March 22, 2016 – Global executive search firm Allegis Partners has placed Leah Swan as senior vice president of human resources at The Children’s Place, a retail chain carrying a range of trendy clothing, accessories & footwear for babies and kids. The position is based in Secaucus, NJ and reports to Jane Elfers, chief executive officer.
The search was led by Mike Bergen, managing partner & global HR practice leader, and Cher Murphy, managing director human resources. The firm was first retained by the company this past fall.
Ms. Swan is an accomplished human resource professional most recently serving as SVP of HR for Ross Stores Inc. She previously spent 10 years with GAP serving as SVP of HR for its international retail & global supply chain organization based in London. Ms. Swan brings many years of experience to her new role having held additional retail HR roles at Williams Sonoma, The Walt Disney Company, KPMG and BRASHS in Melbourne, Australia.
“The Children’s Place was in need of a dedicated human resource professional with a deep understanding of the retail space,” said Mr. Bergen. “Leah stood out as an exemplary candidate who will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization.”
Earlier this year, Allegis Partners was retained by Aleris Corporation to find its chief human resources officer (CHRO). Mr. Bergen is also leading that assignment along with managing director Matt Healey. Aleris, one of the largest private companies in the U.S., is a producer of aluminum rolled and extruded products, recycled aluminum, and specification aluminum alloy manufacturing.
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Demand for senior level HR executives is rising, according to recruiters specializing in the function. Hiring forecasts point to a growing sense of urgency within the HR community to prepare and plan for coming talent shortages. Recent hitting trends show that a full one-third of companies polled said their organizations were hiring for HR positions. This number is up from 20 percent just 18 months ago.
According to Mr. Bergen, identifying top-drawer HR leaders is becoming more challenging since the talent pool in many respects is shrinking, while the position profile itself is evolving. Finding senior HR leaders with the right mix of business acumen and human resource skills is increasingly a hurdle to cross, he said.
“Traditionally, HR executives haven’t had the same career development steps as, say, someone coming up through finance. The academic path for HR professionals has failed to emphasize hardcore business skills, and once HR professionals enter the profession, they have rarely been moved into line roles to gain an understanding of the business.”
Today, he said, HR heads are strategic executives who are constantly interacting with the CEO, members of the executive team, and the board of directors. “They are business leaders first who happen to lead the HR function,” he noted.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media