Littal Shemer Haim

People Analytics, HR Data Strategy, Organizational Research – Consultant, Mentor, Speaker, Influencer

Challenge: 365 Women worth watching – in Data, People Analytics and HR Tech

A snowball of inspiration, that hopefully will encourage more women, and particularly HR professionals, to enter the data world. These women are Role Models for aspiring People Analytics practitioner. The list includes valuable sources related to most of the professionals.
Photography by Littal Shemer Haim ©
(Reading Time: 14 minutes)

At the end of 2017, I was selected by HR-Tech-Nation to be among top bloggers to follow. It was a great honor to be mentioned in a list of excellent writers, which are my source of inspiration and learning. One of them, William Tincup, commented that next time he would like to see more women on the list.

Well… I decided to take his note as a personal challenge and salute 365 women, one for each day in a year. There is only one IWD (International Women Day), but for me, every day is a woman’s day. My list of women worth watching, however, will encompass not only HR Tech leaders, but also Data heroes and People Analytics exceptional practitioners. My selection order is completely associative, i.e., there is no ranking here. Each of the following women is truly inspiring!

Recommendations are keep coming, both from women and men in our industry. I feel that this challenge is becoming a snowball of inspiration. I hope it will encourage more women, and particularly HR professionals, to enter the data world of HR. I believe that these women are Role Models for every aspiring People Analytics practitioner. That’s why I insist on including on my list, not merely the names, but also valuable sources and references related to most of the professionals (Click name with “*” to see references). So let’s celebrate and share this!

(Note: Work in progress. The list is sorted alphabetically)

Alexis Fink  (LinkedInTwitter)

“Learning to add influencing skills to your portfolio of capabilities will help you deliver actionable projects.”
Alexis Fink is I/O Psychologist at Intel. In her article, she enumerates three well known fundamental competencies of “People Analytics” professionals: content expertise, data expertise, and analytics expertise. However, she adds the forth: influencing expertise, and explains that “It begins with a partnership, jointly identifying important problems to solve and agreeing that a particular approach would be useful in guiding decision making”. Influencing expertise also includes identifying key insight and ability to identify actions to take based on those insights. I often quote this idea, which makes Alexis influential in my community too!

Ambrosia Vertesi (LinkedInTwitter)

“Sharing the things that brings our collective skillset up in a centralized open source way would increase the sector intellectual capital.”
Ambrosia Vertesi is VP People in Duo Security, a fast-growing start-up that helps companies like Facebook, Etsy, and Yelp to protect their applications and systems against hackers. She was formerly VP Talent in Hootsuite and grew the organization from 20 to over 1,000 employees. Ambrosia is committed to advancing people practices and fostering collaborative learning for Human Resources leaders. She is the co-founder of HROS – HR Open Source, a community of nearly 5000 Human Resources and Recruiting practitioners in 60 countries, who share their knowledge globally. This remarkably successful initiative transforms the field of HR to become more strategic and innovative, by access to free curated sources, including case studies in People Analytics. Ambrosia is also a well-known speaker in HR Conferences around the world.

Anna Lena Fritzsche (LinkedIn)

Claudia Perlich (LinkedInTwitter)

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic (LinkedInTwitter)

“The graph is the only part of the entire analytical process that your audience ever sees! It deserves at least as much time and attention as the other parts.”
Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic is the author of storytelling with data: a data visualization guide for business professionals, a book that covers the fundamentals of data visualization and effective communication with data. She also teaches storytelling with data through examples and tips in her blog and public workshops around the globe. Recently she was a manager on the Google People Analytics team, where she used a data-driven approach to inform innovative people programs and management practices, ensuring that Google attracted, developed, and retained great talent and that the organization was best aligned to meet business needs. Listen to her career story, literally, and practical advice, in the latest Tucana podcast.

Dawn Klinghoffer  (LinkedInTwitter)

“CHRO support is extremely important to ensure truly leveraging data when people decisions are made.”
Dawn Klinghoffer, General Manager of HR Business Insights team, leads the People Analytics function globally for Microsoft. Her responsibilities include advanced people analytics and research for business units, analytics and reporting support for HR programs such as global diversity and inclusion, global HR services, talent management, and L&D. She is also responsible for reporting and HR tech tools, as well as employee data privacy. Dawn majored in mathematics and started her journey in Microsoft in Finance. When she joined HR, in a part-time role after she had her first child, she did not realize that after a couple of years she would create a future profession and that her perspectives on the People Analytics role would be influential globally. Here is an example of insights about managers’ behaviors, that Microsoft presented at the Wharton People Analytics conference last year.

Debbie Berebichez  (LinkedInTwitter)

“We can defeat our culture and background, follow our passion, and succeed in STEM!”


Debbie Berebichez was the first Mexican woman to graduate with a physics Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is a Chief Data Science at Metis, a training company, where she builds, develops and retains a world-class data science instructional team. She is also a frequent public speaker at industry conferences. But I stumble into her story in a podcast, actually, and frankly, it brought me into tears. I won’t spoil it, listen to Debbie here.

Esther Bongenaar  (LinkedIn)

“Skip reporting Stats, go straight to Insights! Always ask yourself: What do I want to solve?”
Esther Bongenaar is VP HR Data and Analytics at Shell. She is responsible for broad key domains such as Predictive HR Analytics, HR Management Information & Reporting, Assessments, and HR Surveys. Most of her career she was involved in refinery optimizations and energy demands modeling, but she knows how to translate business questions into theoretical problems, and that’s what People Analytics is all about! Some influential case studies she contributed during the years helped me to grasp what I wanted to do in organizations. She recently shared her perspective and experience in this podcast.

Fiona Jamison (LinkedIn)

Frida Polli (LinkedInTwitter)

“Allow everyone in society that has the ability and the desire to be an entrepreneur to view themselves that way.”
Frida Polli, Ph.D. is the CEO and Co-founder of Pymetrics, a startup that uses de-biased AI to builds a cognitive and emotional trait profile of a company’s top performers to source, select, and develop potential talent. Pymetrics is the only predictive hiring technology to ensure that algorithms are bias-free, making them a pioneer for democratizing and diversifying predictive hiring. Frida is an award-winning Harvard / MIT trained neuroscientist who turned a startup founder. After a decade in academic neuroscience, She sought to apply neuroscience and data science to real-world problems. What a wonderful role model she is to her two daughters! Watch her inspiring interview and explore more about her vision and personal story.

Geetanjali Gamel (LinkedIn)

“The boldest data science creations – a recommender engine that leverages employee data on skillsets, experience, personality, interests, working-style and engagement.”
Geetanjali Gamel is Director of Workforce Analytics and Planning in Merck, and previously was People Analytics Leader in Mastercard. There were many opportunities to learn from her experience in those roles, e.g., to explore the challenges of building a data-driven people analytics initiative within the HR function, and to realize the value of Predictive Workforce Analytics in work environments, where churn may be part of a new normal for key talent segments. Geetanjali brings quantitative research competencies to the multidisciplinary arena of People Analytics. She holds a Master in Economics and was also a self-taught investor, who plays with data to find good opportunities for investment.

Greta Roberts  (LinkedInTwitter)

“Workforce analytics extend beyond HR!”
Greta Roberts is CEO of Talent Analytics, Corp., chairperson of Predictive Analytics World – for Workforce, an online instructor in UCI, where she teaches Predictive Workforce Analytics, and yes! she was my teacher! Her contribution to the way I understand and conduct People Analytics is most significant. I appreciate the opportunities she creates to learn from her valuable experience, and her openness to exchange thoughts and ideas. If you want an example of complexity that becomes simplicity, just watch Greta here.

Heather Whiteman (LinkedIn)

Heather Whiteman, Ph.D is Head of People Strategy, Analytics, Digital Learning and HR Operations in GE Digital. She utilizes advanced analytic techniques to drive business insights and decision making in the domains of recruiting, learning, development, organizational design and culture. Heather particularly focused on identifying key capabilities and talent segments, in order to shifts an industrial organization into a digital one. In PAFOW 2018 she provided a case study of how analytics informed the talent strategy that took GE Digital from 200 to 26,000 employees over a five-year period! Heather has a master degree in I/O psychology and a doctorate in human capital management. She is the instructor of “Introduction to Human Capital Analytics” – a UC Berkeley on-line course.

Irma Doze (LinkedIn)

Jen Phillips Kirkwood (LinkedInTwitter)

“One of my biggest passions … is what the impact on the client, … and what are all those metrics ends time to that customer experience.”
Jen Phillips Kirkwood is Sr. Director, Future of Work Consulting in ADP, a company where she have worked for 20 years and filled variety of roles. Jen is an evangelist of how HR and IT leadership can harness the impact data science in Workforce Analytics. She is an active member in data science professional communities (e.g., INFORMS, PAW Workforce, DAA and HR Leadership forums of SHRM and IHRIM). Jen is an inspiring speaker. She contributes her insights on social media through radio shows, blogs and social chats, and speaks at industry forums, events and leadership summits.

Jennifer Prendki (LinkedInTwitter)

Judith Hurwitz (LinkedInTwitter)

“You can’t do AI and ML without good data. It doesn’t have to be a massive amount of data. It has to be the right data.”
Judith Hurwitz is President and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates LLC, an enterprise software strategy and consulting firm focused on emerging technologies, including cloud computing, big data and analytics, cognitive computing, security, and more. She is the author of “Cognitive Computing and Big Data Analytics” and “Smart or Lucky? How Technology Leaders Turn Chance into Success”. She is also known for her 6 Dummies books, including Machine Learning for Dummies, which can help non-technological people to understand what machine learning is, and how it can impact the use of data to gain insights. Watch her perspective about big data and the need for data integration.

Julie Yoo (LinkedInTwitter)

“There will never be a shortage of need for Data scientists, so if you like it, if you think you’re going to be pretty good at it, I say – go for it!”
Julie Yoo, PhD is Chief Scientific and Co-founder of Pymetrics. Julie was a postdoctoral neuroscientist at MIT and the Department of Defense. Her research projects included using machine learning to predict optimal learning time based on real-time neuroimaging data, and building automatic speech recognition machines. Now she leads a startup that takes crucial advances in cognitive neuroscience to create analytics-informed decision-making and performance-enhancement software for the human capital field. Learn more about her journey, the “marriage” between Neuroscience and Machine Learning, and her point of view about the role of data science.

Kamelia Aryafar (LinkedInTwitter)

Kate Strachnyi (LinkedInTwitter)

Kieran Snyder (LinkedInTwitter)

“Call to action for hiring managers: If you want top talent, you need to recognize different resume communication styles and the skill sets behind them.”
Kieran Snyder, PhD is CEO and Co-Founder of Textio, an augmented writing platform for creating effective job listings. Textio analyzes hiring outcomes of more than 10 million job posts a month, finds meaningful language patterns that cause some posts to succeed more than others, offers real-time guidance for improving job post wording, and thus contributes to higher number of diverse and qualified applicants and improves time to hire. Kieran was nominated lately as a Role Model by the Female Founders Alliance in Seattle. She has a PhD in linguistics, and her publications shed light on linguistic gender differences in performance reviews and resumes.

Laurie Bassi (LinkedInTwitter)

“My life’s aim is to improve the state of human capital management, helping organizations to find win-win relationships with their employees.”
Laurie Bassi, Ph.D. is an Economist who helps companies to maximize their return on people, by linking human capital metrics to business results, and by providing a fact-based framework for prioritizing human capital management initiatives. Laurie is the Co-Author of “Good Company: Business Success in the Worthiness Era” that stress the necessity of companies to consistently demonstrate good behavior as employers, sellers, and influencer in their communities and environment, in order to survive and thrive. She is also the Co-Author of “HR Analytics Handbook”. As an HR analytics expert, she is a popular speaker around the globe. I’m looking forward to listen to her talk about Sentiment Analysis in People Analytics World 2018 in London. Till then, listen to her ideas about the relationship between HR and Economics, how to frame things in the context of finance and performance, and more about employee engagement.

Lexy Martin  (LinkedInTwitter)

“Whatever you do, make sure you are involved in something that you are passionate about.”
Lexy Martin is Principal,  and Customer Value, in Visier, a workforce intelligence platform. She contributes to a better understanding of workforce analytics customers. Lexy is known as the author of the Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey, annually tracking the adoption, deployment approaches, and value achieved from HR tech. She brings more than 40 years of thought leadership experience to People Analytics and HR tech industry. I’m inspired by her career achievements, but mostly by her choice to continue following her passion, in a new career chapter, after retirement.

Lillian Pierson (LinkedInTwitter)

Madhura Chakrabarti (LinkedIn)

“Using people analytics to enhance the employee experience and spur employees’ productivity on a daily basis, are certainly business imperatives.”
Madhura Chakrabarti, PhD is a Research Leader in Bersin by Deloitte. She is the person behind the well-known industry studies about People Analytics and Employee Engagement. Madhura designs and conducts these global studies, which span over thousands of organizations. She analyzes the data, publish research reports, and present her findings in conferences. Previously, Madhura led different People Analytics activities in Dell Inc. Her work has been published in Journal of Business and Psychology, and Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work.

Maja Luckos (LinkedInTwitter)

“We got all heads of business to see what we could do with real data. We basically wowed them.”
Maja Luckos is Head of People Analytics UK in Capgemini, a multicultural consulting firm of 200,000 team members in more than 40 countries. In her former role, as an HR Business Partner in Capgemini, Maja took a significant part in creating new approach to managing and using talent data – a classic case study that every People Analyst should learn, to better understand how data analysis helps to know the company’s workforce.

Mariëlle Sonnenberg (LinkedInTwitter)

“We need to get HR, people data and analysis right, as it impacts not only the business results, but employee lives.”
Mariëlle Sonnenberg, PhD is Global Head of HR Strategy & Analytics in Wolters Kluwer. Her job description is a guideline to any aspiring People Analytics leader: She builds global HR Analytics  capability. She leads multidisciplinary teams to provide insights for better business results. She conducts employee engagement surveys and delivers actionable insights for employee experience. Moreover, she oversees HR strategy including, benchmarking, predictive analytics, sustainability, public policy, advocacy, and communications across an employee population of 20K in 40 countries! Mariëlle is a University Professor and a lecture in well known events, where she contributes her valuable experience to the People Analytics community.

Michael Moon (LinkedInTwitter)

“HR should be responsible for setting the HR technology strategy – in partnership with IT.”
Michael Moon, PhD is People Insights Advisor at ADP and CEO & Principal Analyst in ExcelHRate, a Research and Advisory Services. She provides insights and solutions in human capital management through evidenced-based and research-driven processes. Michael’s research focus includes: performance management, employee engagement, technology use in the workplace, culture, learning, HR measurement and analytics, and social network analysis. She is passionate about finding a balance between growing a business and employee wellbeing.

Michelle Deneau  (LinkedIn)

“If the data is merely interesting, we are not doing our job. We need to deliver actionable insights, to drive better decisions.”
Michelle Deneau is Director of HR Business Intelligence at Intuit. She has been doing this for almost 8 years. This journey made her one of the most accomplished practitioners in the fields of People Analytics. I enjoyed listening to her interview, and learned about the long way from the traditional organizational surveys, through reporting tools, to the edge of predictive analytics. The challenges she describes, and the keys for success, are common to many organizations that adopt these practices.

Mico Yuk (LinkedInTwitter)

Natalie McCullough (LinkedInTwitter)

“Now that we hired the right people, how do we make sure that we get them to be most productive? That’s where behavioral data signals come in.”
Natalie McCullough is the General Manager of MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics at Microsoft. These tools use the data collected while we do our daily workplace routines to offer insights about productive ways to spend the day, to manage overloads, and to create focus times for flow and creativity. Natalie was Chief Revenue Officer at VoloMetrix, the company that pioneered the category of workplace analytics, and was acquired by Microsoft. Natalie offers great advise about how to start using data in your organization, how to use data to optimize your workforce, and many more People Analytics subjects.

Neta Meidav (LinkedInTwitter)

“Over time Blockchain technology will eliminate the harassment culture.”
Neta Meidav is co-founder of Vault, a counter-harassment platform for workplace, powered by Blockchain technology. Neta founded Vault to fix the problems of harassment recording and reporting, which are currently prevalent in organizations. She hopes that over time it will eliminate the harassment culture. The main innovation Neta offers in this system is the ability to inform users whether the name of the perpetrator was deposited by other users, along with a special way to securely submit complaints. This guarantees that serial harassers will be exposed to HR. I look forward to see this first Blockchain based, counter-harassment solution promote not only trust within organizations but mainly a safe culture of work.

Nicky Clement  (LinkedInTwitter)

“The real magic of creating business insight happens when you combine instinct and analytics.”
Nicky Clement leads the People Analytics, Organization Effectiveness and Workforce Planning agendas in Unilever. She is a Statistician by education, but for 18 years she was an HR business partner. Nicky shared Unilever analytics journey at the CIPD’s annual conference. Among her many achievements, I’m mostly inspired by the successful scaling of People Analytics impact through global HRBP community, ensuring to pass the passion for analytics on.

Orit (Schwarz) Cohen (LinkedIn)

Renee Teate (LinkedIn)

Sarah Nooravi (LinkedIn)

Sheri Feinzig  (LinkedInTwitter)

“Keeping the “human” in HR is a fundamental principle for successful People Analytics.”
Sheri Feinzig, Ph.D. is the Director of IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute, where she leads a global team of consultants and content development experts. She is co-author of the book “The Power of People: How Successful Organizations Use Workforce Analytics to Improve Business Performance” (with Nigel Guenole and Jonathan Ferrar). Any HR professional who wants to enrich her career with analytics competencies MUST read it. This useful book includes great conceptual schemes, which help me a lot when I explain People Analytics fundamentals to clients and prospects. Read Sheri’s interview in SHRM blog.

Shirin Glander  (LinkedInTwitter)

“I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate people who are involved in the R-community.”
Shirin Glander is “a biologist turned bioinformatician turned data scientist”. I stumbled into her blog one day, when I was looking for a piece of code in R, and immediately realized that I found a treasure! I hope to read everything she shares, not only in her blog, but also her contributions to R-bloggers. I owe so much to her, and to others, in the R community: People who write tutorials, share their knowledge in blogs, contribute packages, provide support in forums, and make R programming more accessible and easier.

Stacy Chapman (LinkedInTwitter)

“If we want to get to data-driven talent strategies and decisions (and we do!), we badly need to get rid of talent data silos.”
Stacy Chapman is the CEO and Co-Founder at SwoopTalent, a solution that uses AI-powered algorithms to automatically connect and verify talent data from internal and external sources, and enables a single access point to talent data. Stacy is an Australian entrepreneur who launched her startups in Silicon Valley. She is an expert in HR tech, and previously led the product strategy in PeopleSoft, for global Learning and Development apps. Stacy has offered data systems management and talent strategy coaching and consulting for organizations around the globe, and she serves as a senior fellow in HR research at The Conference Board.

Stela Lupushor (LinkedInTwitter)

“HR has the best problem to solve – bringing out the best in people. Tool-up and dare to solve them!”
Stela Lupushor is the founder of Reframe.Work, a consulting firm specialized in future-proof of workforce and work environment, in light of demographic shifts, disruptive technology, and human behavior evolution. Previously, Stela led the People Analytics functions at Fidelity Investments, TIAA and IBM, where she developed analytics capabilities across the organizations and enabled data-driven workforce decision making. Stela is the co-founder of the Strategic HR Analytics Meet-up group bringing together over 900 members in the NYC area to collaborate around people analytics. She is a thought leader that many of our colleagues nominated to be included in this list!

Subhadra Dutta (LinkedInTwitter)

“Making sure that we know what employees expect and the degree to which we’re living up to those expectations is incredibly important.”
Subhadra Dutta, Ph.D. is People Science Manager and Analytics Lead at Twitter. She leads the People Analytics team to drive metrics, advanced analytics, assessments and research for evidence-based people decisions and organizational effectiveness. Subhadra is Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with many fields of expertise: analytics, employee surveys, competency framework creation, selection, talent development, succession planning and research. She innovates in employee engagement analytics techniques, linking employee surveys to other HR and operational data, and using sentiment-analysis software to gauge how employees feel about their work.

Swati Chawla (LinkedIn)

“Apply HR Analytics to boost productivity and effectiveness.”
Swati Chawla is Head of HR Analytics, Strategy and Planning in Syngenta, a global agriculture company. She has been building a strong team and practices that has empowered over 300 HR professionals, and equipped senior business leaders with insights on people & organization structures and policies, linking HR strategy to the business direction. Throughout her career, Swati covered the globe! She worked in countries like Switzerland, India, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, North East Asia, UAE and Saudi Arabia. She has developed the ability to work across cultures, and now she contributes her experience to People Analytics practitioners all over the world in conferences and events.

Taemie Kim (LinkedIn)

“The ability to quantify social signals in face to face interaction combined with real-time visualization could open doors to change how people communicate.”
Taemie Kim, PhD is Co-Founder and Chief Scientist of Humanyze (Sociometric Solutions), a company which was born out of the MIT Media Lab, and offers People Analytics platform that analyzes corporate communication data collected by wearable sensing technology. Taemie is a global expert in collaborative technologies. She has published research articles about using sensor technology to capture collaboration forms. She received her Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab and her MS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. Watch her discussing the usage of social signal feedback to improve group communication and performance.

Talya N. Bauer (LinkedInTwitter)

Talya Bauer, PhD is Professor of Management at the Portland State University School of Business Administration, Co-Author of “Psychology and Work: Perspectives on Industrial and Organizational Psychology”, and consultant for government, Fortune 1,000 companies, start-up organizations. She is President of SIOP (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) and Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Psychology. However, I mention Talya for her contribution to People Analytics practices in her academic activities: She transformed an undergraduate course for Human Resource Management to “HRIS & People Analytics” and enabled students to apply their knowledge of psychological theory, business, communication, ethics, and employment law in actual problem solving by using data.

Tracey Smith (LinkedInTwitter)

Tracey Smith specializes in analytics (HR-People, supply chain, purchasing, quality, customer service, ops, profitability). She takes a hands-on approach to help companies apply analytics in a practical way. She has over 25 years of experience in mathematics, statistics and data visualization and holds degrees in Applied Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering and Business. Her blog Numerical Insights is a valuable resource, to learn how to turn data into results, as it covers plenty of subjects in People Analytics.

Littal Shemer Haim

Littal Shemer Haim

Littal Shemer Haim brings Data Science into HR activities, to guide organizations to base decision-making about people on data. Her vast experience in applied research, keen usage of statistical modeling, constant exposure to new technologies, and genuine interest in people’s lives, all led her to focus nowadays on HR Data Strategy, People Analytics, and Organizational Research.

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12 thoughts on “Challenge: 365 Women worth watching – in Data, People Analytics and HR Tech”

  1. Thanks Littal for including me. My nominees to the list: Naomi Bloom, Stacey Harris, China Gorman, Mollie Lombardi, Madeleine Tarquino, Trish McFarlane, Gretchen Alarcon, Leighanne Levensaler, Stela Lupishor. Happy to tell you why and make intros if needed.

  2. Pingback: 40+ Top Global Influencers in HR Tech of 2018 | Blogs

  3. Pingback: 40+ Top Global Influencers in HR Tech of 2018 – Digital HR Tech blog – Hire DB: Candidate Sourcing

  4. Pingback: 65+ Global Influencers in HR Tech to Follow in 2021 | AIHR

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