Chief Human Resources Officer for a construction management group

A longtime Helbling client turned to us to support their strategic hiring of a Chief Human Resources Officer to help manage the organization's growth progression.
A top 10 contractor, as ranked by ENR (Engineering News-Record), and longtime client retained Helbling to initiate an executive search prior to a retirement from the organization. Its family of companies, reporting an annual revenue of $8B, provides a complete range of construction management services to clients.

The organization sought a Senior Vice President, Corporate Human Resources to oversee its global HR program for more than 3,300 employees, serve as a key advisor to the executive management team, and act as an executive participant on the group’s Board of Directors.

It was important to find candidates with HR leadership experience at organizations of similar or larger size and complexity in order to help direct continued efforts to grow the business, which had recently progressed from a family-owned construction firm to a major industry player. The ideal professional for the role would be innovative and able to evaluate and lead the current team intelligently as operations evolve. Sensitivity, empathy and relationship-building skills were also highly valued.

Following a detail-driven planning meeting with the client’s hiring team, Helbling representatives determined the goals and parameters of the search. Rather than publicizing and advertising the position, our team conducted discreet recruiting and networking efforts. They relied on recommendations from dozens of senior contacts across the United States.

Our search consultants researched appropriate talent within architecture, engineering, and construction firms as well as corporations of $500M or larger in separate industries, such as pharmaceutical and automotive, in order to generate a diverse and sophisticated candidate pool. Those in leadership roles with experience managing organic and/or acquisitive growth at multiple locations were of great interest to the hiring team.

The Chief Administrative Officer, who was previously placed at the organization by Helbling, served as the main point of contact for the group. With the incumbent HR executive still actively employed, he was able to offer our team an understanding of the role and provide insight into the evaluation of candidates. Helbling also interacted with the Chief Executive Officer during the review of finalist candidates as well as the Executive Chairman and a few members of the Board of Directors.

In the finalist stage, one candidate stood out from the rest. She was not actively looking for a new role but was identified and recruited as a passive candidate. With more than 20 years of experience at a large communications corporation, she has an unusual combination of technical aptitude, intellectual curiosity, and compassion.

Her impressive resume of progressive leadership involves overseeing programs in talent acquisition, labor relations—including training and development—diversity and inclusion, and workforce transformation. She also played an instrumental role in onboarding and retention through mergers and acquisitions. This knowledge is one of reasons the title was elevated from Senior Vice President to Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO).

The new CHRO has made quite an impact in a short time. Thanks in part to the assistance of the retiring Senior VP, she transitioned smoothly and quickly to the new role. 

She participates in quarterly business reviews with the executive leadership team and has gained budgetary approval to automate and scale HR systems for current needs and future growth. She is involved in growth initiatives that are organic as well as acquisition and integration activity. Caring about the opinions of employees and aspiring to make positive procedural and cultural improvements, she is launching a new employee engagement survey through the Gallup organization. Another priority is to improve diversity throughout the family of companies.

Learn about Helbling’s search process