Des Moines University Picks WittKieffer for CHRO Search

May 18, 2020 – Executive search firm WittKieffer is spearheading the search for a new chief human resources officer (CHRO) for Des Moines University in Iowa. Consultants Melissa Fincher and Sarah Miller are leading the assignment for the search firm.

Des Moines University wants a dynamic, creative and engaging leader to play an integral role in a time of significant transformation and change for the school, including construction of a new medical and health sciences campus.


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“Reporting directly to the university’s president, the CHRO will elevate Des Moines University as a workplace-of-choice through its commitment to work/life balance and nurturing an inclusive climate,” said WittKieffer. “The CHRO will ensure sophisticated and effective policies and procedures in support of a nimble workforce with an expanding ‘virtual office’ construct.”

The CHRO will lead a human resources team prepared to deliver impactful and proactive services, and consultation to its constituency, the search firm said. The individual will be expected to serve as a collaborative, innovative and trusted partner across all facets of the university and broader Des Moines community.

Extensive Coaching

In addition, the CHRO will be required to deliver extensive coaching and executive support to his or her peers on the university’s leadership team and will provide strategic counsel to the president. The individual will also be expected to provide strategic leadership in the development and establishment of applicable university human resources policies and procedures to include but not limited to talent acquisition, compensation, benefits, performance management, employee/labor relations and retention, while maintaining compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws.

WittKieffer said that the new leader will be responsible for the supervision and direction of human resources team of five: compensation benefits specialist, benefits manager, human resources associate, recruitment/engagement specialist and talent acquisition manager. The CHRO will deploy the individual and collective knowledge of the HR staff to most effectively and efficiently deliver high quality service to the university community.

Additionally, the individual will work closely with the university’s  board of trustees and audit compliance committee to educate, influence and inform investment and enterprise risk management strategies in the best interest of the institution.

Key Requirements   

Candidates should have a demonstrated knowledge of current human resources best practices, experience in organizational behavior, employee/labor relations, compensation, benefits administration, performance management and employee development, said WittKieffer. An established understanding and knowledge of employee engagement and talent acquisition is also required. Prospects should also have the ability to build and maintain cooperative working relationships with colleagues and represent the university with external parties in a professional and ethical manner.

A bachelor’s degree is required; a master’s degree or senior human resources credentialing is strongly preferred. Candidates should have a minimum of 10 years of human resources experience, with at least five years at the managerial level.

Prospects require demonstrated management/leadership skills to build a culture of teamwork and trust, and the ability to motivate employees who are undergoing change. They should also have the ability to think creatively and strategically, to build consensus and collaborate with others, and to articulate and implement human resources programs, that reflect university’s strategic plan.

Founded in 1898, Des Moines University is a premier medical and health sciences institution comprising three colleges offering eight graduate degrees. It is the second oldest osteopathic medical school and 15th largest medical school in the U.S. The university’s total enrollment is over 1,800. Its medical school is the largest in Iowa with about 840 students in the osteopathic college. The university has roughly 350 employees, approximately one-third in each category – faculty, non-exempt and exempt staff.

Respected Recruiters 

WittKieffer, based in Oak Brook, IL, assists hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical schools and physician groups; biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies; colleges and universities and not-for-profit community service and cultural organizations with senior administrative recruiting assignments. With more than 100 search professionals nationwide, its consultants recruit CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CNOs, physician executives and other leaders.


A CHRO View on Building Great Teams, From Inside and Out
Managing a large workforce at any company is no easy task. But when that workforce is 32,000 strong, it requires the steady hand of a top human resource leader who will keep everyone motivated, engaged, intact and forward thinking. And that’s across 160 countries encompassing every cultural nuance imaginable.


This is the domain of Michael D’Ambrose, chief human resources officer (CHRO) for Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), the $67 billion agricultural processing giant based in Chicago.

Hunt Scanlon Media editors sat down with Mr. D’Ambrose recently to discuss how ADM builds and shapes its bench strength through a range of range of tools – from skills training and mentoring to coaching and professional development. Promoting from within has big advantages at ADM. Mr. D’Ambrose walks us through it, revealing how failure – what he refers to as “misses and mistakes” – can act as its own teaching vehicle in a collaborative, people-focused culture. Internal recruiting is a critical component of ADM’s insatiable drive to find talent and we find out why each employee at ADM is viewed as a recruiter.

Ms. Fincher, based in Columbus, OH, has a particular expertise in advancement, human resources and arts leadership. She has developed relationships through years of higher education, non-profit and academic medicine collaborations. Her varied experiences in enrollment, advancement and talent and organizational development make her uniquely qualified to support clients in attracting high-caliber leaders for today’s dynamic and demanding higher education environment. Before joining WittKieffer, Ms. Fincher was a talent and organizational development consultant at Ohio State University.

Ms. Miller, based in Exeter, NH, is passionate about connecting exceptional talent to compelling leadership opportunities in higher education, aligning skills, values and competencies to position both individuals and institutions for success. She has served within academia as a talent manager, recruiter, human resources expert and admissions professional. Prior to WittKieffer, she led the talent acquisition and talent management functions in the human resources department at Simmons University in Boston.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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