Ross Professor Named the Most Influential HR Thinker of the Past Decade


Dave Ulrich is a Michigan Ross institution — but his influence extends globally. Just ask the U.K.'s HR Magazine, whose recent research named Ulrich the most influential international HR thinker of the past decade. Widely recognized in the business community and in the Thinkers50 list as a highly impactful thought leader, Ulrich has risen to the top of HR Magazine's rankings nearly every year since they began in 2006, and he was honored with a lifetime achievement award in 2012, when he was called "the father of modern HR."

More Than 30 Years of Thought Leadership

Ulrich started his career at the University of Michigan in 1982, where he currently lends his wealth of expertise as faculty director of the Advanced Human Resource Executive Program. During that time, he's written more than 200 articles and book chapters, and authored or co-authored more than 30 books on HR (HR Champions, HR Value Proposition, HR Competencies, HR Transformation, HR Outside In, and Rise of HR); Leadership (The Leadership Code, Leadership Brand, Leadership in Asia, and the current Leadership Capital Index); and Organization (Organization Capability, GE Workout, Boundaryless Organization, and The Why of Work, a Wall Street Journal and USA Today No. 1 bestseller). Ulrich is also a partner at the RBL Group, a consulting firm focused on helping organizations and leaders deliver value.

"We are certainly proud of Dave for this outstanding accomplishment," says Melanie Weaver-Barnett, chief executive education officer. "His relentless pursuit of revolutionary concepts in leadership and HR have had immeasurable impacts on the global business community, and his thought leadership will undoubtedly continue to help steer organizations to success for years to come."

What's Happening Now in HR

In a feature in HR Magazine, Ulrich explains the shifting perspective of HR. "For 15 years, we have been saying that HR people look at the company strategy as a mirror and see a reflection of what they should do," he says. But now, it looks more like a window to the outside world.

Ulrich and his colleagues refer to the concept as "HR Outside-In." HR professionals need to look outside the organization and link strategy to external stakeholders such as customers, investors, communities, and regulators. This subtle, yet important shift in perspective redefines HR's value to the organization, which goes beyond people. For example, his new book Leadership Capital Index shows how investors can rigorously assess leadership as they value firms, a dramatic breakthrough for both investor valuation and leadership development.

Ulrich advocates that HR professionals should deliver talent, leadership, and culture as the outcomes of effective HR that help deliver business results.

What's Happening Next

Among Ulrich and his colleagues' many accomplishments is the Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS), the largest and longest-running study of HR practices worldwide. The HRCS has informed the HR profession for nearly 30 years and helped lead its transition from a largely administrative function to a strategic partner. The results of the 2015 study are in and will be revealed Oct. 8 at the Human Resource Competency Conference, which will be held right here at Ross.

"Wayne Brockbank and I are eagerly anticipating unveiling the HRCS results at the Human Resource Competency Conference with the study’s principal investigators Dave Kryscynski and Mike Ulrich," says Ulrich. "This event provides an exciting opportunity to engage around best practices in HR that will create lasting value for organizations around the world."

The Michigan Ross Advanced Human Resource Executive Program

Insights from the HRCS are applied to the curriculum of the Advanced Human Resource Executive Program (AHREP), which is offered as the top HR open enrollment executive education program. AHREP attracts senior-level professionals from around the world ― it's not uncommon to have participants from five different countries sitting at one table. As faculty director, Ulrich facilitates the two-week program alongside Dick Beatty and Wayne Brockbank. The highly interactive program encourages participants to utilize new concepts through experiential learning exercises with peers.

Ulrich's passion for HR is contagious. AHREP participants are as engaged in his frameworks as his anecdotes, and they leave the program inspired and energized. Ulrich is often treated to a celebrity send-off ― a standing ovation, a couple quick book signings ― but he's not in it for the recognition. Ulrich's mission is to leverage the power of HR to strengthen organizations. As he told HR Magazine, "I just want to keep learning what's next and keep asking: How do you get an organization right, and how do you create an organization that works better?"

Attend the Human Resource Competency Conference

Learn more about the Advanced Human Resource Executive Program

Connect with Michigan Ross        

Subscribe to FTMBA Email Alerts


By submitting your information, you agree to receive email from Michigan Ross. Your information will be kept confidential and you can unsubscribe at any time.