Author Spotlight: Keri Ohlrich, PhD

Transform Author Spotlight Series

Introducing our new Q&A Author Spotlight Series on the Transform blog, where we feature insightful authors who are redefining people and culture, work, leadership, and technology. Join us to gain fresh perspectives and practical knowledge from those at the forefront of today’s evolving professional landscape.

About The Author

Keri Ohlrich, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Abbracci Group, a boutique HR consulting firm on a mission to improve the environment of organizations which in turn improves the lives of employees.​ She has 20+ years on the front lines of the HR field and also co-hosts The Breakout podcast. As a Co-Founder of Abbracci Group and the Co-Author of The Way of the HR Warrior, she continues her mission to share insights from these experiences with others whose passion is to be the best in the HR arena.

Dr. Ohlrich’s diverse career includes leadership positions ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Before co-founding Abbracci Group, she played a pivotal role in redesigning and implementing HR processes, new business strategy management, and reshaping the HR department of an organization serving 25,000 global employees. She is certified in Prosci® change management methodology, personality assessment, Caliper, and the Denison Cultural Assessment.

Dr. Ohlrich earned her PhD in Human Development and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. She also holds an MS in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University, an MS in Global Human Resources from Loyola University Chicago, as well as a BS in Psychology and Business from Carnegie Mellon University.

Transform Author Spotlight: Keri Ohlrich, Ph.D., The Way of the HR Warrior

About The Book and the Inspiration Behind It

Q: Share with us the story behind the moment(s) that inspired you to write this book, The Way of the HR Warrior. 

A: I recall a conversation with my co-author, Monica Frede, where we discussed the significance of HR’s influence and the recurring theme of HR professionals aspiring to secure a coveted “seat at the table.”

What became apparent, however, was that despite this desire, the business seldom extended invitations to us for crucial meetings. Moreover, when we did find ourselves in those situations, it was evident that some HR professionals lacked the necessary skills to actively contribute.

In recognizing this gap, Monica and I discovered a common challenge within the HR community—we were urged to be present at the table, yet many professionals were uncertain about how to effectively navigate and contribute in that space. Rather than bemoaning this predicament, Monica and I resolved to embark on a journey to address it by writing a book.

Our goal is to provide valuable insights and guidance to fellow HR professionals, enabling them to not only secure a seat at the table but also to excel once they are there. We are committed to empowering the HR profession and contributing to its continued growth and success.

Q: Can you share a brief overview of your book, The Way of the HR Warrior?

A: The Way of the HR Warrior is a guide for HR professionals who really care to demonstrate the true power of the HR department to influence business strategy and the bottom line, especially in the changing landscape of business with a multi-generational and global workforce, the gig economy, the knowledge economy, the rise of conscious consumerism, and increasing regulations.

The list of challenges is long, but a common thread impacting the success of every business is its human capital. When management empowers their HR department and the HR professionals step up and master the fundamental competencies of their position, those who work up close and personal with people in the office can take up their rightful role as an HR Warrior!

An HR Warrior is courageous, humble, accurate, resilient, goal-oriented, and exemplary.

Alongside the practical advice in the book, readers will find real-life stories from myself and Monica about how we have applied the CHARGE® framework in our careers and organizations to great effect in our 25 years of experience as HR leaders working for small organizations, start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies.

Transform Author Spotlight: Keri Ohlrich, PhD

We bring a warm, purposeful, heart-centered toughness to the role of the HR professional that is both instructive and inspiring. Through our CHARGE framework, we share our tough-love approach to developing the core skills needed by HR professionals to become HR Warriors.

In this book, readers will:

  • See the potential impact they can have on their organizations
  • Identify ways to align their efforts with their organization’s business goals
  • Reveal areas for personal growth and professional development using self and workplace assessment tools
  • Be inspired by real stories from the front lines of human resources in a variety of work environments

Witty and brutally honest, this book is for anyone who makes HR their business.

Q: Could you share a memorable anecdote or story from your book, The Way of the HR Warrior?

A: One of the anecdotes revolves around the concept of being exemplary in HR leadership. It underscores the reality that HR leaders are constantly in the spotlight, and team members keenly observe their actions, readily discerning when HR fails to align words with deeds. This story recounted in my book, illustrates a particularly impactful incident involving an HR Vice President who neglected to address performance issues within their team.

The HR VP approached a Vice President of Marketing who was seeking advice on dealing with her underperforming team members. However, the response she received was a sobering revelation. The VP of Marketing, after politely listening, candidly remarked to the HR Business Partner, “Why should I follow the VP of HR’s counsel when they don’t even manage their team effectively?” This moment crystallized for me, as an HR professional, the stark realization of how our coaching and perceived value are intricately tied to the business’s perception of our managerial competence. It serves as a compelling reminder of the paramount importance of leading by example in the HR realm.

Q: What are the key points or thoughts you want to have the most impact on readers?

A: The CHARGE model, (Courage, Humility, Accuracy, Resilient, Goal-Oriented, and Exemplary), stands out as a highly impactful framework for readers. Its simplicity makes it a valuable tool for HR professionals and individuals focused on personal development, helping them with thoughtful reflection in various situations.

This model offers a clear pathway for strategic thinking. When faced with challenges, it prompts the consideration of whether to demonstrate Courage or Humility. It encourages the showcasing of Accuracy skills while aligning Goals with broader business objectives. Additionally, it prompts reflection on how to strengthen Resilience and Exemplify qualities that set a positive example.

In essence, the CHARGE model serves as an effective filter, guiding HR professionals and others in critical thinking. It aids in navigating the complexities of diverse scenarios, asking individuals to assess which elements of the model are most relevant and crucial in a given context. 

Q: As an author, what was the most rewarding part of researching and writing The Way of the HR Warrior?

A: The writing process brought joy and tears (it is hard work) and the most satisfying was the clarity it brought to our ideas and the formulation of a model designed to aid HR professionals. However, the true fulfillment is from witnessing the tangible impact our work has had on the HR profession.

Q: Describe the target audience for your book, The Way of the HR Warrior.

A: Although our initial target audience was primarily individuals within the HR field, we’ve been thrilled to discover that the CHARGE model has resonated with a broader audience. We’ve received feedback from numerous non-HR professionals who have found value in the model, using it to enhance their career development.

Keri Olrich, PhD, Co-Author, The Way of the HR Warrior

Q: Who would get the most value from reading your book?

A: Whether you’re aiming to advance your career within HR or looking to enhance your professional effectiveness beyond the HR domain, this book is tailored for you. If you’re genuinely seeking to reflect on and improve your responses to various situations, and enhance your overall impact in the workplace, then this book is a valuable resource for your personal and professional growth.

Q: What unique experience do you an author bring to this book, The Way of the HR Warrior, and its subject matter?

A: With over 25 years dedicated to the HR profession and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Organizational Systems, I have blended practical experience with academic expertise. Reflecting on my career journey, I recognize the profound impact a mentor could have had in navigating HR challenges and strategic thinking. This book, essentially a love letter to fellow HR professionals and anyone seeking personal development, aims to fill that mentoring void by offering insights and guidance for thoughtful career development and self-improvement.

Q: Are there any new projects or upcoming books you’re working on that you’d like to share a sneak peek of with our readers?

A: Absolutely! I am thrilled to announce that my business partner, Kelly Guenther, and I are currently writing a book that challenges societal expectations, encouraging readers to live life on their own terms.  “Whatever The Hell You Want: An Escape Plan to Break Out of Life’s Little Boxes and Live Free from Expectation,” is our book that aims to inspire individuals to forge their unique paths and break free from the constraints that they and others put on them. Released in June 2024.

About the Reader

Q: Describe what a leader/organization looks like one year after reading your book, The Way of the HR Warrior, and committing to its teachings. 

A: A year following reading the book, the HR leader is now operating at the distinguished level of an HR Warrior (or at least extremely close!). Having meticulously devised a development plan, the reader identified aspects of the CHARGE model to concentrate on and has actively implemented these ideas. Twelve months later, the reader exhibits increased self-confidence, significantly amplifying their impact on both employees and the organization as a whole. And, close to my heart, they are instrumental in reshaping the perception of HR to one of a Warrior. 

Q: Considering a reader who just finished your book and is processing all the great insights, what is the first step they should like to operationalize their learning?

A: Begin with a deep breath! There is a wealth of information provided in the book and each chapter concludes with thought-provoking questions aimed at guiding the reader in planning their next steps. After breathing,  the reader should reflect on whether they aspire to be an HR Warrior and committed to making a meaningful impact. If the answer is yes, it’s time to embark on the journey of crafting their personalized development plan.

Q: Share three takeaways from The Way of the HR Warrior that the reader should walk away with. 

A:

  1. They feel inspired to become a strong HR Warrior. 
  2. They can use a straightforward decision-making tool to help them CHARGE toward their goals.
  3. They know that HR is a powerful profession and they are needed and valued in the world. 

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