Visit us at: www.vfandco.com

May 2015

Valerie Frederickson & Company

How To Have Chief People Officers and CHRO's Fall In Love with You

A Letter from Valerie:

As Part II of sharing my wisdom on closing the HR search deal, I spent hours narrowing down the best set of interview questions for CEO, CFO, and Board clients to use, gleaned from 20 years of experience running what has now become the leading HR/People/Talent/Culture executive search firm in the US. What I realized going through this exercise is that it might be more helpful to share some straight talk at a strategic level. So, here's what every CEO and hiring manager of the HR function should know:

  1. Whether you chose to call it the SVP or VP or Head of Human Resources, People, Culture, People Operations, People and Success, Talent, etc., it's about attracting, making productive, compensating, and retaining employees. What makes the difference is how strategic you want this person to be. Part of this depends on how willing you are to give up control and let your new Head of People make budgetary decisions and non-budgetary decisions that impact the culture of your organization.
  2. The two biggest reasons why Vice Presidents of HR quit their jobs after a short period of time are: 1) because the CEO sold the HR executive on the strategy side of the job, but really just wants HR to execute on his own ideas; and 2) because the CEO promised high growth, a big budget, and the ability to put in a team, thus freeing up the HR executive from having to do all the administrative stuff her/himself, but the money disappeared and the new HR head was left practically typing her/his own offer letters and signing employees up for health insurance. Morals of these stories: 1) Only say you want strategic HR if you are ready to change and to have everything in your company change. Otherwise, replace "strategic" with "smart"; and 2) If you hire a Head of HR for high growth but due to lack of funding or deals have to temper back your growth, either get them involved in other aspects of HR or the business, or plan on losing them.
  3. Due to the War for Talent, anyone who can help you put in the systems and processes to hire lots of employees and can actually help do that is in great demand. The best Human Resources and Talent Acquisition candidates are getting up to 10 or 20 hits through LinkedIn a week, and when they decide to interview, are usually in play with three-to-five companies simultaneously. They will chose to accept an offer working for the CEO who seems the best cultural fit for them. HR executives don't accept jobs based on pay: they make their decisions based on how much they like the CEO. Moral of the story: Be likable and respectful, and don't diss HR.
  4. Good manners count. Show up on time for the interview; don't arrive late or be a no-show. Read their resume beforehand, check out the HR candidate on LinkedIn, see who you know in common, and develop a list of specific interview questions for the candidate, in addition to a list of ways that s/he could contribute either "smartly" or "strategically" to your business. If it's a great candidate, and they all should be, consider rolling out the red carpet and making the first interview a business lunch or dinner at a hot restaurant. One of my CEO clients decided to leave his family and drive 90 miles on a Sunday to conduct a first interview with a candidate for his CHRO role. This was a hot candidate and he wanted to make the investment. Did he end up successfully hiring this candidate, one of the most highly respected and sought after HR executives in Silicon Valley? You bet.
  5. Don't act like a Know-It-All. Show some charm and vulnerability, and engage in a respectful two-way discussion with the candidates. The worst case scenario is a CEO client of mine who, after months of interviews, was in his final meeting with his top candidate and blew it by telling the CHRO candidate during a discussion on budgets: "I don't believe you. I'm going to call some friends and see what they say the budget should be." The candidate walked out of there angry and, two days later, accepted an offer from another pre-IPO company that ended up having one of the top performances of the year and grew from 190 to over 1,000 employees in 18 months. Does the candidate regret backing out of the process? No way. Has that CEO ever hired and kept a Head of HR? Nope.
  6. In addition to a strong CEO, candidates are looking for a strong executive team—with emphasis on team. Be sure your staff is in agreement on what you are collectively looking for in a successful candidate and what the expectations are for HR. Remind them about the 'War for Talent' and make sure that when they meet with the candidate, they are selling the company and the opportunity.
  7. If you aren't prepared to interview for the role, ask for help. Right now, we're doing a Head of People and Culture search on the East Coast for an executive team that's never had someone strategic leading the function. To help them get ready to interview, we're setting up three or four coaching sessions with real HR leaders in similar industries who've done high growth. In these sessions, the HR executives will share their ideas, how they've structured HR, what they recommend, and any other insights. After these meetings, plus a fleshing-out of strategy with our executive search partner, our clients will be in great shape to be the company of choice for the hot candidates.

Take care,



P.S. For those of you who want the list of Best Interview Questions to ask HR/People/Talent/Culture Leaders, email me.

Current Executive Searches

HR Executive Searches

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  • Chief Human Resources Officer
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  • The locations

  • Santa Clara, California (HQ), North America, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Integration into a multinational parent company while keeping their individual identity and culture
  • Exciting note

  • $200M in revenue with headcount growth of 250% by end of year
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  • Chief People Officer
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  • One of the key players in the online job search marketplace
  • The locations

  • San Francisco, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
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  • Strategize and execute on aggressive growth plans as the company completes its next round of funding
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  • Build your own HR team, from Talent Acquisition to Learning & Development to Total Rewards to Business Partners
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  • Vice President of HR
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  • Menlo Park, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
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  • This role is tasked with creating the first shake-up to internal people policies in almost two decades!
  • Exciting note

  • The opportunity to work with the foremost minds in biomedical sciences, chemistry and materials, computing, sensing and devices, Earth and space systems, economic development, education and learning, energy and environmental technology, and security and national defense
  • The role

  • Vice President of HR
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  • The locations

  • Savannah, Georgia (main campus), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Bring technology and innovation to the non-profit, education sphere
  • Exciting note

  • Support a group of dedicated professors as they inspire creative young minds
  • The role

  • Vice President of HR
  • The company

  • Billion-dollar, 10,000 employee, global technology conglomerate
  • The locations

  • Sunnyvale, CA (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Define and build your own HR team to help you support the quickest-pivoting business unit within this organization
  • Exciting note

  • With a newly released 'Buy' rating, this tech conglomerate is poised to revisit the high of its hey-day in short order
  • The role

  • Head of HR
  • The company

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  • The locations

  • Chicago, Illinois (HQ), Seattle, Washington, North America
  • Top challenges

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  • The role

  • Head of Talent Management
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  • The locations

  • East Bay (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

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  • Exciting note

  • Leave a solid footprint on the global HR organization for years to come
  • The role

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  • Big data, analytics and SaaS company
  • The locations

  • Redwood City, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Rethink employer branding as the worldwide headquarters shifts to Silicon Valley
  • Exciting note

  • The relocation of HQ will give you the opportunity to revamp the global TA function from the ground up
  • The role

  • Head of Global Talent Acquisition
  • The company

  • One of the fastest growing, most respected global SaaS companies
  • The locations

  • San Francisco, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Partnering with the executive team to lead rapid growth trajectory and create a global best-in-class talent program
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  • The role

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  • The locations

  • Redwood City, California (HQ), North America, EMEA
  • Top challenges

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  • Exciting note

  • Partnering with a visionary, dynamic leadership team to radically improve the health and lives of people across the globe
  • The role

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  • The company

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  • The locations

  • San Diego, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Solve the war for talent for the fastest-growing business unit in this biotech
  • Exciting note

  • This role will have the opportunity to strategize with corporate on impending global growth plans in Latin and South America and the APAC region!
  • The role

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  • The company

  • Big data, analytics and SaaS company
  • The locations

  • Redwood City, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

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  • Exciting note

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  • The role

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  • The company

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  • The locations

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  • Top challenges

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  • Exciting note

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  • The role

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  • The locations

  • East Bay (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
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  • The role

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  • The company

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  • The locations

  • San Diego, California (HQ), North America, South America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Support a third of the company in the fastest-growing business unit
  • Exciting note

  • This firm focuses on women's health and continues to drive innovation in the space
  • The role

  • Director, HR Business Partner
  • The company

  • Billion-dollar global engineering and financial services company
  • The locations

  • San Mateo (HQ), California, North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Support the media business unit of a household name
  • Exciting note

  • The stock price has more than doubled in the past five years alone!
  • The role

  • Diversity Lead, People Engagement Operations
  • The company

  • The largest social media company in the world
  • The locations

  • Menlo Park, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Strategize on global diversity programs with a focus on retention and professional development
  • Exciting note

  • Be part of the team that truly redefines diversity for the tech and global business community as a whole
  • The role

  • Diversity Lead, Operations Strategist
  • The company

  • Multi-billion dollar global social media company
  • The locations

  • Menlo Park, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Strategize on global diversity programs with a focus on talent acquisition
  • Exciting note

  • Be part of the team that truly redefines diversity for the tech and global business community as a whole
  • The role

  • Head of Diversity & Inclusion
  • The company

  • Billion dollar, profitable global media company
  • The locations

  • Sunnyvale, California (HQ), North America, APAC, EMEA
  • Top challenges

  • Build on a success global diversity program, strategizing on future growth
  • Exciting note

  • Though it often flies under the radar compared to the brand names, this company ranks as one of the most diverse and inclusive globally

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HR Consultant & Contractor's Corner

Our hottest global HR contracting and consulting assignments include:

  • Providing Venture Capital and Private Equity Talent Partners with HR executive search, HR advisory, and compensation consulting expertise for their portfolio companies
  • Executive leadership mentoring and on-call support for CEO’s, CFO’s and HR managers at start-up companies in tech hubs that include San Francisco, San Mateo, Mountain View (Silicon Valley), Seattle, Chicago, New York, Salt Lake City, Boise, Washington DC, London, Berlin and Singapore
  • HR assessment for multiple startups ready to shore up their infrastructure before taking their businesses through a high growth stage or IPO
  • Coaching executive teams through strategic planning for their leadership development function including succession planning and creating career development paths and retention plans for high potentials
  • Interim Head of HR assignments with pre-IPO companies in software analytics, digital advertising, big data, biotech, and cloud-based service companies
  • HR advising for several European and Asian headquartered companies interested in relocating their global headquarters or building regional headquarters in San Francisco/Silicon Valley
  • Comprehensive review of compensation programs for post-IPO tech companies, including benchmarking and redesigning of short and long-term incentive plans
  • Customized, high-touch outplacement projects for pre-IPO and mid-sized companies in the midst of restructuring or integrating acquisitions

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HR Events

GO World at Work Total Rewards 2015 Conference
May 18-20, 2015 – Minneapolis, MN

GOThe Conference Board 21st Annual Leadership Development Conference
June 4-5, 2015 – Chicago, IL

GOLinkedIn Talent Connect
October 13-15, 2015 – Anaheim, CA

GO Human Capital Institute 2015 Talent Acquisition Innovation Forum
November 4-5, 2015 – Los Angeles, CA

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About VF&Co

Valerie Frederickson & Company (VF&Co) is a human resource executive search, HR consulting and corporate outplacement firm known for helping clients build and sustain winning teams in today´s rapidly changing marketplace. Since 1995, VF&Co specializes in creating customized solutions to meet an organization´s human resource needs at every stage and size from start–up to Global 500.

Outplacement Practice

Re–evaluating your outplacement vendors? Require a higher utilization rate for your outplacement dollar? Need higher touch services and consistency across all markets? Since 1995, VF&Co is the outplacement firm of choice for sophisticated corporate buyers. Join the numerous Fortune 500 employers and small firms who have selected us over their previous vendor and are now enjoying the best of both worlds: each employee well taken care of, and consistency in every city.

Price shopping or need to customize a program? Contact our Corporate Outplacement Team at 650-614-0220 or email them at outplacement@vfandco.com for more information on our outplacement services.

HR Consulting Practice

With the dramatic increase of global technology outsourcing and the continued geographic dispersion of corporate teams, the need for international human resources strategy, design, and project implementation has increased. Our global team of HR consultants has the specialized skills and breadth of expertise to develop and lead your initiatives—saving you time, money, and resources. We can manage the international recruiting function, help you hire key local managers or an entire startup team in an overseas market, and establish HR systems for global expansion.

Why clients choose VF&Co:

  • Results-driven, value-oriented. To keep your HR programs in line with your corporate direction, we provide HR strategy, cost-effective HR infrastructure, and pragmatic HR advice across all critical areas of human resource management.
  • Any size, any stage. We draw upon years of experience with startups, midsize firms and large global enterprises to guide our clients strategically through any stage of growth.
  • Work smarter, not harder. In survey after survey, CEO's say the number-one issue keeping them up at night is "people problems." We help you solve them so that you can get back to focusing on your business.

Contact our HR Consulting Team at 650.614.0220 or email them at consulting@vfandco.com for more information on our HR consulting services

HR Executive Search Practice

Why clients choose VF&Co as their human resources-specialized executive search firm:

  • Prompt results. The average time from start of search to presentation of the winning HR candidate is 21 days. 50% of HR searches are completed in less than 45 days.
  • Superior results. More than 95% of HR executives placed by VF&Co are still with their companies five years following placement.
  • High client satisfaction. More than 90% of the firm's work is either repeat business or from referrals. A number of clients have been with VF&Co for more than a decade.

You get:

  • Access to the best global human resources executive talent available through extensive networks built upon long–term relationships with U.S. and global executives
  • Customized HR executive search solutions that fit your goals, budget and timeline
  • Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition

Interim HR management during the search process, followed by an assimilation period to ensure a smooth transition Contact our human resources executive search team at 650.614.0220 or email us at executivesearch@vfandco.com to learn how your organization can reap the benefits VF&Co can deliver: Improved performance and greater success through your most valuable asset—your people.

Diversity Statement

VF&Co welcomes and encourages all diversity candidates to contact us directly. We highly value the diversity of our VF&Co team, placement of diverse executives into our client companies and our diverse clients, candidates, and supplier partnerships. We want to help swing the pendulum the other way.

About Our Newsletter

The VF&Co newsletter, "VF&Co In the Know," and VF&Co Executive Search Update are the intellectual property of Valerie Frederickson & Company. They are a free resource to business professionals. To subscribe to this newsletter, email newsletter@vfandco.com.

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