Time To Claim ‘Human’ Back In Human Resources

Interview with Sesil Pir

It’s a while ago you presented impressive numbers: you were head of HR in a multinational company, leading a team with 120 employees. 

You explained, you were reaching for the stars on one hand, and on the other, you were challenged and confused as you couldn’t bring in your authentic self to work. 

Would you like to tell us, what has changed in your life in the meantime?

Indeed, I think what has shifted for me is not the why but the how of what I do... My life mission has been and continues to be creating places of belonging for others. I have carried that mission into the workplace to create environments of meaning, safety, creativity and joy. 

What I realized around 2015 is that our people practices were no longer serving the individual nor the collective to build the cultures we aspired for. 

Majority of the work practices used to date is over 100 years old and were established by the industrialists of its time. They were not designed with human experience in mind and put profitability at the center. 

I wanted to challenge that. Along the way, I start to sponsor new research and discover innovative ways of leading our individual and collective experience forward.

What do you think HR departments do nowadays stand for? Is employee experience realistic anymore?

I think HR has always been and continue to be responsible for creating the right conditions for people to flourish. That will look different for each individual and organization and it requires a delicate act of creative thinking and strategic execution; yet, doable. 

The issues is HR just has not been aware of this sustained mission or if aware, has not stood up for it. Similar to our work practices, HR's previous missions have been a given by other communities and have been bounced around. 

I rebel against this :) and continue invite my colleagues to stand up for their profession.

How and in which concrete business fields can HR involve data and technology to make it more human? ​

Oh I have the most crazy ideas on technology solutions. :) 

I imagine for example chatbots that can support skill building for leaders, glass technologies for real time coaching, gamified experience for team effectiveness activities, etc. 

On a more practical side, I think it is critical for organizations to have a handle on their people data, draw regular insights to anticipate up and coming experience trends as well as to prioritize and communicate together with employees in a more meaningful fashion. 

That integration can really help democratize the relationship experience between the individual and organization.



About Sesil Pir

Over the past decade, Sesil Pir has held HR Executive positions at Deloitte, Honeywell, Cargill, Microsoft and Novartis; she now serves as the Head of Employee Experience at Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Founder of SESIL PIR Consulting GmbH, a research based management consultancy, focusing on organizational development and effectiveness topics. 

Sesil has been published in the Harvard Business Review, HR Zone and UK’s HR Magazine, and has contributed to several Human Resources Management books. She is an active writer on Forbes about future of work topics and an educator on LinkedIn Learning

She has recently debut her new book, Human-Centered Leadership, summarizing a set of core human attributes and new mindsets necessary for 21st century leaders. She is an advocate for technology, art, and humanity.  


SPOT ON is organizer of the DisruptHR Events in Zurich.

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Sesil Pir

Head of Employee Experience bei Takeda & CEO and Principal Consultant bei Sesil Pir Consulting GmbH

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