10 people and culture influencers you should follow on LinkedIn
Engagement 8 minute read

10 people and culture influencers you should follow on LinkedIn

Rise | February 9, 2017

We recently took to Twitter to get the who’s who of industry gurus every aspiring Director of People and Culture or HR should follow. Today, we’re looking at Linkedin. Who are the influencers you need to know about?

If you want to read innovative Pulse posts or an example of how to make the most of Linkedin, search no further: Rise has your back. And so do these all-star people and culture professionals, who prove Linkedin is more valuable than you may have ever imagined.

Tanya Kensington, Mobify

Mobify is one of the fastest-growing startups in the e-commerce space—so it makes sense that their recruiting practices are forward-thinking and proactive as well. “Our talent team does a ton of direct sourcing,” says People and Culture Director Tanya Kensington. “They’re on Linkedin every day reviewing candidates … for last quarter, our talent team did 595 searches, reviewed 1,600 profiles, and sent 110 InMails!”

What are they looking for?

“We want to see candidates with detailed profiles showcasing their skills and experience, but also their personality and passions,” Kensington says. Her own profile provides the perfect model. Detailed but personable, it provides a thorough accounting of Kensington’s 15 years in the field, while offering a glimpse of her adventurous personality (she has slept on a Vietnamese junk boat and snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef!). Most impressive, however, are the numerous recommendations Kensington has received from former colleagues. “HR is a strategic partner, but with an element of customer service,” Kensington explains of those reviews. “Operating with speed, accuracy, integrity, and knowledge, you build trust and relationships—so when you ask people for an endorsement, they don’t hesitate.”

Dr. Bill Howatt, Morneau Shepell

Dr. Howatt shares his own original content on Linkedin, like “Stress Load and Its Impact on Employees” or “Coaching: A Power Tool for Developing Leaders.” Bonus: they come without a hard sales pitch, as Howatt is interested in collegiality, pure and simple. “Too many blogs are trying to sell something,” he says. “I encourage sharing information that provides insight and tools that can be applied.”

Follow him for compelling content that covers a wide scope of people and culture questions and concerns. We recommend beginning with “Why Business Leaders Profit from Mental Health Literacy,” Dr. Howatt’s own favourite article. And if you’re feeling inspired, why not pen your own Pulse post? “Writing ideas down helps crystalize one’s thinking,” Dr. Howatt says. And sharing it on social media is also valuable: “Testing ideas with like-minded professionals is a best practice to see if those ideas hold water.”

Kris Dunn, Kinetix

Kris Dunn founded HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent, so it’s clear that he knows how to build an online community. Linkedin offers further proof of this people and culture expert’s networking skills. Like Fullerton, he is a member of the HR Executive Network, along with groups like T Squared and Fail Spectacularly.

Looking to write a personal summary that’s both impressive and approachable? You’d do well to follow Dunn’s example. “Here are the stats,” the CHRO writes. “Three degrees. One marriage. An SPHR that’s been recertified twice. 2,000+ hires. 1,000+ fires. A taste for grunge music originating from Seattle. Two turntables. One microphone.” It’s clear from those few lines that Dunn knows what he is doing … but you also get a sense of who he is when not at work. These days, that’s almost equally important—as anyone interested in the question of company culture can tell you.

Cheryl Fullerton, Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

This is one leader committed to the learning process: “Maple Leaf Foods is an amazing organisation if you’re really driven to master things, and then put up your hand and ask for more and craft your own career path,” Fullerton told HR Professional last year. One look at her Linkedin profile proves that continued commitment to personal growth. Fullerton follows Jeff Weiner and Lou Adler on the social media platform and is a member of groups like the HR Executive Network or TalentCulture: Social World of Work.

Fullerton’s only post—published in August of this year—is called “Don’t be Ridiculous.” It’s refreshingly honest, a look at how her perspective has changed after years of working in people and culture. We love the empowering message—“think big in career goals”—and Fullerton’s genuine respect for the mentorship process. We’re following this industry expert to see what she publishes next!

David Hassell, 15Five

15Five was created to boost employee engagement: the online tool provides an easy platform for team members to quickly and informally give feedback to their managers. It’s a huge innovation in the performance management field and people and culture more generally. So it’s no surprise to us that David Hassell, 15Five’s CEO, is super connected when it comes to resources on Linkedin.

Consider one of Hassell’s most provocative Pulse posts: “Human Resources, Your Days Are Numbered.” Don’t worry—it’s not what you think! Like Rise, Hassell disagrees with an approach that treats people as a commodity…and given the recent move to ‘people and culture’ titles over HR ones, we’re not alone. Hassell offers his own take on the current state of the profession but also curates compelling content from other thought leaders. His Linkedin page is definitely worth a follow.

Dr. John Sullivan, San Francisco State University

If you follow the Rise blog, you know that we’re keenly interested in the latest research of thought leader, Dr. John Sullivan. Turns out his Linkedin profile is as on point as his research. Check out his skills list—many have been endorsed by over 100 different people!

The main reason to follow Dr. Sullivan, however, is to stay apprised of his latest publications. Pieces like “Passive Candidates” overhaul conventional HR ideas: “They’re not passive, nor are they candidates,” reads this post’s subtitle, a bold statement that Dr. Sullivan backs up with aplomb His content covers a myriad of concerns: “A Checklist For a Smooth Exit,” for example, gives enterprising people and culture professionals a roadmap for how to move on from a company without making any enemies.


O’Donnell is one of the few granted Linkedin’s official ‘influencer’ title … so you can bet she’s active on this social platform. Sure enough, a quick glance at her publication record shows she is a frequent poster, with articles often only a few days apart. But O’Donnell doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Every pulse post is engaging, thorough, and thoughtfully composed. A few of our favourites? “My Rookie Mistake Seeking Mentors (and How I Fixed It),” and “7 Best Ways to Customize a ‘Connect Request.’”

So who is this Linkedin leader? She’s the CEO of CAREERREALISM, a columnist for Inc. magazine, and an advisor for branded.me. Basically, O’Donnell knows everything there is to know about team member recruitment and retention, not to mention personal branding. Any aspiring people and culture superstar should make sure that she’s on their radar. Click that follow button!

Sharlyn Lauby, HR Bartender

Sharlyn Lauby, author of the popular people and culture blog, HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a South Florida-based HR resources consulting firm focused on working with companies to retain and engage employees."

Lauby writes about professional development, payroll, Twitter for recruitment, and much more. We know you'll love reading her LinkedIn articles and her blog.

Laszlo Bock, Google

Another one of Linkedin’s influencers, Bock is the head of People Operations at Google—which means he’s one well-connected guy. We love his straightforward, pull-no-punches content (like us, Bock is no fan of resumes) and honest insight into one of today’s most advanced companies.

With Bock leading the charge, Google is a regular on round-ups of the best places to work. He has also completely overhauled the company’s hiring process. These days, 80% of rejected candidates would still suggest a friend apply to Google. That’s a pretty impressive statistic, and it’s a direct result of changes implemented under Bock. So when he has advice to share, we listen up—and happily, Linkedin lets us know whenever he has something new to say.

Liz Ryan, Human Workplace

We’re just going to come right out and say it: Rise loves Liz Ryan. So do her almost Linkedin 700,000 followers, and it’s easy to see why. This people and culture pro earned her ‘influencer’ title with tons of original, thought-provoking content (all charmingly illustrated by Ryan herself). Ryan covers everything from “spineless suck-ups” and personal branding mistakes to compensation questions and interviewing techniques. Check out just one of her engaging stories—you’re sure to be hooked.

Wondering where to begin? We recommend “Where Is the Line Between Branding and Bragging?” The Pulse post is characteristic of Ryan’s unique voice and approach.

Networking isn’t what it used to be—and that’s a good thing. With Linkedin, you can connect with culture influencers and experts in different cities or countries, people who have the potential to transform your entire approach to everything from team recruitment and engagement to diversity practices and wellness initiatives. Why not shake up the status quo, starting today? Begin by following these people and culture influencers for updates and insight. Soon enough, that person in your newsfeed just might be a real connection. Now that’s networking!

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