'It's all about alignment,' says Dow Jones chief people officer

Dianne DeSevo's strategy is alignment: putting the right people in the right roles to drive the business

'It's all about alignment,' says Dow Jones chief people officer

When Dianne DeSevo graduated, she wasn’t sure of her specific career path but was sure it would involve people.  

“My first job after college graduation was an HR assistant,” she tells HRD. Now, as the chief people office at Dow Jones and Company, her passion for HR has continued to grow.  As she tells HRD, DeSevo thrived when building relationships with her colleagues and networking with professionals, not only in the people space but across businesses.  

“I have been fortunate to do what I love right out of the gate.  Learning about people, their strengths, goals and participating in their career and personal evolution. Being a human resources professional allows you to build strong relationships and be a part of someone’s career journey. When people are satisfied in their jobs, the overall business flourishes.”

DeSevo trajectory wasn't always upward. Sometimes she moved sideways, and sometimes she climbed the ladder.

“Every job I landed, was a result of a personal connection that led me to that company, reminding me of the strength of networking.  It is ironic that the Dow Jones opportunity came through a headhunter, a person I didn’t know, but who had heard about me through my network.”

When asked about her team at Dow Jones, DeSevo says: “I oversee the people team, which includes HR, recruitment, compensation, benefits, organizational development strategy, operations, and more. Additionally, security and workplace evolution fall under my purview.”

DeSevo’s approach to HR is transformative. She emphasizes the importance of HR being viewed as a strategic partner to the business. “When I first started my career, HR was not strategically part of the business as it is today.  We have learned that people are the backbone to any business, so my focus is to create value for the overall business with HR being at the forefront.”

Her strategy is based on comprehension:  Seeing the full picture and all its pieces.  As she tells HRD, DeSevo believes that understanding the core of the business is crucial.

“Understanding all aspects of the business is crucial.  Seeing it from the perspective of all business functions. When I worked at ABC News, I made sure to spend time in the control room, go out on shoots, attend research meetings, so I could have a 360 degrees view.

Building strong teams is at the heart of DeSevo’s HR philosophy. Her recruitment strategy is based on placing the right person for the right role. 

“HR has both the operation and strategic component.  There are those professionals who are better at serving the administrative portion and then those who are more suited for the strategic function.”

DeSevo also emphasizes the importance of having a diverse skill set within the team and spending time building those teams.

“Building a team takes dedication.  My focus is on coaching people on their strengths and involving them in work where they will thrive. For example, creatives may feel drained with very tactical work.  It is knowing where people will feel energized in order to get the best contribution from them.  It all comes down to alignment.

DeSevo has been at the forefront of driving this kind of transformational change in many organizations. As such, she understands the importance of consulting your people throughout organizational changes.

“My philosophy is to bring people along for the change journey.  Not to force and change upon them but to make them a part of it. Instilling the sense of empowerment over their company function and overall careers.  Human resources is a people business and building trusting is very important.

Finally, DeSevo really stressed the importance of ensuring every employee understands how their work ties to the success of the company.

“Every and every employee counts. Everyone’s contribution is part of the company’s overall success.  We know that when people are doing work that is aligned with their interests, passions and especially their strengths it enables the company to succeed. It’s all about alignment.”

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