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Graduate Programs Blog

Graduate Programs Blog

LeAnne Smith shares how EMHRM helped her go from a strategy lead to SVP

LeeAnn Smith Headshot

LeAnne Smith, SVP of Talent Management and Development at McKesson, was part of the inaugural cohort of the EMHRM program in 2016. At the time, she worked as a Talent Strategy Lead at Accenture. We interviewed her to see how much has changed for her in the five years since graduation. 

Why did you choose such a program? And why Cornell’s?

I started my career in consulting at Accenture (Anderson Consulting at the time) and grew into internal HR roles after implementing several Human Capital and HR Technology solutions with clients. So my HR experience was learned on the job. Even though I had grown into a seasoned HR leader through my experiences, I aspired to achieve an advanced degree. With a demanding job and two small kids at home I didn’t think it would ever be possible. The EMHRM program from Cornell was the perfect solution – an advanced degree from the leading institute that was tailored to seasoned executives in a blended learning environment. What more could you ask for?

What did you find most valuable about the program?

Access to the educators and thought leaders that were brought in as part of the program, relationships built with others in the industry, and knowledge sharing across an amazingly talented cohort of individuals from diverse backgrounds, industries and corporations.

How did it change you?

The program opened my eyes to the full scope and evolution of the HR function. It also filled in key gaps in my experiences thus far – labor relations and executive compensation for example.

What impact has it had on your career?

Achieving a degree from the Cornell ILR EMHRM program has been instrumental in rounding out my expertise and education across the full scope of the HR function. I was able to build my knowledge in areas where I had not yet had direct experience which has provided an excellent foundation as I’ve changed roles many times since my graduation. When in the program, I was North America Talent Strategy Lead, Accenture. Then as follows:

Midwest Region HR Lead, Accenture

Chief People Officer, Corporate Functions, Walmart

SVP, Talent Management & Development, McKesson

Do you have continuing relationships with members of your cohort? With Cornell faculty?

Yes, I’ve called on several of my cohort members over the past several years for recommendations and referrals. I’ve stayed in touch with some faculty members and continue to be a strong proponent of CAHRS as well.