One thing to know about Hali Croner and her staff of 20 at The Croner Company is, “We all love data.”
That’s appropriate. For more than 25 years, Croner has been a compensation consultant. Her firm conducts annual compensation surveys in specific industries including software games, digital content and services, television and entertainment. It helps companies and their boards of directors set pay policies as well as develop their salary, bonus and equity structures.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
Professional background: My professional career has been highly focused in the field of compensation consulting. I launched in research as an Analyst at SRI International studying consumer financial behaviors and preferences. I then joined Sibson & Company, a national compensation consulting firm, as an associate and learned the professional consulting practice under the distinguished leadership of CEO Jude Rich and managing principal Mark Edwards. I joined The Croner Company as an analyst, became a consultant and then after 10 years was made president and CEO. I have been a compensation consultant for over 25 years.
Education: A.B., Dartmouth College; Phi Beta Kappa
I lead The Croner Company, a boutique compensation consulting firm based in Kentfield. We are a small firm with leading clients who value our specialized knowledge, our focus on data and analytics, and our committed partnership and service to them. We focus generally in the industries where technology and creativity meet. Our firm conducts annual compensation surveys in specific industries including software games, digital content and services, television and entertainment.
We help companies and their boards of directors set pay policies as well as develop their salary, bonus and equity structures. We work with organizations of all sizes from small start ups to large conglomerates helping them create practical ways to attract, retain and motivate their employees. The Croner Company’s employees range from new college graduates to seasoned executives and we have a warm, cohesive, open and creative culture. We all love data!
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO
In January 2016, we acquired Lasnik-Broida Consultants, a compensation consulting firm specializing in surveys and consulting for philanthropic foundations and nonprofits. It has been meaningful and exciting to work closely with Elaine Lasnik-Broida, the company’s Principal, to take over the conduct of a leading compensation data survey for the sector, and to partner with foundations and nonprofits to help keep their compensation plans current and equitable.
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Raising two well-adjusted, interesting, talented sons with my husband Eugene in the midst of running and growing the company.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?
It takes several years to learn how to conduct our in depth surveys and to advise clients about compensation programs that touch every employee at their companies. Developing and retaining our employees has been, and remains, our top priority. Balancing development with “keeping the trains running” is a continuous challenge.
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU
Optimistic. Service oriented. Diplomatic. Direct. Determined. Hard working.
AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I have been very fortunate to work in organizations that are “meritocracies” and have had leaders, both male and female, and two male business partners, who have helped and celebrated my growth and success. So my biggest obstacles have been my own: self-doubt, fear of conflict. I’m not sure I have overcome self-doubt. I question myself still on every project: have I have truly understood the situation and the data; is the recommendation we are making the best possible one for the client? I have overcome my fear of conflict by learning that usually you can get to a better answer if you address it, courteously, head on.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
The new generation of employees seeks more context about where they fit in, and can progress, in their organizations. The new generation cares about culture, communication and values as well as compensation. Our profession is changing from one that focuses solely on compensation programs to one that helps communicate the full value proposition of working at an organization. Our profession is now challenged to become story-tellers rather than simply analysts or compensation problem solvers. In addition, we will have to do so through digital communication that is accessed by the employee, rather than broadcast at a time frame that works for the employer.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?
My father, Mel Croner, who started The Croner Company in 1978. Still a competitive tennis player at 80. Still comes into the office to provide mentorship and advice (and to help a few long-term clients who won’t work with anyone but him). Mel started The Croner Company after running the Western Region Consulting Practice for then Arthur Young. This was an entrepreneurial move that just wasn’t done that much back then. In doing so, he modeled that it is okay to take chances. He specialized in strategic planning, organization design and incentives to reward strategic outcomes. His values still inform how I work, and how our company works today. He is an optimist.
He taught me that in the consulting business you never have a backlog of business and that the next project will come. He taught me the value of long-term relationships with clients; the importance of face to face meetings and phone calls; of the non-negotiable importance of providing your findings and recommendations even if it is not what the client wants to hear; and of being prescriptive with recommendations. He has taught me the importance of being fair and generous in deal making and in rewarding employees. He emphasizes the importance of setting context for clients and employees; providing clear and frequent feedback and direction; and letting people succeed on their merits.
When asked why he continued to work with difficult clients over the years, he simply stated, “They need the help.” He has long been a supporter of women in their careers, even before he had two daughters. I cherish my long-term business partnership with my father and am so grateful he started this business so it can continue today.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?
Be sure to understand the work-life requirements of the job and your goals for work. If you are looking to strive in your career, then take it by the horns and don’t wait for people to empower you or your work. Do what you said you would do when you said you would do it, even if that means readjusting your schedule or other commitments.
See past politics and personal agendas to your goals and work toward them. If you choose, you can be a mother and have a career, but know that “something will have to give” to make both successful, maybe sleep.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Leslie Murphy, CEO of Bradley Electric, Novato. She is a thoughtful, empathetic and yet no nonsense leader who runs one of the largest companies in Marin. She prioritizes her family and fun as well as her business.
Best place to work outside of your office: Plane rides with good Internet connections.
Social media you most use: Facebook and LinkedIn
Stress-relievers: Regular visits to the gym, dinners with friends, reading books and vacations with family.
IS THERE SOMETHING WE DIDN’T ASK THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
Outside of work, family and friends, I find tremendous satisfaction in my volunteer work currently as the President of the Board of Directors of Congregation Rodef Sholom and on the Board of Trustees of Sterne School in San Francisco. I enjoy listening to my oldest son’s rock and roll bands and watching my youngest son play soccer.