HR Leaders See New Career Path As Executive Recruiters

March 2, 2016 – Executive search firm Salveson Stetson Group has added executive HR veteran Michael A. Biondolillo as senior vice president in the firm’s Radnor, PA office. In his new role, Mr. Biondolillo will manage and conduct executive level search assignments for clients across a range of functions and industry sectors.

Mr. Biondolillo brings with him more than 30 years of human resource executive leadership experience across industries, including financials, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and multimedia ecommerce retailing.

Most recently, he served as senior vice president of HR for Henkel Corporation – Americas, which operates leading brands and technologies in home and beauty care as well as adhesive technologies. 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.

Mr. Biondolillo is at the forefront of a trend among top ranking HR executives reestablishing themselves as executive recruiters in recent months.

“As I planned my retirement from Henkel Corporation and entered the next chapter of my life, I wanted to stay engaged in the human capital world,” said Mr. Biondolillo. “Since the early days of my career, I’ve always had a strong passion for identifying, recruiting, developing and retaining talented leaders. I’ve had considerable executive search experience as both a client and candidate, and saw first-hand how crucial finding outstanding leaders is for achieving sustainable business success.”

Mr. Biondolillo said he has built a strong network of HR and business leaders across organizations and industries that would be helpful in the search process. “As a result, I felt that this profession was a perfect opportunity to bring my expertise in, and passion for, leadership development to a search firm and its clients.”

Earlier this month, 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 chief human resources officer (CHRO) leading talent and people-related activities for Bloomberg’s enterprise division. He formerly served as global head of talent acquisition at Thomson Reuters.

“After managing large global talent acquisition functions for the two biggest names in financial market data, Bloomberg & Thomson Reuters, I felt the timing was right to move back into a role that highlights the core of the recruiting function, finding the best people for business critical roles,” said Mr. Budriss.

“Moving back to the search world has enabled me to focus on that primary objective at an industry level, taking advantage of the relationships I have developed over the past 20 years with clients and candidates alike.”

Mr. Budriss said the opportunity at Sheffield Haworth enabled him to harness the depth and breadth of his experience in the marketplace. “In my experience, the HR department has increasingly become a critical-path function for the businesses it supports,” he said.

“Increasingly, the HR executive’s understanding of the commercial part of the business has become the differentiator in developing world-class HR programs such as compensation, talent management & acquisition, organizational-development, and learning & risk, among others which truly work for an organization.”

He said he is seeing a number of HR executives move into key business leadership positions. And, he said, “I have also noticed some movement of senior HR executives into both pure search as well as consulting as a way to refocus their skill set to a wider audience.”

Another search firm, Summative Executive Search, recently named a top talent acquisition leader to its executive recruiter rank and file. George Hotter brings talent acquisition and strategic human resource leadership experience to the firm from both fast-growing private venture technology companies and the global public companies that acquire them. Previously, he served as worldwide talent acquisition leader at IBM, where he led the worldwide talent acquisition strategy and execution for the critical strategic growth areas of cloud, analytics, security and sales.

“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 accelHRate, an executive search firm focused on the 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.”

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.

“The role of CHROs and their direct reports continues to evolve in terms of complexity and impact,” said Ms. Shanahan. “These leaders are at the heart of linking business strategy with talent strategy and have an enormous amount of levers to work with these days. A strong HR organization is optimizing data/analytics, systems, talent development & management, talent acquisition, change management, workforce planning, M&A due diligence & integration, risk, succession planning, and total rewards, among other areas.” Those competencies and perspectives, she said, can easily transfer into effective executive recruiting skill-sets.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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