Tracie Sponenberg: From Paper-First to People-First
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Tracie Sponenberg is a seasoned HR executive and business leader who has transformed from a compliance-focused "paper-pusher" to a people-first Chief People Officer. With nearly 30 years of experience across various industries, she specializes in aligning people strategies with business objectives to drive growth, enhance culture, and create exceptional employee experiences.

Extensive Executive HR Experience

Tracie Sponenberg has nearly three decades of experience in human resources, with much of her career focused on working with CEOs to develop people strategies that enhance culture and drive organizational growth. She has led the HR function at various companies, including an award-winning multi-state professional services firm, a Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper and publishing company, and a national private-equity owned wellness distribution and technology company. As the Chief People Officer of The Granite Group Wholesalers LLC, Sponenberg was responsible for leading all People functions across 60+ locations and over 700 team members, partnering with the executive team to navigate acquisitions, a global pandemic, technology transformations, and the evolution of the HR department into an award-winning People Team.
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Tracie Sponenberg: Sought-After Speaker

Tracie Sponenberg is a sought-after global speaker on HR, leadership, technology, and business issues. She has delivered keynote speeches, hosted events, and moderated panels at various conferences and industry events. Some of her recent speaking engagements include Transform, where she spoke as the Founder & Chief People Officer at Tracie Sponenberg LLC. Sponenberg has also presented sessions on topics such as "Transforming HR" and "The Innovation Paradox" at the Maine HR Convention. Her HR expertise has been featured on the BBC, NPR, and in publications including USA Today, US News and World Report, Employee Benefits News, Chicago Sun-Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Sponenberg's speaking profile highlights her ability to engage audiences on a wide range of subjects related to HR, leadership, branding, and technology.
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Transforming HR: From Compliance to People-First Leadership

Tracie Sponenberg's journey in HR showcases her transformation from a compliance-first "HR lady" to a business executive who leads with a people-first approach. Early in her career, she realized HR was more than just an administrative function and could be a true business partner. Sponenberg believes HR professionals must view themselves as confident business executives to be seen that way by their organizations. By embracing the importance of learning about the business, technology, relationships, and always putting people before profits, she has helped transform HR teams into strategic, people-focused departments that drive business success.
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Awards and Accolades

Tracie Sponenberg has received numerous accolades and recognition for her expertise and contributions to the HR field. She was the recipient of the 2019 GSHRC Ry Perry HR Hero Award, named one of the 2020 "35 Employer Branding Experts" by Eightfold.ai, and included in the 2022 Most Inclusive Influencer List. Sponenberg has also been recognized as one of the Top 100 Global Thought Leaders by PeopleHum, one of 22 Innovative HR Leaders to Follow by AIHR, and one of 20 Chief People Officers to follow by Skedda. Additionally, she is a two-time Top 101 Engagement Influencers by Inspiring Workplaces and a three-time top 50 Global HR Professionals by The OnCon Icon Awards. These testimonials and awards showcase Sponenberg's significant impact and thought leadership in the HR community.
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Navigating HR Challenges During a Global Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for HR professionals, requiring them to navigate uncharted territory while supporting employees and businesses. Key challenges include managing a remote workforce, ensuring employee health and safety, and adapting to rapidly changing regulations. HR leaders have had to develop new strategies for virtual hiring, onboarding, and performance management, while also prioritizing employee mental health and well-being. The pandemic has highlighted the critical role of HR in managing uncertainty, facilitating global work, and redefining organizational performance. As businesses adapt to the post-pandemic landscape, HR professionals must continue to demonstrate agility, resilience, and a people-first approach to successfully navigate the ongoing challenges and drive long-term success.
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Featured HR Expert

Tracie Sponenberg has been featured in numerous media outlets, sharing her HR expertise and insights on various topics. Her articles have appeared in CIO Review Magazine, Supply House Times, ASA Review, HR Jolt, and HR Tech Outlook. Sponenberg has also been a guest on numerous HR podcasts and interview series, including the SHRM HR Storytellers podcast, where she discussed taking innovative steps to protect essential employees during the coronavirus pandemic. Her HR expertise has been featured on major media outlets such as the BBC, NPR, and in publications including USA Today, US News and World Report, Employee Benefits News, Chicago Sun-Times, and The Wall Street Journal. These media appearances demonstrate Sponenberg's credibility and influence as a thought leader in the HR industry, as she shares her knowledge and experiences to help others navigate the ever-evolving landscape of human resources management.
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Fractional CPO and Advisor

Tracie Sponenberg offers fractional Chief People Officer services and advisory roles to help organizations align their people strategy with their business objectives. As a fractional executive, she partners with CEOs and HR teams to provide thought leadership, strategy development, and upskilling of HR professionals. Sponenberg's long-term partnerships focus on transforming compliance-focused HR teams into strategic, people-first departments that drive business success. She also offers one-time consulting sessions to address specific issues, provide light coaching, or review products. With her extensive experience and expertise, Sponenberg helps organizations create unique employee experiences and foster supportive, growth-oriented cultures.
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The Role of Technology in Modern HR Practices

Technology plays an increasingly vital role in modern HR practices, streamlining processes and enhancing efficiency. HR tech solutions automate tasks such as employee scheduling, tracking, and data analysis, enabling HR professionals to make data-driven decisions. Mobile apps and social media platforms have transformed recruitment and employee engagement, allowing for seamless communication and a better candidate experience. Additionally, digital learning platforms support continuous employee development and training, fostering a culture of growth within organizations. By leveraging AI, machine learning, and cloud-based systems, HR departments can optimize their workflows, improve decision-making, and focus on strategic initiatives that drive business success.
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Tracie Sponenberg's Podcast Features

Tracie Sponenberg has been a guest on several HR-focused podcasts, sharing her insights and experiences as a people-first business leader. Some of her notable podcast appearances include:
  • HR Rebooted Podcast with Michelle Strasburger, where Sponenberg connected with Katharine Halpin to discuss how HR professionals can take the lead in creating an inclusive culture.
  • Bite Size HR podcast, hosted by Chicago SHRM volunteers Frank Laterza and Hanna Durocher. In this episode, Sponenberg discussed several ways to transform transactional HR into strategic HR.
  • Advantage Performance's "Get out of your HR comfort zone" podcast, where Sponenberg shared her journey of becoming a people-first business leader and how getting uncomfortable changed her life for the better. She emphasized the importance of self-awareness in building a better career for oneself and teaching employees to do the same.
Through these podcast appearances, Sponenberg shares her expertise on various HR topics, including leadership, culture, inclusion, and the transformation of HR from a compliance-focused function to a strategic, people-centric role. Her engaging and insightful discussions help listeners become more successful in their own jobs and accelerate their careers in talent development.
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