Kick Off: NFL Taps Hanold Associates to Find Next CHRO

January 30, 2019 – Following a record-breaking year of recruiting top HR leadership into some of the best well-known brands across industry, Hanold Associates has just been tapped by the National Football League to lead its search for a new chief human resources officer (CHRO). Jason Hanold, CEO and managing partner of the Chicago-based recruiting outfit that bears his name, is leading the assignment which has kicked off just days before Super Bowl LIII.

The incoming leader will oversee all of the NFL’s HR functions including organizational design, leadership development, learning, benefits, compensation, employee and labor relations, HR operations, talent acquisition, and talent development. The right candidate will bring 20+ years of operating, financial and people leadership experience in consumer-centric, well-branded organizations.

Mr. Hanold recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the search, the importance of the role within the NFL, the supply and demand curve for top HR leaders, and some of his better known CHRO placements.


Jason, how are you handling this search and what type of candidates will you be seeking?

The League is continuing to transform and elevate the caliber of talent at all levels. The NFL needs a seasoned HR leader who is accustomed to driving tough conversations, and can balance their strategic perspective with an analytical capability and the ability to execute – all this while they continue to build the requisite infrastructure to support a significant transformation. Specific industry experience is less critical than the leadership characteristics required to be credible with and influential to an incredibly accomplished stakeholder group, including the 32 club owners.

How important is this role within the NFL?

A distinctive chief HR officer sets the tone, tempo, and behaviors that define the culture, and then the strategies, methodologies and practices to attract, retain and develop the organization’s talent. This, in turn, either elevates or erodes the company’s results, community, brand and profitability. Besides the CEO, no other C-suite position has more opportunity and potential to broadly impact the entire organization.

With the CHRO role evolving so much in recent years are there any new traits that companies seek in their incoming HR leaders?

The expectations continue to heighten as boards and CEOs become more sophisticated in their appreciation and understanding of what ‘great HR’ looks like and can accomplish. Today’s contemporary HR officer must possess ever deeper business acumen, and credibly voice substantial perspectives on the business beyond just people practices. Unfortunately, too many CEOs report that they simply want one who is ‘proactive’ in their approach. That is a pretty basic operational characteristic – it’s fundamental – and some still occupy that top role yet do not drive and own their results. More companies are thinking of the CHRO as a potential successor C-suite executive role, including that of the CEO. More are being recruited to public company boards. It’s more common to recruit CHROs who have had rotation into other areas of the business, and then coming back into HR. Fundamentally, we hear less about ‘new’ traits, and more about the lack of effective execution or a credible voice among other executive committee leaders. So the demand heightens for stronger leadership traits over different experiences.

“More companies are thinking of the CHRO as a potential successor C-suite executive role, including that of the CEO.”

Discuss the current supply and demand curve for CHROs.

The demand for exceptionally talented HR officers, both contemporary leaders and those with non-traditional backgrounds, is at an all-time high. Organizations with healthy, well-functioning cultures and higher caliber talent are mostly thriving, and CEOs across industries understand this key competitive advantage and potential for differentiation. With equally good news, the supply of truly distinctive HR leaders is better than ever. More companies are viewing HR as a key rotation in the development of their executives, with some choosing to remain aligned to HR because they understand the opportunity for major organizational impact.

Can you share some search work your firm has conducted for CHROs?

We lead CHRO and diversity searches across industries. In addition to the National Football League, some of our more recent CHRO searches include those for Under Armour, Patagonia, Mylan, REI, Vail Resorts, Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Blue Apron, Riddell, CDW, Laureate Education, Moderna Therapeutics, IT Cosmetics, Hanna Andersson, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Remitly, Carnival Corporation, Fossil, Marvin Windows & Doors, Outward Bound, Ferrara Candy, Foundation Medicine, Griffith Foods and Booking.com, lubCorp, Delta Defense, Western Dental, Heartland Dental and Sportsman’s Warehouse, among many others.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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