Northwestern University seeks a collaborative and proven leader to serve as Vice President for Human Resources (VPHR). Reporting directly to the Senior Vice President for Business and Finance, the VPHR has responsibility for the management and operation of Northwestern University’s Office of Human Resources and for providing overall strategic leadership for human resources at Northwestern. With a highly collaborative leadership team and an engaged and knowledgeable staff, the incoming VPHR will drive the implementation of HR strategies and initiatives that align with Northwestern’s mission, and will position the institution as an employer of choice by instituting best practices from within the field of human resources and organizational development.
The Vice President for Human Resources is responsible for comprehensive and strategic leadership in all aspects of the human resources function for the university. The incoming VPHR will join a senior leadership team as a collaborative partner providing solutions and guidance as the organization continues to enhance service orientation, technological innovation, and efficient deployment of resources toward the university’s strategy.
The VPHR will foster an environment within human resources of strategic thinking and planning, consulting with users and integrating human resources throughout the university to support and build on the highest qualities of the faculty and staff. Working with the Senior VP, the VPHR will assess all human resource functions and systems to maximize the efficiency of resource allocation.
This is an exciting position for a talented human resource professional who wishes to make a significant contribution to strengthening the quality of services and processes through which the university recruits and retains the best faculty, administrators, and staff. The VPHR will be a credible and influential leader, mentor, and developer of strong cross-functional teams; will demonstrate a commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment; and will maintain a record of success in managing large scale organizational change.
In 2017 Northwestern undertook a staff engagement survey which identified both areas of strength according to Northwestern employees (reputation, rewards and recognition, benefits) and identified areas of opportunity (career development, technology and diversity and inclusion). With campus partners including the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council (NUSAC); and working groups of business officers and human resource professionals across campus, the VPHR works collaboratively to address staff engagement and satisfaction across a highly complex, matrixed organization.
While Human Resources is centralized at Northwestern, a number of the larger academic and administrative units within the university have independent administrative functions, some of which include a human resources component. Further developing and optimizing the levels of service experienced across campus will be a priority for the incoming VPHR.
The VPHR will lead an organization of 97 individuals, with 5 current direct reports covering the areas of Benefits, HR Operations, Payroll & Tax, Talent Acquisition, HR Business Partners, Employee/Labor Relations, Compensation, Learning and Organizational Development, and joint oversight to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access in the Office of Equity. The unit has a current operating budget of $8.8 million. The unit has oversight over benefit program design and administration, with a budget of $300 million.
The VPHR will work collaboratively with the deans and the provost’s staff on faculty onboarding and support through a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs of the different faculty/researcher roles at Northwestern. As a partner with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and in close collaboration with unit directors and managers creating and managing Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans, the VPHR will serve as a thought leader and driver for fostering a community that proactively welcomes and honors all its members.
Initial priorities for the individual in this role are:
Assess all human resource functions and systems, determining whether resource expenditures and utilization are adequate and appropriate. Balance the priorities and be open to thoughtfully redesigning functions and processes.
Assess and create, as necessary, improved data analytics around work force metrics that can assist in the design and implementation of more effective compensation and benefits for faculty and staff, as well as more effective service delivery.
Conduct a comprehensive review of the University’s benefit programs, including options for creative health insurance partnerships with Northwestern Medicine, the affiliated partner of Northwestern University.
Develop an affordable, phased approach to renew and upgrade the University’s information technology platform for its human resources functions. The current system platforms (Peoplesoft 9.2) are reaching end of life, and the University expects funding capacity to be available within three years (FY 2022) to begin the upgrade process. Determination of priorities, renewal approach and implementation plan in conjunction with the University’s technology organization will be a critical part of this process.
Strengthen a competent Office of Human Resources, with a focus on operational effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction while demonstrating the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
Evaluate the coordination of human resource services for faculty and all other academic rank personnel with the University’s Office of the Provost and school representatives to assure the most appropriate organization of service delivery to assist in the recruitment and retention of faculty and all other academic rank personnel.
Participate in the evaluation of relocation options for current HR functions which are currently in disparate locations on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.
The successful candidate will have extensive human resources leadership experience at an executive level with a track record of aligning organizational structure to optimal service objectives of the organization while leading a team to deliver on these goals. The next VPHR will lead by example in demonstrating trust, open communication, compassion, enthusiasm, and encouragement.
The Human Resources VP will have a servant-leader focus in a University community which is highly distributed in terms of stakeholders, and will have a demonstrated teamwork orientation in a shared governance model. Higher education experience is preferred, but not essential. Rather, demonstrated experience in comparable complex, service intensive environments is essential.
In addition, the incoming VPHR will possess many of the following abilities, attributes, and experiences:
Ability to think creatively and strategically, to build consensus and collaborate with others, and to articulate and implement human resources programs that reflect organizational goals;
Strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and the ability to organize, analyze, summarize, and effectively tailor and present initiatives to a diverse group of constituents;
Demonstrated track record leading, implementing, and communicating large-scale change management initiatives in complex organizations;
Experience with enterprise-wide administrative systems implementations and analyzing business processes;
Experience leading system-wide and expansive talent recruitment and retention initiatives. Success in building a “best in class” talent management and development process which actively invests in high-potential talent identified through performance management and succession planning process;
A record of attracting, mentoring and retaining high-quality talent and building empowered teams from ambitious, individual contributors;
Unparalleled personal integrity, ethics, and conduct.
A bachelor’s degree is required, and a master’s or other advanced degree is preferred. Also required is a significant tenure of progressively responsible human resources management and leadership experience, with time spent at the senior management or executive level, in an academic or similarly complex organization.
Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.
Internal Number: 36387
About Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a major private research university with 12 academic divisions located on three campuses in Evanston, Chicago, and Education City in Doha, Qatar. We have approximately 2,500 full-time faculty members, 17,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and over 5,700 full and part-time staff. Northwestern University combines innovative teaching and pioneering research in a highly collaborative environment. It provides students and faculty exceptional opportunities for intellectual, personal and professional growth.