Part 4: Is the CLO Role on Its Way Out?

John DiBenedetto is the executive vice president and chief people officer for General Parts International Inc., so he understands the CHRO role. He was also chief learning officer for retailer Wal-Mart.

But he said that particular function may be on its way out. What is increasingly common is instead a head of talent management role with recruiting, succession management and talent development melded into one.

“I can’t speak for every industry, but in my own industry where sales have been pretty soft, I don’t know if you’re going to get your money’s worth by having just a chief learning officer,” he said. “I look at my colleagues at Lowe’s, Home Depot; they’ve merged those two jobs together.

They’re high-ticket, highly priced jobs because they’re usually officer level people, and more than the economics of it, the functionality of the job makes sense to combine it.”

DiBenedetto said the chief talent or chief people officer needs a broader skill set, with more competencies than just understanding adult learning because he or she will have to work with senior business unit executives to develop a deep leadership bench. Once that bench has been identified, candidates have to be professionally developed. That may involve technical skills enhancement, stretch assignments or other strategies in line with succession management.

“And then you’ve got to be well-versed with the tools,” he said. “Today everything is electronic. You have e-talent management solutions, e-performance management solutions, and generally you see that [chief talent or people officer] job own all those components. You sometimes see recruitment integrated in there like I have with my company.”

He said both CHRO and CLO provide value, but “I’m not seeing a lot of the CLO title anymore. I think it’s run its course because it’s more broad than that when you’re talking about talent. You’re talking about human capital across all levels, whether it’s at the hourly level, non-exempt or management level, or senior executive level. I think you get more bang for the buck when you combine the two together.”