Koya Leadership Partners Tapped to Find CHRO for Saint Joseph’s University

A 168-year old university in Philadelphia enlists a top search firm to find a new CHRO. Koya Leadership Partners’ Amy Sugin joins Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the search and the type of leader she is seeking to fill this top HR post. Let’s go inside the search!

February 6, 2019 – Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) has selected Koya Leadership Partners to find an experienced, effective and creative leader for the position of chief human resources officer (CHRO). Koya vice president Amy Sugin is leading the search along with consultant Charlotte Harris.

The CHRO role will be responsible for the development and implementation of human resource policies and practices that are effective, innovative and responsive, and is charged with leading the university in attracting and retaining a high-performing, diverse and productive workforce in support of its mission, its Jesuit, Catholic tradition and its long-term strategic goals.

As a critical member of the president’s university leadership council, this position will provide leadership in advancing faculty and staff success, as well as develop the policies and best practices necessary to maintain a positive, supportive and fair working environment that attracts, develops, supports, and retains a qualified, high-performing, and diverse workforce, said Koya Leadership Partners.

Desired Traits

Saint Joseph’s University is seeking a candidate with strong knowledge of human resource functions and technology, including extensive experience in organizational behavior, employee relations, compensation, benefits and employee development, said the search firm. Prospects must have a proven record of success in managing organizational change, talent recruitment, development, performance management and retention.

It is important that the incoming leader has “experience leading system-wide and expansive talent recruitment and retention initiatives which actively invest in high-potential talent identified through a disciplined performance management and succession planning process,” Koya said.

Related: An Up-Close Look at the Transformational Role of the CHRO

Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic university that provides a rigorous education rooted in the liberal arts. The Saint Joseph’s education encompasses all aspects of personal growth and development — demanding high achievement, deepening understanding, strengthening reasoning and communication skills, and developing moral character.

Proven Recruiters

Boston-based Koya Leadership Partners is a national executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education, and social enterprises. This year, the firm was again recognized by Hunt Scanlon Media as one of the top 50 search firms in the Americas.


Why the Partnership with Chief Human Resource Officers Matters

Anyone with the ties to the human resources function knows how much it has evolved in recent years – and with it the role of the chief human resources officer. The biggest shift seen is in how the CHRO has progressed from fighting for a seat at the table to playing a key role on the executive team. According to executive recruiters who ply their trade placing some of the best ones in the field, a great CHRO can be one of the most vital strategic human assets a company can have – closely partnering with the CEO and CFO.

In addition, 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 kicked off just days before Super Bowl LIII. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.


A hallmark of Koya’s education practice is the range of institutions with which it has partnered: private and public; selective liberal arts colleges, large research universities and academic medical centers; mission-driven, faith-based; rising and established. The practice’s recruiters’ backgrounds include decades of experience in academic budget and administration, finance and administration, executive education, student affairs, international programs, human resources and academic work in the fields of philosophy and biological sciences, higher education, non-profit and private sectors.

Ms. Sugin has over two decades of higher education administration experience in enrollment management, program management, and international education. She joined Koya after serving as principal at Neumann Executive Search (formerly, Brill Neumann Associates) when the two firms merged. Ms. Sugin has led searches for Carnegie Mellon University, Fordham University, Rutgers, Yale, New York University, University of North Carolina, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Dayton, among others.

Related: Here’s Why Game Changing CHRO Talent Is In Big Demand

Ms. Harris focuses on all aspects of the search process, including project management, candidate development and client support to Koya’s higher education team. Prior to joining Koya, she was a key member of the administrative team at Lois L. Lindauer Searches, where she worked closely with management and search teams and provided project coordination and behind-the-scenes logistics support.

Ms. Sugin recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the search for St. Joe’s next CHRO as well as some other top HR searches Koya has conducted for leading universities.

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Amy, what type of HR leader are you seeking for Saint Joseph’s University?

The successful candidate will be a seasoned human resources professional with at least 10 years of experience and a record of increasingly responsible leadership positions in human resources and its functions. The next CHRO will have a proven record of success and knowledge of current human resource best practices in organizational development, employee relations, talent management, change management and assessment. The candidate should be an experienced leader of people with an ability to attract and mentor staff and to elicit a high-quality service orientation from a team.

Where will you be searching?

We are seeking candidates both within and outside of education. In addition to higher education, candidates may come from healthcare, private industry, government and elsewhere.

“We are seeking candidates both within and outside of education. In addition to higher education, candidates may come from healthcare, private industry, government and elsewhere.”

What makes this an appealing role for potential candidates? 

In 2017, Saint Joseph’s University’s president Mark Reed launched the school’s “Thinking Anew, Acting Anew” strategic plan, grounded in its strong Jesuit intellectual heritage and mission. It challenges the institution to reimagine the academic enterprise and the total student experience to advance national recognition through reputation-defining programs and build the endowment and resources needed to make an SJU education accessible to more students. This is a unique opportunity for the chief human resources officer to join Saint Joseph’s University at a defining moment in its history, as it charts the course to its future.

How does the CHRO role differ for a university rather than for a corporation?

In many ways the CHRO role at a university is quite similar to that at a corporation in the scope of the functions that human resources oversees. Like in many corporations, human capital at a university is a major expense, and a strong CHRO can be viewed as a trusted partner by leadership in order to further and attain overall goals. Historically, however, corporations have invested earlier and more in developing strategic HR organizations, and have traditionally thought more about succession planning and about developing high potential employees over a longer time period. This is changing, and we see more and more universities hiring strategic HR leaders to think more broadly about lifecycles of employees and their development within and across departments. At the same time, decisions in higher education are generally more collaborative than they are in corporate organizations, leading change to sometimes come more slowly.

Can you share some other CHRO searches that Koya has handled?

HR searches are a hallmark of our firm. In addition to many such searches across the mission-driven organization landscape, we are currently partnering on searches for higher education CHRO roles at the Catholic University of America, Skidmore College and the Maryland Institute College of Art. And in the recent past, Koya consultants have led CHRO searches for Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark University, Fordham University, George Mason University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Pennsylvania State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Related: An Up-Close Look at the Transformational Role of the CHRO

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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