chose not to complete the degree, she also attended MIT as a PhD candidate at the Sloan School of Management. Diane lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and is married with two children.

Francine Katsoudas

SVP, Chief People Officer
Cisco Systems


photo of Francine Katsoudas
Francine Katsoudas

Francine Katsoudas is Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer of Cisco. She plays a major role in the company’s overall performance, leading organizational strategy, promoting operational effectiveness, and elevating team performance through innovative leadership.

She leads Cisco’s business-driven People Strategy and People Deal, both of which support and align to Cisco’s overall business strategy and are essential to driving the Company’s transformational journey. She also is evolving Cisco’s approach to strategic workforce planning with programs highlighting the skills and capabilities that employees need to be innovative in today’s technology driven environment. She fosters a culture of full spectrum participation, emphasizing inclusion and collaboration to drive exponential business value. A 20-year veteran of Cisco, Katsoudas has extensive experience leading organizational transformations, driving large scale growth, talent acquisition, leadership development, and succession planning.

Prior to her current role, she was the HR leader and business partner to the Engineering leadership team helping oversee its workforce of more than 25,000 people. She has also held leadership positions in the Service Provider, HR Operations, Customer Service, Acquisition Integration and Services groups. Prior to Cisco, Katsoudas worked in both the financial and professional services industries with a focus on customer service and operations. Fran is a member of the Children’s Discovery Museum Board.

Dermot O’Brien



photo of Dermot J. O'Brien
Dermot J. O’Brien

Dermot J. O’Brien serves as Corporate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for ADP. Dermot joined ADP in 2012 and leads the company’s global human capital strategy, including talent acquisition, performance management, succession planning, learning, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility. Since joining the company, Dermot has been driving the alignment of the company’s human capital strategy to its business strategy, while achieving exceptional levels of associate engagement. Prior to this, Dermot served as Executive Vice President of Human Resources at TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 Company, where he served for nine years. During his time at TIAA-CREF he was instrumental in leading significant positive shifts in business performance and employee engagement through the design and effective deployment of talent, leadership, reward, and inclusion strategies. He also played an important client relationship role. Earlier in his career, Dermot held several senior HR positions at Merrill Lynch & Co & Morgan Stanley, based in North America, Hong Kong and Japan. Mr. O’Brien is a founding member of the Human Resource-50 Group, an invitation-only, thought-leadership and knowledge-sharing group consisting of chief human resource officers from the world’s most respected companies; the Personnel Round Table, an organization of senior Fortune 500 HR executives; and the Center for Executive Succession Advisory Board member, which focuses on the effectiveness of executive succession practices in firms. Mr. O’Brien has volunteered with Junior Achievement over the years, teaching children the basics of financial literacy. A native of Dublin, Ireland, he holds an undergraduate degree in finance from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, where he is a frequent guest lecturer.

Scott Pitasky

EVP and Chief Partner Resources Officer


photo of Scott Pitasky
Scott Pitasky

Scott Pitasky leads Starbucks global partner (human) resources organization as executive vice president and chief partner resources officer. Scott joined Starbucks in October 2014 to lead efforts to support and transform Starbucks partner experience. Scott’s background includes three decades of broad human resources and organizational design experience from the technology, financial services and other business sectors. Prior to joining Starbucks, Scott spent more than a dozen years at Microsoft, where he led the global talent function for the company as Corporate Vice President of Talent and Organization Capability. Prior to that, Scott led Amazon’s human resources function during a period of rapid growth as the company grew from 800 to 8,000 employees. His career has also included human resources and finance roles with AlliedSignal and as a consultant. Before pursuing his career in human resources, Scott worked in strategy consulting and financial services with Citicorp. Scott graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in finance and management. Outside of work, he serves as a trustee with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and enjoys outdoor sports and cooking. His favorite Starbucks beverage is coffee brewed on the Clover (iced with one brown sugar in the summer), which he enjoys at his neighborhood Sammamish, Washington store.