Coworkers

Coworking with Jâlie Cohen

Senior VP of HR in the Americas, the Adecco Group
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· 3 min read

On Wednesdays, we schedule our weekly 1:1 with HR Brew’s readers. Want to be featured in an upcoming edition? Click here to introduce yourself.

Jâlie Cohen is the SVP of HR in the Americas at staffing firm the Adecco Group. She had planned to join the United Nations Development Programme after graduating from law school, but felt it wasn’t the right time to work abroad after 9/11. Cohen decided to instead pursue a career in HR. She recently told HR Brew why she loves the problem-solving that comes with her job.

How would you describe your specific job to someone who doesn’t work in HR? I specialize in executive coaching, strategic planning, change management, conflict resolution, inclusive talent programs, and business transformations. I deeply believe the role of human resources [leader] is both an employee advocate and business partner, and try to lead under the premise that the two can successfully coexist while fostering a productive, innovative, and engaged workforce.

What’s the best change you’ve made at a place you’ve worked? In a previous company, I introduced “skip” and “skip-skip” level meetings. It was eye-opening for senior leaders to have direct access to frontline staff. It really shifted the culture from hierarchical to collaborative solutioning. Across the board, from the front lines to executive leadership, one of the biggest fallacies is solely relying on survey data, without having discussions to understand context. In HR, data is critical, but context is key! These skip and skip-skip meetings brought the data to life.

What’s the biggest misconception people might have about your job? People are shocked when they learn I start every decision by factoring in the needs of the client, consumer, and the shareholder. There are preconceived notions that HR people have no business sense or understanding of the end user, which could not be further from the truth. There is still such a gap in understanding the role of the function and the impact we drive.

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What’s the most fulfilling aspect of your job? Solutioning! In any way. I love adding impact and solutioning no matter how large or complex the issue. What I mean by “solutioning,” for me, is not only identifying what the thing is—whether it be a large, complex issue, whether it be social or work—and how we get to a resolution for that…it’s really taking the time to listen to understand what the issue actually is.

What trend in HR are you most optimistic about? Why? I am most optimistic about our current ability to reimagine the way we work, as well as the workforce’s updated perspective on flexibility. There is a new and exciting focus on really being inclusive by design, increasing collaboration, redefining productivity, and most important…prioritizing outcomes over processes.

Tell us one new or old HR tech product or platform that’s made your life easier, and why. Communication platforms like Microsoft Teams and Teams live events have been transformative. Having the ability to reach a global audience in real time has been a game-changer; it has enabled more frequent communication with individuals I may not have been able to easily access otherwise. I can host a fireside chat with eight countries in different time zones and create an intimate space for open dialogue. This has improved my work-life balance and also made it so much easier to access our people.

Want to be featured in an upcoming edition of Coworking? Click here to introduce yourself.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.