The Christopher Group Seeks CHRO for Black & Veatch

Recruiters Tom Christopher, Pam Noble, and Ayla Maloney are spearheading the search for this key role as the client partner embarks on a new operating model. This position will be critical in building an HR function focused on preserving the culture while enabling accountability and commercial orientation.

March 17, 2023 – More and more, chief executive officers have recognized the strategic role that the human resources function plays in the core strategic issues their companies face, including growth strategy, mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, increased board oversight, and evolving governance and reporting. HR can also ensure that clear changes are made to recruitment and capability-building processes by determining the characteristics of a “purpose driven” employee and embedding these attributes within recruitment, development, and succession planning.

At the same time, diversity and inclusion executives have emerged as key leaders during this period of transition. With a global workforce shifting in complexity, there is a growing need for diversity experts who can shape the vision, culture, and very face of organizations. Recruiting these senior leaders and their direct reports remains a key reason why search firms are so busy today.

The Christopher Group (TCG), a boutique HR executive search and business solutions recruiting firm, was recently selected to find a chief human resources officer for Black & Veatch, an employee-owned global engineering, procurement, consulting, and construction company with a more than 100-year track record of innovation in sustainable infrastructure. Co-founder Tom Christopher and managing partners Pam Noble and Ayla Maloney are leading the assignment.

“We are humbled and honored to have been selected to lead the nationwide search for the new head of human resources for Black & Veatch,” said Mr. Christopher. “This is an amazing HR leadership opportunity with an outstanding company that has a long history and proven track record of extraordinary successes.”

The chief human resources officer is the strategic and operational partner to the CEO during a pivotal and exciting part of the company’s journey as they embark on a new operating model, pushing the bounds of innovation and disrupting the industry, said the search firm. The CHRO is a business leader first, guiding and counseling the executive team through the expertise of human resources. The role will be critical in building an HR function focused on preserving the culture while enabling accountability and commercial orientation. The role will also be key in enhancing the effectiveness, comradery, and collaboration of a more recently assembled leadership team.

Black & Veatch is a 100-percent employee-owned global engineering, procurement, consulting, and construction company with a more than 100-year track record of innovation in sustainable infrastructure. Since 1915, the company has helped its clients improve the lives of people around the world by addressing the resilience and reliability of their most important infrastructure assets.

Veteran Recruiters

Founded in 1998 by Tom and Paula Christopher (former HR executives with GE, Pepsi, Progressive Insurance, and Citigroup), The Christopher Group is a boutique HR executive search and staffing solutions firms. TCG is staffed by former HR professionals and trained search practitioners who use proprietary, scientific and industry-leading systems, tools, and processes. The firm has offices in Willoughby, OH; Sarasota, FL; and Kansas City, MO.

Mr. Christopher has a personal practice focused primarily at the VP, SVP, and CHRO levels. He has completed executive HR searches with a diverse set of clients across multiple industry verticals including but not limited to Pepsi, Honeywell, Capital One, BP, Kraft, US Foods, Raytheon, Ingersoll-Rand, Vanderbilt University, Delaware North, CDW, Medco, Citigroup, Johns Hopkins University, Eastman Chemical, Comcast, and many others. With over 30 years of experience in human resources and executive search, his deep understanding of business strategy, organizational structures, and talent acquisition/ assessment/ development have allowed him to become an invaluable search and business partner to senior executives at an array of Fortune 500 organizations.

Related: Allen Institute Taps Christopher Group for Top HR Search

Ms. Noble is president of the HR consulting services division unit as well as practice leader for the firm’s expanding diversity, equity, inclusion, and engagement practice. She joined The Christopher Group leadership team as chief human resources officer and managing partner last year. She brings over 25 years of comprehensive human resources leadership to the firm. “I have had the privilege of knowing Pam for over 20 years,” said Mr. Christopher. “She is one of the finest and most capable HR executives nationwide. Additionally, her expertise in the areas of culture; change management; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and executive coaching is truly outstanding. Finally, she is a true servant leader.”

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Ms. Maloney, who is also The Christopher Group’s chief development officer, has been with firm for seven progressive years and sits on the leadership team. Before joining TCG, she spent over a decade in the food service industry as a divisional and organization-wide leader of culture, leadership development, and training. With TCG, she has partnered with clients such as Lamb Weston, Phillips 66, Quantum Health, California State University, Altria, Parker Hannifin, and others on opportunities across the HR spectrum, ranging from heads of HR to specialist roles. She also spearheads off-desk searches for finance, sales, and operations executives.

CHROs Stepping Up in Challenging Times

A recent survey of 230 CHROs by Emilie Petrone, managing partner of Korn Ferry’s Princeton, NJ office and a member of the firm’s human resources practice, explored how they are at the heart of today’s challenging work environment and how the pandemic is impacting their function. “The coronavirus challenge has put HR leaders front and center as they navigate everything from employee safety to personnel changes,” said the report. “These issues have brought to light the importance for HR organizations to continuously adjust and create a culture of trust and transparency. Indeed, the survey showed nearly a quarter of CHROs said their top priority was to create a culture of trust and transparency, followed by 21 percent who said they want to break down hierarchies and drive more agility.”

Ms. Petrone said that right now HR leaders are tasked with a massive strategic workforce planning balancing act. “They’re responsible for business viability and critical talent pipelines, organizational health and employee brand, both internally and externally,” she said. “They have to ensure ongoing engagement and performance while also managing the experience of employees who are not going to be part of the organization’s future. That’s a significant push and pull.”

The survey found that nearly half of CHROs (45 percent) think talent shortage and talent fit will have the greatest influence on their priorities going forward, and the pandemic has only reemphasized that thinking. While it’s too early to tell exactly how today’s business environment will affect long-term hiring trends, HR officers are already rethinking what their companies will need. “What we might have been looking for in leaders six months ago in a strong economy may be really different from what we need for the next 12, 24, or 36 months,” said Ms. Petrone. “Re-prioritized internal capabilities and redeploying the right leaders to the right roles will be critical.”

Upskilling current talent could become a much bigger priority for HR leaders in the future. According to the survey, 37 percent of the CHROs said upskilling the current workforce was the primary strategy for enabling success.

The global health crisis has shown that the future of work has invariably altered remote working, said the Korn Ferry report. Thirty percent of CHROs said leveraging digital tools was also key to employees’ success. While certain corporate cultures will prevail in needing people in the office, many HR leaders are already rethinking what collaboration and innovation look like in a post-pandemic digital era. “Shared workspaces and team space may not be viable, historic business models may need to transform, and the way work gets done and decisions get made, will be more critical to business success than ever before,” Ms. Petrone said.

Related: The Christopher Group Places CHRO for American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

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

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