One of the world’s most sophisticated electrical engineering firms with nearly $1B in revenue (2017) and ranked 20 on ENR’s Engineering Rankings is looking to take a big step forward in its pursuit of continued excellence and growth. The firm has embraced a mentality of change and is investing in leadership at the top of the organization to achieve this evolution.

While the engineering and project delivery capabilities of the firm are well-regarded, many of the other functions at the firm have not scaled with the demands and complexity of the organization. The Human Resources function was relatively small – 8 staff members led by a Senior Director for over 3,000 employees in offices both domestically and internationally. Basic HR functions, like compensation, benefits, and compliance were well-functioning, but the firm lacked centralized recruiting, talent management, talent brand management, learning and development, and long-term strategy. Working with senior executives, business unit leaders, senior managers, and the general employee population to craft a comprehensive Human Resources function would require extensive leadership from the top of the organization to deliver on this mandate.

The firm recognized the major challenge, and thus retained Chris Swan, Global Practice Leader for Construction, Engineering, Architecture and Real Estate of TRANSEARCH International to lead the search effort. Chris was selected to lead this difficult search assignment due to his long-term relationship with the executive team, its deep experience in engineering and construction, and its extensive knowledge of the Washington D.C. talent market.

After a comprehensive kick-off using the TRANSEARCH Orxestra method, recruiting began. Chris led a recruiting team of three to reach out to 115 candidates. Several strong candidates emerged, including some that had moved from engineering to HR after years in the trenches. An emphasis was placed on the ability to drive strategy into the function of the business, change management, candor, resilience, and culture fit with the leadership team of the organization. After several months of recruiting, the executive team felt they had met strong candidates, but “no one that really wows us.”

Luckily, TRANSEARCH was conducting a similar Chief Human Resources Offices / VP Human Resources search for another contracting firm in a different part of the country. That other search slowed down due to internal changes at the company and restructuring of a division. One of the top candidates in this search was actively exploring several opportunities and moved on from the CHRO position when it slowed down. TRANSEARCH made an introduction to the leadership team at the firm, and after several conversations with the leadership team, successfully placed him with the company.

The placed candidate has extensive experience in building Human Resource functions from scratch, initiating change management programs, implementing new programs and systems, and building a strong team around him. He is well regarded by his former employers and will make a tremendous impact at his new home. It was clear that he fit the move-fast culture of the company because he jumped into working meetings several weeks ahead of his start date so he could catch up to speed with the rest of the organization.