Hanold Associates Lands CHRO for Blue Apron

Chicago-based search firm Hanold Associates has recruited former DPI Specialty Foods executive to the top HR post at Blue Apron. Jason Hanold takes us inside the search and the current state of CHRO recruiting. 
Hanold Associates Lainie Cooney CHRO Blue Apron

November 3, 2017 – Executive recruiters are in hot pursuit of chief human resources officers (CHRO) and other senior level HR leaders across the nation. The best HR chiefs are seen as integral strategic advisors to the C-suite, and the ones in demand are those who are sounding boards for CEOs. Why is there such pent up demand for top flight HR experts?

According to executive recruiters, corporate leaders are hiring more like-minded sophisticated, proactive, strategic HR individuals with strong business savvy to drive their people capabilities just as they would a P&L.

Recruiting such talent continues to be of vital importance for companies. In the latest instance, Chicago-based Hanold Associates helped place Lainie Cooney as CHRO for Blue Apron in New York. Jason Hanold, CEO and co-managing partner of the recruitment firm, led the search along with partner Katie Traines.

“We were targeting HR leaders who would have pattern recognition around a similar business scenario involving scale, IPO and strong knowledge of the food and grocery industries,” said Mr. Hanold. “We leaned into sitting CHROs,” he said for this national search.

“Lainie is an exceptional HR leader with terrific experiences to help scale the business and drive the organizational strategy for Blue Apron,” Mr. Hanold said.

Ms. Cooney will report directly to CEO Matt Salzberg. She will also partner with the firm’s teams in all aspects of talent acquisition. As CHRO, she is responsible for developing, implementing and aligning all HR functions with the business objectives. She will also be charged with championing and evolving what Mr. Hanold described as an already strong and vibrant culture characterized by a passion for its mission, strong work ethic, high energy, entrepreneurship and business acumen.


CHRO Recruiting in the News

Hunt Scanlon Media has tracked a number of CHRO search assignments in recent months. Here’s a sampling taken from the company’s daily newswire archives:

WinterWyman Executive Search placed former Nortek executive Liam Weston as CHRO at Hollingsworth & Vose, a global manufacturer of advanced materials for filtration, battery and industrial applications. Senior vice president and partner Beverly Morgan led the search. Before joining H&V, Mr. Weston was CHRO for Nortek.

Los Angeles-headquartered executive search firm Shelli Herman and Associates placed Rob Spooner as the CHRO of the internationally acclaimed San Diego Zoo. President Shelli Herman led the search along with her associate, Michele Lyons. Mr. Spooner most recently was area director of colleague experience. 

Pi Executive recruited Marco A. Leal as CHRO of Ajinomoto Windsor, a top manufacturer of Asian / Ethnic foods. The search was conducted by partner and board member Pierre Trippitelli and assisted by director Katherine MacLane. Mr. Leal brings over 20 years of experience developing world class HR organizations within fast growing consumer goods companies. 

Boyden recruited Heather Laychak as CHRO of The Aerospace Corporation. Tim McNamara, managing partner of Boyden’s Washington, D.C. office and a leader in the firm’s aerospace, defense & intelligence and global transportation sectors, led the search. Ms. Laychak comes to Aerospace from Mattel, where she was the senior director of talent management.


Ms. Cooney has upwards of 20 years of experience designing and executing human resource strategies across geographically dispersed organizations, with a focus on operational excellence, change management, talent acquisition and performance management. Previously, she was CHRO for DPI Specialty Foods in Ontario, CA. Before that, she served as vice president of human resources at State Street Investment Management Services and as an HR manager and six sigma black belt project leader at Home Depot.

“I’m excited to welcome Lainie to Blue Apron and believe she will be an invaluable member of our team,” said Mr. Salzberg. “Lainie’s experience in food distribution and retail makes her an especially strong fit for our organizational structure, and her expertise will be essential as we continue to strengthen our processes, develop our people and culture, and align the company to achieve our business goals.”

Ms. Cooney returned the compliment. “As an avid home cook and longtime Blue Apron customer, I’m energized by the company’s shared mission of making incredible home cooking accessible to everyone,” she said. “Blue Apron is an established market leader in a highly dynamic category, and I’m looking forward to working with the team to attract, develop, and retain a talented, diverse workforce that will continue to drive the company’s priorities forward.”

Ms. Traines, of Hanold Associates, said Ms. Cooney was a clear choice for the role. “Lainie’s depth of expertise in assessment and strategy creation will help her build a strong and enduring foundation for HR at Blue Apron,” she said. “Her warmth and style will also help shape their organizational culture going forward.”

Blue Apron is an ingredient-and-recipe meal-kit service that provides a weekly box of ingredients for home preparation. Since its founding in 2012, the company has built three fulfillment centers across the U.S. Expanding on and complementing its meal-kit service, Blue Apron expanded into home cooking supplies and a vertically integrated winery.

HR Search Consultants

Hanold Associates is a boutique search firm specializing in HR officer assignments, serving clients such as REI, Patagonia, Nike, UFC, Moderna, Marvin Companies, Medtronic, Fiat-Chrysler, Godiva, eBay, Northwestern, Fossil, Carnival Corporation, Northwestern Medicine and Outward Bound.

The firm recently launched five CHRO searches for client companies, including Foundation Medicine, Hygien and Vail Resorts. “We witnessed an unusual year in that we saw an uptick right before the year-end holidays, and then a long pause, pre- and post-inauguration until about the mid-February, and then the floodgates opened,” said Mr. Hanold. “Company leaders were waiting to see how the markets would respond to the early days of the new administration.”

“The CHRO market is as strong as ever,” Mr. Hanold said. “We are actively leading CHRO searches for Visteon, Laureate Education, C&D Technologies (battery producers for Apple and Tesla), and a half dozen private equity portfolio companies. In addition, doing CHRO succession searches for a handful of major multinationals – and we are a small boutique — with several in discussion. So I imagine that the broader market is thriving.”

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

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