Why revamping feedback is a priority for Carlyle’s new human resources chief

  • Carlyle announced that a new chief human resources officer will take over at the firm on Monday.
  • Jennifer Barker will become CHRO, taking over from Bruce Larson, who is retiring.
  • She talked to BI about her priorities, including changing needs around feedback.

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Carlyle, the Washington, DC-based alternative asset manager which manages some $382 billion in assets, this week announced that it would install a new chief human resources officer.

Jennifer Barker, a partner who’s been with Carlyle since 2016 and presently serves as the firm’s head of international human resources, will step into the role of chief human resources, taking over for Bruce Larson, formerly a senior human-capital executive at Goldman Sachs who joined Carlyle in 2019, according to a Carlyle regulatory filing. She will start on Monday, a spokesperson for the company told Business Insider.

Larson, who is set to step down Friday, introduced a number of workforce-related initiatives during his tenure, which overlapped with the stressful and isolating years of the coronavirus pandemic.

For instance, in 2021, the alternative asset manager debuted perks like a $750 “well-being stipend” for many employees, and launched a strategy designed to promote physical, social, and emotional health.

Barker is one of several senior female executives elevated to higher-level positions under CEO Harvey Schwartz’s tenure, which began nearly a year ago. Others include Lúcia Soares, the firm’s chief information officer and head of technology transformation, appointed in July; Eleena Melamed, global chief operating officer of investor relations and head of client strategy, appointed in August; and Meg Starr, formerly Carlyle’s global head of impact, who became global head of corporate affairs in December.

In a Thursday memo announcing the switch, Schwartz said Barker will report to Christopher Finn, Carlyle’s chief operating officer, and take a seat on the firm’s leadership and operating committees.

“One of Bruce’s enduring legacies is the outstanding team he has built and nurtured,” Schwartz said of Larson. “Jen has been instrumental in working to build Carlyle’s collaborative culture,” he said of Barker, who will continue to be based in London.

In an interview with BI, Barker said she plans to explore how to bring innovation to her job, including through artificial intelligence.

The swift advent of artificial intelligence will also create both opportunities and headwinds. “We’ll clearly need to put more focus on EQ, things that AI can’t replicate, and just making sure that we continue to innovate and to think about where these disruptions can help propel the business,” she said.

She is also interested in rethinking how companies deliver feedback to their employees, perhaps through the arcane rite of the performance review.

“We have a workforce now who need more regular feedback, and that’s not just the younger elements of the workforce,” she explained. “I think that we’ve got to start mirroring that in our people practices, even just innovation around how we look at data, how we put tools in the hands of people.”

Do you work in the financial-services sector? Contact this reporter. Reed Alexander can be reached via email at ralexander@insider.com, or SMS/the encrypted app Signal at (561) 247-5758.

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Reed Alexander