Jean-Rene Zetrenne – Leadership Board Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I've spent the majority of my career working in the Human Resources and Talent functions of organizations. Currently, I am Chief Talent Officer of North America for a global advertising, marketing and public relations agency called Ogilvy & Mather. Throughout my career, it has been quite clear to me that the people side of business is where I belonged. People are the same at every company I've worked for, from Gillette to Accenture to Pepsico to L'oreal. They all want to contribute to something bigger than themselves, make powerful connections with others, and feel a sense of belonging and fulfillment. The fact that I get to partner with employees every day to do just that is an honor.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
My team and I support thousands of employees from their first day of employment until their last. There's nothing more that I enjoy than helping individuals grow over the course of their tenure with an organization. The biggest challenge is that with so many employees, it's impossible for me to develop deep relationships with everyone.

Another challenge is the fact that we have 4 different generations in the workplace today. One-size-fits all strategies do not work anymore. We are continually striving to develop bespoke training and engagement programs that motivate and support each cohort.

Finally, I've always got my eye on the future. Like every decade before, it's sometimes difficult to predict what the jobs of the future will look like. Our business now has unique positions such as User Experience Designers that were obsolete in our business 5-10 years ago. So, I'm always staying on top of the new types of talent that we will likely need to have on staff to remain competitive.

What is your proudest achievement?
I'm proud of many things I've accomplished at my different employers. At Ogilvy & Mather, the leadership team worked to secure a spot on Advertising Age’s “Best Places to Work” list, the only large global agency to do so. We set this goal for ourselves and made happen.  There had never been a big agency on this list before and we were very proud of this accomplishment.

Our employees create communications for some of the world's best known brands. I'm very proud of what we do to ensure that everyone - from Account Management, Strategy, Creative, Digital or Production to name a few - have what they need to do the best work of their lives.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
I've developed a recent admiration for Charles Day from The Looking Glass. He recently published a short piece in Fast Company that highlighted the drivers of what he calls Profitable Creativity. I'm drawn to his wisdom about our increasingly complex business and what it takes to make money as a creativity company in today's marketplace.

I'm intrigued by the powerful conversation that Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook has started about women (and men) and how they might think about being even more successful in the workplace. She's inspired many people to be in inquiry around a topic that I think needed more front and center attention.

Finally, Ken Chenault is always an inspiration to me. I'm always monitoring the tremendous impact and success he has had as the CEO of American Express. I'm especially proud that my agency plays a major role in helping steward his brand in the marketplace.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
If I haven't won the lottery and retired, I definitely plan to still be working in Talent, perhaps in a global or consultative role.

Did you have a mentor or do you mentor someone else?
I'm been lucky to have mentors at every company I've worked for. Either they were assigned to me or I went and sought them out.

How has that experience changed you?
There have been so many powerful lessons that I've learned from my mentors over the years. I learned the importance of having a strong and well-informed point of view and how and when to share it. The importance of becoming a trusted advisor throughout the company was an early lesson. Finally, a mentor shared the importance of having a deep understanding of the network of people who make up an organization and how to build and nurture robust relationships with key players.

How has your participation on the Leadership Board impacted the way you approach your day-to-day role?
The Leadership Board has reinforced the importance of building a powerful network of professionals who can be leveraged for professional growth. I'm always so appreciative of all the benefits I've enjoyed from being part of this organization.