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We Put Together an HR Department Using ‘Game of Thrones’ Characters

May 14, 2019 by Josh Hrala

The final season of Game of Thrones is almost over. We won’t spoil anything here, but boy has it been a doozy so far. With the final episode merely a few days away, we’ve decided to take a look at some of our favorite characters and what type of HR leader they would be (and if they would make the cut onto our dream team of Westeros HR professionals).

Needless to say, if HR existed in Westeros, literally no one would have a job anymore. The misconduct. The harassment. The poor leadership. It’s more like A Song of Ice and Fired (hold your applause).

But still, every Iron Throne needs a strong human resource team. So, if we were taking the throne, who would be our top players? That’s the question we’re going to ponder today.

Let’s get going.

Jon Snow: CHRO


If anyone is a strong, fair leader, it’s Snow. Sure, he doesn’t really want the job, but he’s still engaged nonetheless. He has the power to bring people to his side, to rally the troops, and to put in place policies that are fair to everyone. He worries about the big picture, how things look on all sides, and is a leader that attracts people because he’s an actual leader (not a forceful tyrant).

He’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty and be on the front line, which can be a great then when it comes to dealing with the CEO (Dany?) who wants nothing but loyalty in the form of bent knees. Sure, she also has a strong belief system (freedom – we can all get behind that), but she lacks the people skills to truly lead in the same way that Jon can (yeah, I said it).

The CHRO has to be someone like Jon who can simply, by his very nature, lead. He’s tough, honest, and fair.

Tyrion Lannister: VP of HR


Alongside a good leader, a great HR department needs a well-connected strategist that can help get things done. Over the course of the show, Tyrion has changed quite a bit. He’s struggled with his vices. He’s done some heinous deeds. But, he grew from all of it into one of the most level-headed characters around.

Plus, he’s by far the wittiest of them all. He always advocates for peace over war and has been helping Dany on her quest for the throne for quite some time now. Sure, he makes mistakes along the way but that’s just part of growing, isn’t it?

With Tyrion, you can have a faithful strategist that is ready at a moment’s notice to come up with a solid plan of action that takes all possible outcomes into consideration. With Jon – King in the North and CHRO of the Seven Kingdoms – at his side, Tyrion could solve poor retention rates, improve culture by paying close attention to work-life balance, and be a blast at the holiday party.

Sansa Stark: Head of Culture


So, this isn’t really a title, but Sansa would definitely be in charge of employer branding, helping to also ensure that the Seven Kingdoms had a culture what would engagement citizens in a way that keeps them from hopping on a boat and taking their skills to Essos.

Think about it: Sansa, from the very beginning, is taught all about what it means to be a lady (something that Arya absolutely hates). While that’s problematic in many ways we won’t get into here, through the process she’s taught a lot about culture and the way of royalty. She’s also experienced some of the worst acts of anyone in the entire cast, forcing her character to change.

Right now, Sansa is worried about the people of the North. You can think of this as her department. Her department isn’t fitting in well with the overall organization. She doesn’t want their ways and culture to falter but she also understands that having one large, cohesive kingdom that is at peace is far stronger than departments fighting one another.

So, to pull all of that off, in a business sense she is concerned with employer branding and culture, the act of making sure that the Seven Kingdoms works together. She’s also pretty diplomatic compared to the other royals on the show.

And, next up, we have another Stark:

Arya Stark: Offboarding Specialist


A girl has no name, but our offboarding specialist does: Arya Stark.

If anyone has experience with offboarding (which is quite a bit different in the show, obviously), it’s Arya. She can let people go in way that they literally never see coming. Now, of course, that’s not great HR policy. But in Westeros . . . close enough.

This is a tricky thing to talk about without spoiling some seriously great moments in the show, but fans that are current know exactly what I’m talking about.

Plus, on top of her willingness to let people go, she can wear many faces, allowing her to be who the person wants her to be. Now, this is a good strategy. You need to be personable and those being let go should talk with their direct reports. So, if you could have anyone on staff, it should be the person that can literally become anyone and has the thick skin to perform the task. With Jon in leadership, he might be able to get her to tone it down a bit, too (doubtful).

Varys: The HR Consultant


He’s for the realm. That’s been Varys’ mission statement since the very beginning. Sure, he isn’t blindly loyal to one leader, which can make him hard to nail down. He also doesn’t seem to be in it for himself, though, either.

Varys is a unique character because he’s served countless kings in the past. He’s basically always thrown his weight behind whoever he thinks will make for the best ruler of the entire realm, which means that he has the company’s best interest at heart even if he can be incredibly shady.

For our Seven Kingdoms HR department, he doesn’t fully fit in but he has characteristics of a bunch of different positions. Not quite CHRO material and not quite generalist or specialist, either. His role is sort of ambiguous. This is why we’ve made him a consultant. He can’t nail himself down to the one ruler forever because what if they start to make poor decisions?

Still, when he is on your side, Varys can be a great ally. He’s smart and capable of leading from a distance in the same way that Tyrion is. However, unlike Tyrion, he’s more of a wildcard that can shift his focus from the mission to the overall picture at the drop of a hat.

Miscellaneous Positions

Those are the characters that we’d love to have on our HR team. “But what about this character?” we hear you shout at your monitor. Well, not all characters work for an HR team in the Seven Kingdoms even if they are highly regarded on the show.

They do, however, fit into some pretty funny other roles that, while making this list, we came up with. For example, here’s a list of other positions your favorite characters might hold:

  • Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons: Head of Recruitment and/or CEO
  • Qyburn: CTO
  • Cersei Lannister: The Token Toxic Worker
  • Hodor: Doorman
  • The Mountain: Chief of Security
  • Bronn: Independent Contractor
  • Jaime Lannister: OSHA Rep

And that concludes our list! Of course, we didn’t get all of the characters (it’s a very large cast). Did we miss your favorite? Who would you have on your Seven Kingdoms HR team? Drop us a line on social here.

(All pictures/HBO)

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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