April 20, 2017 – Chief human resource officers (CHRO) have made big strides as strategic game changers and sounding boards for CEOs. The best ones are now, in fact, critical C-suite players. The recruitment of these executives continues to be a critical hire for companies. The latest one: Hanold Associates has placed Wayne Young as CHRO of Hanna Andersson. Partner Keri Gavin led the search.
Reporting to CEO Adam Stone, Mr. Young will be responsible for the organization’s people strategy and vision while driving enhanced levels of employee engagement across the organization. His main focus will be to maintain and champion Hanna Andersson’s rich history and culture, and to elevate and develop existing talent and enhance operational capabilities. Mr. Young was most recently with Harry & David as vice president of human resources.
“Hanna Andersson is a very special brand. The employees are highly connected to their customers and the organization’s founders, and some of their employees have been with the organization since inception in 1983,” said Ms. Gavin. “They wanted to bring in a leader who would truly embrace the company’s commitment to people.” She called Mr. Young “the perfect fit” for Hanna Andersson’s culture.
Founded in 1983 by Gun Denhart, Hanna Andersson is a premium children’s apparel and lifestyle brand. In an era when most clothes were created with polyester and synthetic fabrics, Hanna Andersson set out to make clothing that was kid-approved for comfort and mother-approved for quality. It has over 70 retail locations and more than 1,000 employees.
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Headquartered in Chicago, 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 flood gates opened,” said CEO Jason Hanold. “Company leaders were waiting to see how the markets would respond to the early days of the new administration.”
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Ms. Gavin is focused on recruiting HR leaders in talent acquisition, organizational development, talent management, operations and total rewards. According to colleagues, her signature strength lies in her skilled relationship building skills. She recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to take us inside the hunt for CHROs.
Keri, where do you find the best HR talent?
We find incredibly talented HR leaders in companies of every size, geography and business scenario. It’s not a destination or a matter of target companies, it’s about a collective portfolio of experiences. HR leaders in major multinationals to mid-cap companies are doing innovative and meaningful work. Most scenarios require a highly strategic and exceptional hands-on operator. Those are not opposing capabilities.
What is the best type of experience for these top HR roles?
Great rotations through companies for different maturity cycles and scale, along with hitting key rotations in talent and compensation. A broad HR generalist is less compelling to some CEOs than one who has done specific assignments in total rewards or talent management, including the culture and engagement work.
“We find incredibly talented HR leaders in companies of every size, geography and business scenario. It’s not a destination or a matter of target companies, it’s about a collective portfolio of experiences.”
What traits/characteristics make up ideal CHROs?
The definition of an “ideal CHRO” changes with each new search. What works for one company won’t always work for another. You have to find a person whose experiences can bring value to your company. If there is a characteristic cocktail that all CHROs should have it’s one who possess unwavering integrity, with grit and a hands-on orientation, strategic lens and is operationally phenomenal.
How important is for a CEO to have a top notch CHRO by their side?
We all know it’s critically important. How does any organization achieve success, create and drive towards a brilliant strategy and then achieve results without the right people. A great HR leader is invaluable to the organization’s success.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media