November 10, 2016 – Executive search firm Grace Blue Partnership has named Jean-Michel Wu as its Asia Pacific chief executive officer to lead the firm’s expansion across the region. He will be based in Grace Blue’s regional head office in Singapore alongside APAC chairman Michael Maedel, partners Helen Duffy and Hilda Ng. In addition, he will join the global board of Grace Blue, which specializes in creative, media, communications, and the marketing sector.
In his new role, Mr. Wu will concentrate on expanding both the firm’s geographical reach and capabilities within the region. Grace Blue is looking to open offices in Shanghai alongside existing locations in New York, Singapore and Mumbai.
He will also be launching Liberty Blue, the business within the Grace Blue Partnership that works with ‘leaders of the future’ and he will continue to expand the work the partnership is doing in M&A and consultancy services, according to reports.
Tapping an Agency Talent Chief
Mr. Wu, who joins the firm in three weeks, currently serves as chief talent officer at McCann Worldgroup. Prior to his tenure with McCann, he spent over a decade with WPP in a number of senior talent related roles, most recently as APAC regional talent director for executive recruitment and talent management.
“There is no one better in the region than Wu who has both the depth of experience and the connectivity to ensure that the Grace Blue Partnership continues to deliver an unrivaled service all over the world for our clients,” said firm founder Juliet Timms.
“At the risk of being cliché, this is a people driven industry,” Mr. Wu said. “Putting the right candidate in the right role at the right time has a profoundly transformative effect on a business. Grace Blue is at the forefront of innovative talent identification and recruitment and I am excited to be part of the next stage of their success.”
HR Leaders Transition to Recruiters
Hunt Scanlon Media has taken note of the recent trend among top ranking HR executives reestablishing themselves as executive recruiters. Here’s a quick look at some of the more prominent ones:
- Battalia Winston appointed Frederick Lamster as a partner in the firm’s retail practice. Mr. Lamster is a veteran human resources and staffing professional whose career spans more than 25 years. He previously served as CHRO for Orchard Brands, a $1.1 billion catalog marketer;
- Curran Partners added Robert F. Obst as a new partner. Mr. Obst brings more than 40 years of corporate experience in talent acquisition and organizational development. Most recently, he was chief human resources and facilities officer (CHRO) for MacroGenics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company in Rockville, MD;
- Johnson Executive Search named Carol Crawford to lead the firm’s newly established HR division. Ms. Crawford spent 17 years as CHRO with McKenna Long & Aldridge, which grew during her tenure from a mid-sized regional firm to an Am Law 100 firm with an international presence;
- Executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group added Michael A. Biondolillo as senior vice president in its Radnor, PA office. Most recently, he served as SVP of HR for Henkel Corporation – Americas. During his career, he led other global human resource initiatives for QVC, Inc.; Wyeth Pharmaceuticals; Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company; MG Industries; and General Electric;
- Sheffield Haworth appointed John Budriss as executive director of corporate officers in the firm’s technology practice. He most recently ran all talent acquisition for Bloomberg and was CHRO leading talent and people-related activities for Bloomberg’s enterprise division. He formerly served as global head of talent acquisition at Thomson Reuters;
- Plymouth Search Partners – Signium added Mark S. Fogel as managing director in its New York City office. He formerly served as CHRO for Success Academy Charter Schools. He is the recipient of multiple human resources leadership and innovation awards nationally, including the Society for Human Resources (SHRM) human capital leader of the year award and HR Executive Magazine Honor roll designation.
“Executive search can provide the ability to have impact across a variety of companies, industries and geographies,” said Kimberly Shanahan, president and chief executive officer of accelHRate, an executive search firm focused on the senior level HR function. “CHROs are able to take their corporate experiences to understand their clients’ business and individual challenges. Well networked CHROs are able to leverage their relationships from a client and candidate perspective,” she added.
But some who make this career move are surprised at how challenging the work can be. “There are elements of business development that many do not enjoy,” said Ms. Shanahan. Others, she said, have discussed the roller coaster ride that executive search can be, with its extreme highs and lows. “We tend to see more CHROs go into HR consulting rather than executive search as that area tends to be more aligned with their expertise.”
Ms. Shanahan said that as CHROs gain as strategic advisors to their organizations, that increase in stature and importance might itself be preparing these executives to enter the executive search industry.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media