ZRG Recruits CHRO for NextEdge Networks

December 15, 2021 – ZRG, a leading search firm backed by private equity firm RFE Investment Partners, has assisted in the recruitment of LeighAnn Schell as chief human resources officer (CHRO) for NextEdge Networks in San Francisco. Managing director Kevin Anderson led the assignment. “NextEdge Networks is a part of the Platform Partners Portfolio, a firm I have done multiple projects for over the years,” said Mr. Anderson. “NextEdge is at the forefront of the 5G rollout by deploying this new network across the country. With these strong market conditions, NextEdge has an aggressive growth strategy that includes a robust M&A strategy.”

“Chris Maguire, CEO of NextEdge, needed an HR business partner with wireless communications and private equity experience,” Mr. Anderson said. “However, with the acquisition of three companies in one year, Chris needed someone who could lead the integration of these acquisitions. Fortunately, ZRG’s private equity practice has a long track record of finding the right talent for our clients.”

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Ms. Schell is an innovative and results oriented executive with over 20 years of experience in a variety of industries. Focused on global expansion and growth with experience in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. She has global experience in  large-scale organizational change; corporate mergers/acquisitions/integrations; human capital strategy development; leadership development and organizational effectiveness; and the assessment, development, selection and retention of talent. Most recently, Ms. Schell served as chief people officer of Evoque Data Center Solutions. Prior to that, she served in VP of HR roles with Ericsson, Abercrombie & Fitch, and First Data Corp.

NextEdge Networks solves the challenges faced in improving wireless coverage inside a company’s buildings. To increase wireless utility, the company provides RF design, cabling design and installation, equipment requirements, equipment instillation, system optimization and maintenance, as well as optional financing.

ZRG, founded in 1999, is a progressive mid-sized global executive search firm and one of the fastest growing in the search industry. It provides a full suite of executive, middle-management, and customized search solutions through its offices in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. The firm finds leaders across a broad spectrum of business markets, including aerospace, consumer, education, healthcare services and solutions, industrial, life sciences, non-profit, private equity and venture capital, and technology.

Related: Allen Institute Taps Christopher Group for Top HR Search

Mr. Anderson, a managing director in ZRG’s Dallas office, is a member of the global technology practice. His focus is in the communications, software and hardware industries within private equity portfolio companies. Mr. Anderson specializes in board-driven executive searches, including board directors, CEOs, CFOs and other C-suite executives, as well as private equity investment professionals and operating partners. While his search experience spans a range of technology sectors, Mr. Anderson’s core expertise is in communications, hardware and software. He has over 25 years of experience in senior-level executive search.

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 the role’s place 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.”

Changing Needs

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: Carrington & Carrington Retained by Amherst College to Recruit CHRO

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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