People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 69
CHRO Connection: J. Scott Boston
Kimberly-Clark Senior Vice President and CHRO Scott Boston, who oversaw the
implementation of the company's K-C Behaviors worldwide internal initiative, spoke with
HR People + Strategy Executive Director Lisa Connell about the role HR plays in driving
culture at Kimberly-Clark.
At Kimberly-Clark, Culture Is Nothing to Sneeze at
Lisa Connell: How did you get into HR?
Scott Boston: In college, I worked
in a reproductive biology lab at a
research center. After I changed my
major to business, I went to work in
the HR department of the center. I
really enjoyed the work and endless
variety of issues and topics that were
covered. Two years later, I graduated
and went to IBM in sales, but I was still
gravitating toward HR. So I went over
to AT&T, which had just split off from
BellSouth and needed HR people to
help facilitate its transition. I've always
excelled at science, so I come to HR
from a very analytical angle. It's great to
think a program has value, but I want
to be able to prove it does. In HR, that
science part of me always shows up. I
like to say, "In god we trust; all others
must bring data."
LC: What are some key takeaways from
your previous roles that have set you up
for this one?
SB: While it is great to have a broad
knowledge base, you have to leverage
subject-matter experts to create value.
No one can do it all or know it all
because our disciplines are changing
swiftly. The legacy you leave is in what
you have done for the people of the
company you worked with.
The strategic piece and the creation of
things I used to do, I can't do anymore.
I can shape things, but not to the
degree that I once did. I am not in the
middle of it all anymore. Along with the
CEO, COO, and the broader executive
team, I am shaping the direction of
where we want to company to go.
Kimberly-Clark is a 145-year-old
company and highly respected in
the consumer products category,
the community, globally, and among
the causes we support. For me, it's
important that HR creates value for
people by employing really pragmatic
solutions that make a difference to
the business. I never want to be an
HR person who inflicts programs on
others that we wouldn't use ourselves.
You see this a lot with performance
management, where a PM program
is put in place, but HR doesn't use
it to measure themselves. I also want
everything we do and implement to
be understood by a line leader, which
means we use plain, direct language. By
doing this, we are able to support our
business leaders to get better results.
LC: What advice do you have for an HR
leader who wants to advance their
SB: Be flexible and never stop learning.
Don't just eye the one job that you
have to have and ignore everything else
you are offered along the way. Take
opportunities as they come along to
learn new things and gain exposure to
other parts of a business to broaden
your skill set and point of view. When I
coach talent, I see so many people hitch
their wagon to one role and say, "I only
NAME: J. SCOTT BOSTON
TITLE: SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF
HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER
FORTUNE 500 RANK: 151
2016 REVENUE: $18.2 BILLION
ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF KLEENEX:
DISPOSABLE FACE TOWEL
K-C'S FIVE "BILLION DOLLAR" BRANDS:
KLEENEX, HUGGIES, COTTONELLE, SCOTT,
want to be this," and then that role is
gone. People limit themselves when
they become laser-focused on someone
who they want to be, and that person
may have gotten to where they are
there through a different path, but the
job goes away or it's not for their skill
set, and they've lost other opportunities
along the way. Take opportunities, even
the ones to move laterally.
LC: How do you think the role of CHRO
is going to change in the next ﬁve years?
VOLUME 40 | ISSUE 3 | SUMMER 2017