Governing Body Spotlight

Governing Body Member of the Minneapolis CHRO Community

Kendall Harrell

Chief People Officer

Caribou Coffee

Kendall Harrell is the Chief People Officer for Caribou Coffee, a privately owned coffee company based out of Minneapolis, MN. In his role, Kendall leads the strategic direction of People & Culture, Learning & Development, and Total Rewards. His 20 years of experience spans multiple industries in the Twin Cities. Additionally, he sits on the Board of Directors for StatusNow, a workforce enablement software company.

Learn more about leaders in the Minneapolis CHRO community here.

Give us a brief overview of the path that led to your current role.

My career path was one where I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors and leaders along the way.  Starting in the fitness industry, I learned that I had an affinity for training and development.  Making the decision to build deeper knowledge in adult learning, I realized how to use this new skill in many aspects of developing people, and human resources became a new home for me professionally. 

All along my career path, Caribou Coffee had always been a place of inspiration for me and a good change of environment to work - and ultimately a company that hit my "short list". In 2018, the opportunity presented itself at the right time. Since day one, I have been able to reach a few of my career goals and I work with incredibly smart, fun, and dedicated people.

What is one of your guiding leadership principles?

Bring others along. This was a credo from my father and it is exactly what I feel my role is as a leader - to help others achieve and realize their goals.

With disruption being a key theme of the past year, where do you see your role as a CHRO going in the next 1-2 years?

The last few years have taught us that disruption and innovation, to a great extent, has been neglected in our space. Our seat at the table has not been more important than it is today in leading a successful company. The functional areas we lead have been notoriously antiquated and closed off. Our opportunity will be figuring out how we can reimagine our practice as we lead and operate with more transparency than ever before.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the role as a CHRO?

This position can easily become extremely isolating unless you actively work to not make it one.  Learn to take full advantage of your board's knowledge and expertise. I would also advise that your CEO must see you as a truth-teller and trusted advisor.

Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.

  1. I play men's league baseball. I still get excited every game day!
  2. Our family (my parents) have provided a home to approximately 90 foster children over the years.
  3. My dream would be to collect cars from the 60s and 70s.

What is the value of joining an Evanta community?

I really appreciate the caliber of executives I have interacted with. The broad perspectives of the community is wonderful.


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