October 3, 2019 – Retail-focused executive search firm Kirk Palmer Associates has launched a dedicated human resources practice, which will be led by multi-industry HR-veteran Catherine Savoca.
The new practice will draw on more than 30 years of firsthand people, operations and business development experience to help leading organizations identify senior HR professionals who understand the businesses they support and people as a complex resource within unique company cultures.
“We’re thrilled by the appointment of Catherine Savoca to the role of vice president and head of this new practice,” said Kirk Palmer, eponymous founder and CEO. “Cathy is a hardworking, creative and highly-organized leader who will undoubtedly serve as a trusted partner and advisor to CEOs and HR leaders seeking best-in-class HR talent.”
“In this turbulent retail environment, businesses increasingly need quality C-suite HR representation to apply intelligent people strategies to critical business imperatives,” said Ms. Savoca. “In launching this practice, our firm is positioned to expand our vast candidate community and connect a growing number of HR business leaders with the world’s most compelling brands.”
In her former role as chief of staff to the CEO at Kirk Palmer, Ms. Savoca learned the “KPA Way,” she said, which values the investment that the firm’s clients make in their people. She supports her clients in identifying the right leaders for a wide range of executive roles in human resources and senior administrative functions.
Since its founding in 1987, Kirk Palmer Associates has grown globally, helping retailers hire CEOs, presidents and front-of-house executives spanning a wide array of marketing, merchandising, stores, sales, eCommerce and digital leadership roles. “The expansion into people operations marks a significant milestone for the firm,” Mr. Palmer said. With offices in New York, San Francisco and London, Kirk Palmer’s dedicated human resources practice will serve a diverse global clientele.
Kirk Palmer Associates is made up of retail and fashion industry veterans. The firm’s partners have placed more than 1,000 CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and other senior executives at over 200 retail and wholesale companies across all channels, sectors and functional areas.
Retailers are facing major shifts in their businesses that call for “unprecedented responses” by CEOs who can effectively lead through change, intuitively and analytically understand the evolving consumer and respond to ambiguity, according to Korn Ferry. Developed markets, excess retail capacity, rising prices, the shift to omni-channel retail and the unpredictable pace of change in consumer shopping habits all affect the type of leader retailers now need.
Transformational chief executives are regarded as innovative leaders with a world view. And they are clearly in high demand. Herbert Mines Associates, a recruitment firm that specializes in the retail and consumer areas, recently reported that 31 percent of incoming retail CEOs consider international expansion a key strategic priority, making that global mindset a competitive differentiator. Many of the search firm’s short lists now include executives with this background.
In recent years, 47 percent of public retail companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion underwent a chief executive change (up from 34 percent during the previous three years). During the past 10 years, 71 percent of retail companies have experienced a switch in CEO. That’s good news for recruiters mining the space for search work.
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