Pioneer Profile: Meet dani herrera

19th Feb 2024

It’s time that we recognise the people behind the evolving world of work. Our working lives have shifted to being more inclusive, more people-centric, more flexible, and just plain better for both employees and companies. 

These changes didn’t just happen: they were put into place and upheld by individuals and teams working to create a better working future for everyone. 

So we’re finally putting the spotlight on the people who make great companies great: the people-people.  

People-people are crucial to the success of every company. They find you the talent that drives you forwards, and they’ve taken on an increasingly strategic role in the past few years – often taking on responsibility for mental health, diversity and inclusion, culture, EVPs, Employer Branding and team happiness. 

Read more about the Pioneers List and go behind the scenes to understand how and why we’ve selected our Pioneers.

Tell us a little bit about your career history; how did you get to where you are now? What were the key milestones?

Like many others, I “fell into” Talent Acquisition by mere chance! 

About 17 years ago, when I was still living in Buenos Aires (Argentina), an RPO Agency was hiring bilingual professionals for a role I’d never even heard about before: “Recruiter,” and the rest is history, really! That opportunity helped me discover what I wanted to be when “I grew up,” even if I didn’t know it yet.  

After that position, I held a few other Talent Acquisition roles at Hewlett Packard and IBM until I was hired to build, manage, and develop all things Talent Acquisition and Recruitment Operations for an American advertising agency that was just opening in Buenos Aires. And that’s the role that changed my life, literally!

After about three years at that advertising agency, my American Manager offered me the opportunity to transfer to the United States to continue the work I was doing. Which, to be completely honest, wasn’t even part of my wildest dreams! Me? In NY? That was impossibly huge!

Back then, I knew that my approach to Recruiting and TA Operations was a bit different than what my colleagues were doing, but I didn’t have the language to express how and why. It turns out I was doing “Inclusive Hiring” and “Diversity Recruiting” without even knowing it! Because, back home, DEI is just “getting started” now, and it certainly wasn’t part of any conversations or business plans 15 years ago! At least not back in Buenos Aires. 

Fast forward a few years, I found myself working in NYC! That’s when I had the real and tangible chance to explore, grow, and develop all my DEI skills, knowledge, and commitment. I started volunteering and networking outside of my regular working hours, which eventually helped me land my first speaking engagement on “Inclusive Hiring,” and things started growing like a snowball ever since.

Since then, I have had the incredible privilege of managing Recruitment Operations and DEI global strategies, getting recognized by local and international awards, getting featured in press and media, speaking at local and global conferences, co-creating a volunteer-led organisation that helps recruiters become more well-versed in DEI, volunteering for the NASA panel of DEI experts, and so, so much more!

Currently, I’m an independent Talent and DEI Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker helping organisations become more intentionally inclusive and equitable - I wouldn’t change it for anything!

When did you become interested in flexible working, EVPs, Employer Brand, and the future of work?

In all honesty, I’ve believed in the power of flexible work environments since my very first role in in-house talent acquisition! I remember having very heated conversations with my CEO at the time because I was convinced that a flexible, hybrid schedule would support our employer brand, improve our talent acquisition approach, expand our talent pool, support our retention strategies, and help us stay ahead of our competitors. 

I’m glad that my POV has only expanded since. I believe hybrid and flexible work environments are the present and future of healthy and mature workplaces that truly centre their practices on their employees’ well-being and needs. Flexibility is the foundation of healthy, equitable, accessible, and inclusive company cultures. 

What is the most impactful change that you’ve implemented?

My absolute favourite project to work on is helping organisations redesign their entire talent attraction, interviewing, and hiring processes so they’re as inclusive, equitable, and accessible as possible. 

When working on those projects, I dive in deep and big! I review every single tiny step of the entire process, and I embed equity, accessibility, and inclusion into every single little thing they do, say, and implement. My approach is to completely overhaul and redesign the organisation’s entire TA system and support every single member of the hiring team throughout the transition so they can also become intentionally inclusive! 

What’s the biggest impact flexible working has had on your own life?

A few, really! From a professional perspective, I do more and better work when I have the chance to choose when and where I work. Most of my work is knowledge-based, so I appreciate quiet spaces where I can really concentrate and get work done!

From a personal POV, I sometimes suffer from migraines, so having the flexibility of working with an ice pack on my head when needed or pausing my work for a bit so I can take a shower or dim all the lights is a life-changer for me. 

What’s the biggest challenge of being in your role right now?

As a DEI Professional, the bigger challenge I’m currently seeing is the general de-funding and de-prioritization of all things DEI, Talent Experience, Learning & Development, Talent Acquisition, and Employee well-being. 

With that said, I’ve also noticed that those organisations that made true, strong, and non-performative commitments to DEI back in 2020 are still going strong and fully understand the impact and need for these practices. 

What do you think the next big trend is in working culture?

I think we’ll see a few things happening in the next few years:

  • More research will continue to come up about the positive impact of flexible work environments, WFH policies, and hybrid schedules. Having easy access to this data will only support what many Talent and DEI Professionals already know: RTO mandates don’t work, and they only harm the company’s culture, employee wellbeing, and attraction and retention strategies. The more information there is, the more educated job-seekers and employees will be, which will only shine a brighter light on those companies’ motives.
  • Talent will continue to call out inequitable, unethical, and un-inclusive practices openly and loudly, especially on social media. CEOs and Executives will need to pivot quickly and embed DEI-based strategies into the way their companies operate to avoid damaging their employer’s brand and reputation.
  • LinkedIn and TikTok will continue to disrupt the way we talk about work and business. More users will continue leveraging these platforms to build and nurture their personal brands. 

Take a look at the other Pioneers who made the list, and subscribe to our newsletter to get updates on new Pioneers, guides to help you navigate your strategic role, and exclusive invites to webinars and events