Russell Reynolds Associates Leading Chief People Officer Search for HM Revenues & Customs

July 26, 2016 – Executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates has been tapped by HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) to lead its search for a new chief people officer. The CPO will responsible for the people agenda across HMRC. The position is said to be pivotal to delivering the large-scale workforce planning, leadership and skills elements of HMRC’s transformation and will be a critical driver of HMRC’s “Building Our Future” program. The incoming people leader will have overall accountability for HR strategy, HR operations across HMRC’s lines of business and HR shared services.

Candidates to be considered for the role will be strategic leaders with a proven background in balancing both strategic and operational HR priorities and acting as an advocate for change.

Candidates will also need to demonstrate their capability and potential against the following criteria:

  • Extensive experience of providing visible leadership within a large, complex operational organization, with a proven ability to develop a motivated, engaged and high-performing workforce;
  • A clear record of success in delivering significant performance and cultural transformation within a large organization;
  • Political sensitivity and understanding, with a proven ability to secure the confidence of senior internal and external stakeholders, board-level colleagues and chief executives;
  • The ability to build highly effective, influential and collaborative relationships across government or industry, with external organizations and individuals;
  • The resilience to work under sustained pressure and scrutiny, and lead effectively through ambiguity;
  • Strong analytical ability, with the ability quickly to distill large amounts of information from a variety of sources into sound recommendations.

HM Revenues & Customs is the U.K.’s tax, payments and customs authority, and has a vital purpose in collecting the money that pays for the country’s public services and helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.

Russell Reynolds Associates has been active serving U.K.-based companies in recent months.


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The firm has just been selected by Help for Heroes to lead its search for a CEO. In addition, it has been retained by Save the Children International (SCI) to lead its search for a chief people officer. Concurrent with this assignment, RRA is also leading the CEO search for Save the Children UK.

The chief people officer (CPO) position is a relatively new title within the HR function which many companies are using instead of a chief human resources officer (CHRO). It first appeared about a decade ago. Now, as companies look to build internal brand awareness and focus more on establishing and driving their own unique cultures, CPOs are coming more into vogue.

“Organizations that bring in a CPO are typically looking for more than a leader to oversee its staff and people policies; the focus is on building talent as a key competitive advantage, and more on culture — which includes values, ethics, mission and creating a working environment in which employees can thrive,” said Joanna Miller, managing director of boutique executive search firm Miller Black Associates.

Ms. Miller recently recruited Andrea Carter as chief people officer of Habitat for Humanity International in Atlanta. Ms. Carter most recently served as global vice president of human resources at Ralph Lauren, based in Greensboro, NC. She previously held senior HR positions with The Home Depot and Newell Rubbermaid.

Many HR specialists see the CPO and CHRO roles as interchangeable. Both are C-level positions overseeing human resources. But, said Ms. Miller, “a growing number of companies see the CPO role as different from CHRO. Among other priorities, the CPO champions values,” said Ms. Miller. “They bring a new set of priorities to companies that make complete sense for the 21st century. They help to drive competitive advantage, but in a very understated way.”

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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