Hanold Associates Picked to Find CHRO for American Airlines

A large, dynamic American business icon undergoing a multi-year, strategic succession planning process is seeking a qualified CHRO as it rebuilds its HR function – a result of key exits during the pandemic. Ideal candidates must be able to drive change, shape a progressive people strategy, focus on diversity & inclusion, oversee leadership transitions and cultural change, and find the right balance between a global approach and local market needs – all while actively engaging with a new CEO who has not yet been named! The hunt is now on to find just the right HR leader who can get it all done. Let’s go inside the search.

January 15, 2021 – Chicago-based Hanold Associates HR & Diversity Executive Search has been selected to find the next senior vice president, chief human resources officer (CHRO) for American Airlines Group, a plum assignment for the recruiting firm as 2021 kicks off. The mandate is being led by Jason Hanold, CEO and managing partner, and Keri Gavin, partner and global D&I practice sector leader.

“Leading an HR team of 300 people, the new CHRO will have the opportunity to profoundly impact American Airlines today, as well as its cultural flight route forward,” said the search firm in a statement. “The organization’s leaders are seizing the opportunity sparked by challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic to build and improve upon existing infrastructure. Throughout the pandemic, American Airlines has worked to support its team members, and the CHRO will develop key relationships with CEO Doug Parker and the rest of the executive leadership team to strategically facilitate the return of furloughed employees.” The role will include at least two direct reports.

The CHRO, who will be based at the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, TX, will report to Elise Eberwein, American Airlines Group’s executive vice president, people and engagement. The airline is in the midst of a multi-year strategic succession planning process that is designed to prepare an internal executive for the chief executive officer role. “As that transition occurs, there are other key leadership transitions that will soon happen, including Elise’s retirement,” said the search firm. “After these moves take place, the CHRO will eventually report to the new CEO, who will be a key part of this interviewing and selection process.”

In addition to the ongoing succession planning process, the organization has endured significant organizational challenges and business headwinds resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has removed roughly 30 percent of its management and support staff and has reorganized its officer team to become more efficient. Its leaders are looking to build and improve upon existing infrastructure. “The HR function is also in rebuild mode as a result of key exits during the pandemic,” said Hanold Associates. “Throughout the pandemic, American Airlines has worked tirelessly to support all its team members, which has led to the current effort in returning furloughed employees to work.”

Expanding Diversity Programs

American Airlines Group’s CHRO will be expected to ideate, build, and deploy organizational and people strategies that are impactful and support the business, said Hanold Associates. The individual should drive change through the function and structure the best way forward. The CHRO must also expand and enhance American Airlines’ diversity and inclusion programs around the globe, finding the right balance between a global approach and local needs. He or she will also ensure that these new programs are infused throughout company operations and have the end goal of positively affecting both the team member experience and the growth of the business.

Candidates should have experience operating within a large, dynamic, geographically dispersed, and field-oriented organization and understand the complexities that come from such a model, said the search firm. Prospects must also have served as a trusted advisor to organizational senior leadership and seen as someone who can be relied on for expert advice for any people-related decisions.

Proven success in guiding an organization through transformation, shaping a people strategy in a dynamic company that is continuously going through periods of change is further required. The CHRO role also calls for 15-plus years of progressive HR leadership experience in large, complex, and global organizations, serving as the leader of the function. A bachelor’s degree is required. 

Related: Hanold Associates Tapped by TB12 to Recruit New Board Directors

Pre-pandemic, the American Airlines Group, together with its regional partner, American Eagle, offered nearly 6,700 flights daily to 360 destinations in 50 countries. The company’s mainline fleet of 864 planes remains the largest in the world. In addition to its Texas headquarters, the airline also operates 10 hubs around the U.S. and currently employs about 120,000 team members around the globe, where 90 percent are represented by unions. The company had $45.77 billion in revenue in 2019.

Trusted Recruiters

Hanold Associates is a boutique executive search firm focused on HR and diversity and inclusion officers. Its client list is diverse across industries, geographies and business scenarios, and culture is at the core of everything the firm does. Its clients include the National Football League, Zoom, Domino’s Pizza, Under Armour, Patagonia, Gucci, The New York Times, Tom Brady’s TB12, Kohler, REI, Live Nation Entertainment, Dick’s Sporting Goods, McDonald’s, Major League Baseball, Kellogg, Apollo, Big Ten Conference, Blackstone, TPG, L Catterton, Northwestern University, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Electronic Arts, Fiat-Chrysler, SC Johnson, eBay, Moderna, Hillrom, Great Place To Work, Fossil, Vail Resorts, AbbVie, Carnival Corp., Biogen, Allstate, Bridgestone, Wikimedia, ClubCorp, Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and Ford Motor Co., among others.

Hanold Associates Assists The New York Times Co. in CHRO Search
Hanold Associates has assisted The New York Times Co. in the recruitment of Jacqueline M. Welch as executive vice president and chief human resources officer (CHRO). She will report directly to president and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien and sit on the company’s executive committee as well as lead its talent and inclusion department.

“This search, from launch to offer decision, took about six weeks,” said Jason Hanold, CEO and managing director of the search firm. “Jacqui is a unique spirit. She lifts people up, brings them together, is a phenomenal relationship builder, and truly makes all around her better. She is also an experienced and dynamic executive with a track record of success leading human resources work and I’m so pleased she is coming to The Times to assume this critical leadership position,” said Ms. Levien. “Our ability to attract, develop and retain world-class talent, and to create the conditions for our people to do their best work, is paramount to the continued success of our mission and business. Jacqui will be an essential partner to me and the senior leadership team as we continue to transform the company and our culture with operational excellence and diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of all we do.”

Mr. Hanold founded the firm in 2010. Previously, he served as a managing director with Russell Reynolds Associates, where he led the firm’s global human resources officer practice and was a member of the board of directors and CEO practices. Before that he held talent and recruiting positions with Whirlpool, McKinsey & Company, Deloitte and State Farm.

Ms. Gavin focuses on all functional areas of HR and diversity and inclusion. Prior to joining Hanold Associates, she was director of host relations and consulting for Ragan Communications. Before Ragan, Ms. Gavin was a television anchor and reporter in Des Moines, IA.

Related: Hanold Associates Recruits Chief People and Culture Officer for Major League Baseball

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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