Hanold Associates Seeks Chief People Officer for Canidae

Market demand for HR leaders is at an all-time high, especially as private equity firms increasingly embrace the role of talent in delivering maximum returns for their portfolio businesses. This growing pet-food company wants an executive who can help make it one of the best places to work.

May 6, 2019 – Private equity-backed Canidae, a pet food company, has retained Hanold Associates to find its first chief people officer. Jason Hanold, CEO and co-managing partner of the search firm, is leading the assignment, joined by partners Keri Gavin and Mayank Parikh.

The chief people officer, a newly recreated role for Canidae, will report directly to the CEO and will be responsible for leading human resources initiatives across all levels of the company. Canidae is embarking on a significant transformation under its new CEO, and the chief people officer is expected to be a key partner in driving a culture change, overhauling people practices and creating an organization that is broadly considered to be a best place to work.

The incoming leader must put fundamental HR processes in place before moving on to long-term goals such as culture development, talent & performance management, talent acquisition and strategy, said the search firm. “The ideal candidate will be looking to learn and develop beyond just climbing the corporate ladder and will have a strong perspective on the business beyond the people,” it noted.

Canidae is focused on best-quality ingredients for its pet food. More than 20 years ago, the company’s founders hand-delivered pet food from the backs of their pickup trucks. Now, Canidae offers several brands of pet food for both cats and dogs, made using the freshest, purest, safest ingredients. The company has about $100 million in annual revenue and close to 110 employees. Recent backing from L Catterton, a private equity firm, ensures that the company has the best available resources to grow.

Better Performance, Better Investment

“The overall market demand for HR leaders is elevated to an all-time high, and the private equity sector’s demand for these leaders is directly correlated,” Mr. Hanold said. “There are a few reasons for this: As the caliber of HR leaders continues to evolve, companies are investing in a contemporary HR leader earlier in the companies’ maturity cycle, and established companies are demanding more from their existing HR capability.”

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Also, he noted, the PE sector has come around to investing in the HR function differently than in the past. “While it used to focus the function on ripping out cost, there is now more focus on building high-performing teams, culturally integrating recent acquisitions, and driving higher levels of talent engagement. Companies with strong talent and cultures simply perform better, and in return, become a more valuable investment,” he said.

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Hanold Associates has been retained by private equity-backed companies Invitation Homes and Springs Window Fashions to lead their searches for heads of human resources in addition to this search for L Catterton. Over 70 percent of the search firm’s retained CHRO searches are for PE-backed companies. “Client private equity firms backing our search organizations have included Apollo, Blackstone, L Catterton, KKR, Warburg Pincus, Bain Capital, TPG, Vista Equity Partners, CD&R, Thoma Bravo, AEA, Golden Gate Capital, New Mountain, GTCR, Littlejohn, Oak Hill and Towerbrook Capital, among others,” said Mr. Hanold.

Some of Hanold’s more recent top HR searches include those for Domino’s Pizza, Under Armour, the National Football League, Patagonia, REI, UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), Gucci, Live Nation Entertainment, Northwestern University, Electronic Arts, Fiat-Chrysler, Kohler, TPG, Marvin Companies, SC Johnson, eBay, Great Place To Work, Heinz, Fossil, Vail Resorts, Edward Jones, AbbVie, Carnival Corp., Google, Biogen, Allstate, Bridgestone, Silicon Valley Bank, T. Rowe Price, Wikimedia, Cargill, CNA Financial, Cummins, Tyson, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, ClubCorp, Foundation Medicine, Deckers Outdoors (Ugg and Teva), CDW, Oaktree Capital and Nike, among others.

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Mr. Hanold previously 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. He founded his search firm a decade ago.

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Ms. Gavin, who joins in on this search, focuses on recruiting HR leaders in talent acquisition, organizational development, talent management, operations and total rewards. Mr. Parikh concentrates on recruiting across the human resources function. He first joined the firm as a summer intern and returned full time after graduating from Northwestern University.

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

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