The world of Human Resources (HR) is a vast landscape teeming with diverse career paths and specialties. Choosing the right trajectory within this dynamic field can be a pivotal challenge, often prompting the question: “What is your passion?” Dr. Gerri Wilson Wright, in an illuminating session hosted by the Forbes School of Business and Technology (FBST) Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), delved into navigating the myriad HR career options and finding your authentic fit.


Assessing Your Passion

To embark on this journey, introspection becomes key. What excites and fuels your drive? What elements are imperative for your professional fulfillment? These queries serve as guiding beacons in the decision-making process.


Mapping the HR Landscape

HR unfolds into distinct categories, delineated into four primary groups:

1. Service Provider: Building Foundations

Roles within shared service centers constitute the realm of Service Providers. Occupying junior or middle-manager positions, these roles encompass HR Administrators, Payroll Managers, and Benefits Managers. Key skills revolve around customer focus, data translation, and adeptness with HR technologies. Proficiency in compensation, payroll, and agile methodology marks the functional competencies in this domain.

2. Solution Provider: Fostering Growth

Global centers of excellence are the hub for Solution Providers, often comprising Learning & Development Specialists, Talent Acquisition Specialists, and DEIB Consultants. This domain prioritizes contextualizing HR trends, fostering digital cultures, and leveraging knowledge for tangible business impact. Specialized competencies span Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, change management, and talent acquisition.

3. Advisory Provider: Nurturing Expertise

Advisory Providers, embodied by HR Officers and HR Business Partners, serve as HR stalwarts offering contextually relevant counsel. Proficiency in commercial awareness, data-driven HR, and stakeholder alignment distinguishes this realm. Functional competencies encompass HR consulting, networking, and storytelling prowess.

4. Strategic Provider: Steering Vision

Strategic Providers, occupying leadership positions like CHROs or Heads of Talent, steer HR strategies with data-driven insights while championing organizational values. Mastery in data literacy, advocacy for people, and visionary leadership characterize this domain. Competencies span HR strategy, leadership, and ethical stewardship.


Equipping Yourself: Core HR Competencies

Regardless of the chosen path, nurturing core HR competencies is pivotal:

  • Business Acumen: Understanding external trends and aligning HR with business strategy.
  • Data Literacy: Translating and communicating data to influence decisions.
  • Digital Dexterity: Leveraging technology for impactful employee experiences.
  • People Advocacy: Fostering inclusive cultures and ethical organizational conduct.


Navigating Your Journey

The path you choose dictates the amalgamation of core competencies and specialized skill sets. However, it’s crucial to cultivate versatility for seamless transitions between roles and organizations. Specializing in a functional competency while becoming a generalist in core HR skills ensures a robust foundation for growth.



In the labyrinth of HR career paths, introspection serves as a guiding beacon. Armed with insights from Dr. Gerri Wilson Wright’s session, understanding the nuances between Service, Solution, Advisory, and Strategic roles become pivotal. With a profound grasp of core competencies and specialized skills, individuals can embark on a purpose-driven journey toward their ideal HR career path, poised to make a meaningful impact in the dynamic world of Human Resources.


Rachel Cardwell

Director of Communications & Social Media

Forbes School of Business & Technology SHRM Chapter