Below are featured members of the Connected Commons sharing how they are exploring and applying social network analysis and science to create a more agile organization, enhance leadership that enables their talent and delivers breakthrough levels of innovation. Additional perspectives are available to members in the Member Perspectives.

Video Perspectives


Learn about what it means to be an agile organization

Michael Arena, Chief Talent Officer, General Motors
Chris Ernst, Global Head of People & Organization Potential,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Greg Pryor, VP, Leadership & Organization Effectiveness, Workday

Learn about how Workday leverages Connections as one the Five Factors that make up their Talent Strategy

Greg Pryor

VP, Leadership & Organization Effectiveness, Workday

Highlighted Commons Members


Michael Arena
Chief Talent Officer

General Motors Corporation

Current Role & Responsibilities

Michael is the Chief Talent Officer for General Motors Corporation. He is responsible for global talent acquisition, people analytics, enterprise talent management, leadership development and global learning. Since joining General Motors, he has employed an evidence-based approach to driving performance, leveraging such concepts as predictive analytics and network analysis.  He also launched GM2020, a grass roots initiative designed to enable employees to positively disrupt the way they work, which was highlighted in Fast Company. Michael also teaches in Penn’s Masters in Organizational Dynamics program and acts as a design thinking coach within the Stanford dSchool.

Leading the Application of Network Science

Michael and his team at GM have aggressively leveraged organizational network analysis on such topics as organizational alignment, business growth strategies, emergent innovation and collaborative overload. The most significant advancement has been in the area of Adaptive Space, which uses network theory to enable specific connections for adaptation. Most notably, the intentional use of such network roles as brokers, connectors, energizers and challengers to enhance agility. These practices are highlighted in Michael’s book, Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations.

Connected Commons Role & Research

Michael is a founding member of the Connected Commons and has contributed to the creation of research and resources. In 2017, Michael co-authored the Connected Commons research “How to Catalyze Innovation in Your Organization”, featured in the Summer edition of Sloan Management Review. He is also the author of the research on adaptation that won the 2017 Walker Prize from People + Strategy.

Previous Roles

Prior to GM, Michael spent two years as a visiting scientist within MIT’s Media Lab, Human Dynamic research space. He also served as Senior Vice President of Leadership Development at Bank of America.


Arun Chidambaram
Global Head Talent Analytics


Arun leads talent analytics at Pfizer, a Fortune 100 organization. Through active and close partnerships with the CEO, CHRO, business leaders and external think tanks, Arun establishes objectives essential to the delivery and success of analytics programs. His main area of focus is building and sustaining analytical capability within HR. Arun has deep experience in quantitative and visualization methodologies, advanced analytics and research, experimentation and modelling, building collaborative and strong relationships across matrix organizations, and driving key business strategies and organizational change initiatives through workforce insights.

He has a background in Industrial Engineering & Operations Research with 20 plus years of experience in management, consulting, and human resources in positions of increasing responsibility. Prior to joining Pfizer, he held engineering and HR leadership positions at Harley Davidson, Merck, and ESPN.


Debra R. France
Drives Leadership and Innovator Development

W. L. Gore & Associates

Current Role & Responsibilities

Debra drives leadership and innovator development for W. L. Gore & Associates, a global materials science company known for innovation and solving complex technical challenges in demanding environments, with products that include GORE-TEX® fabrics, medical devices; aerospace, pharmaceutical and mobile electronics solutions.  Gore has always operated as a low-hierarchy “lattice” organization to foster innovation.  The company has more than 9500 associates worldwide and is known as a team-based organization with no traditional managers, job descriptions, nor organizational charts for sixty years.  The results of this approach to organizing have been prolific innovation and continuous acknowledgement as a Global Best Place to Work company.

Leading the Application of Network Science

Debra is an internal researcher and designer who has been studying the practices of Gore’s network environment and embedding the insights into design of leadership development processes and learning solutions.  Gore’s unusual cultural practices were intended to facilitate connections and effective decision making among all the contributors to innovation in the enterprise.  Founder Bill Gore designed the organization to be able to form and reform around emerging innovations, and ended up creating enormous capacity for adaption rather than focusing on building an organization for stability and predictability as was the norm for traditional mid-century management approaches.

Connected Commons Role & Research

Debra brought Gore to the Connected Commons in 2017 and has participated on panels and webinars.  Her associate Willis Jensen is helping Gore is conduct its first ONA studies.

Previous Roles

Before joining Gore, Debra led Training and Development for Barnes and Noble; Management and Executive Development for Dell Computer; and Learning and Development for SEMATECH, the semiconductor manufacturing research consortium.  She is a frequent speaker on leadership and organizational practices for innovation, especially in networked organizations and on how other companies can apply Gore’s cultural practices to foster innovation and to meet organizational challenges in the unfolding future of work.


Julie Lodge-Jarret
Chief Talent Officer

Ford Motor Company

Current Role & Responsibilities

Julie leads the newly formed Global Talent organization within Ford Motor Company.  Ford is a Fortune 10 company, manufacturing cars and trucks around the world since 1903.  With over $156B in revenue and 200,000 employees – Ford’s talent needs are complex and ever changing.  Julie’s role includes Talent Acquisition, Learning & Development, Talent Analytics, Diversity & Inclusion, Culture and Organization Development.  She and her team lead the end-to-end processes that attract, develop and retain talent across the company.

Leading the Application of Network Science

Over the last decade, Ford’s business has become increasingly global and cross-functional, connectivity is increasing and teamwork is critical.  Being collegial is key to business success, however the risks of collaborative overload are very real!  Julie and her team are using the Connected Commons research, materials and analytics to facilitate executive development programs and provide individual coaching.

She has also used ONA to better inform organizational and individual strengths as well as opportunities to further foster networks across teams and geographic boundaries.

Connected Commons Role & Research

Julie is an active member of Connected Commons, attending various member events and joining panel discussions to share her application at Ford.  She’s leveraged her network within CC to learn more about the various resources, and is currently partnering with Rob Cross and team on a number of potential research and case study possibilities – most notably in assessing Collaborative Overload as part of team effectiveness and testing the use of network analysis to better inform organization design and culture transformation.

Previous Roles

Julie has served in a broad range of generalist roles at Ford – most recently from Chief Learning Officer… to VP, Greater China HR… to Director, AP HR Business Operation… to National Negotiator with the UAW.  She serves a Board Chair of a non-profit organization in Detroit, and her most precious roles are being a mom to 2 teenagers and a partner in life with her husband!


Annie McCallum
Head of Executive Development and Careers

Associated British Foods

Current Role & Responsibilities

Annie is Head of Executive Development, Careers at Associated British Foods (ABF) and is based in London.  ABF is a diversified international food, ingredients and retail group, with sales of £15.4bn, 133,000 employees, and operations in 50 countries across Europe, southern Africa, the Americas, Asia and Australia.  Annie’s role is to make it easy for people to navigate their careers across ABF through a variety of online tools, training and smart use of networks.

Leading the Application of Network Science

Having mapped senior networks across ABF twice in the last five years, Annie uses the data in two ways: firstly, she helps business leaders to identify opportunities for stronger networks to support learning, sharing of expertise and innovation in pursuit of commercial success, cost reduction & organisational efficiency.  Secondly, Annie helps people to use networks in a purposeful way to support their personal and professional development.

Connected Commons Role & Research

Annie is an enthusiastic supporter of the Connected Commons and has contributed in the past by joining a panel to present on programs designed and executed in ABF on the subject of energising networks. ABF also provided interviewees for Rob to support his efforts to understand the characteristics of networks at different organisational levels. In addition, Annie and ABF have contributed material to support the creation of a new networks learning module for use by students at Babson college.

Previous Roles

Annie was International Talent Director at Twinings (who make excellent tea) before moving to her current role at ABF.  Prior to that, she was VP Global Human Resources at PrecisionIR, where they specialize in web-based communications, and an International HR Director at Bombardier (who make planes and trains).


Chris Masterson
Senior Vice President of Quality

Ipsen Pharmaceuticals

Current Role & Responsibilities

Chris is the Senior Vice President of Quality at Ipsen, a global, patient-based biopharmaceutical company based in Paris, FR.  Ipsen is a mid-sized, innovative, rapidly growing biopharmaceutical company with excellent revenue growth, well beyond that of its biopharma peers and in the midst of a transformation.  Chris (recently moved from the UK back to the US) is responsible for leading a global Quality organization of approximately 400 talented individuals responsible for assuring the quality of Ipsen products, processes and services.  Chris is a microbiologist by education, but defines himself by his leadership and transformational improvement abilities.

Leading the Application of Network Science

Chris is not a HR or IT professional, but a pharmaceutical executive leading an operational function; hence, he has a unique perspective on leading the application of network sciences.  Chris became involved with Connected Commons through an Ipsen executive conference in France, with Rob Cross as a speaker.  Chris saw the benefit of using this innovative networking approach and took the lead at Ipsen for applying this approach in a business-focused, piloted way.  Chris is a natural leader, facilitator and networker, focused on building bridges across functions to improve cross-functional work processes.  With the help of Jean Singer and Sally Colella, Ipsen is building a Best In Class GXP Inspection Readiness process to assure successful global health authority inspections of its many biopharmaceutical manufacturing sites.

Connected Commons Role & Research

Chris has been a member of Connected Commons for a couple years, providing a unique operational perspective to the group.  His work in developing a Best In Class GXP Inspection Readiness process is a great example of how to use network science to solve real business problems.

Previous Roles

Before joining Ipsen, Chris served as the Vice President of Quality for Cubist (now Merck).  Prior to that, Chris worked for Shire, Biogen, Genzyme, Abbott, Astra Zeneca and others in technical and quality leadership roles. Chris has worked in the biopharmaceutical industry for his entire >25 year career in increasingly senior leadership roles.

Connected Commons Thought Leadership in the Media

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