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Valerie Frederickson
Founder & CEO

  Lessons Observed in How to Set Up Your HR Department  
  With the shortage of human resources (HR) leaders and the push by companies to grow quickly, we’re seeing People/HR organization charts that are problematic, and we’re fielding requests to help whiteboard out what a good HR structure for growth should look like.  
  What are the right guidelines to setting up an HR department? Here are my thoughts:  
  • Set expectations and don’t overpromise job titles. If your company grows, that Recruiter calling themself a Director of Talent Acquisition (TA) will end up being called a Recruiter again and won’t like the demotion. Start low now and be accurate with titles. For example, it’s better to be a CEO with TA or HR associates reporting directly to you than to name someone three years out of school as an HR Director. Let people know that if the company grows as planned, they will gain layers of people above them and explain why this will be good. Ask for input but keep these strategic decisions at the top.
  • Invest in a professional employer organization (PEO) and use their HR advisor, or other HR legal expert, to reduce compliance issues and headaches. Milk the PEO for everything you can, including payroll, HRIS, handbooks and recruiting.
  • On your HR team, invest in roles you can’t outsource. This may mean having a part-time HR Manager, or a Finance or Marketing Manager oversee HR while you outsource functions like recruiting (to agencies), compensation (to consultants) and HRIS, ATS and payroll (to your PEO). As it never works to outsource employee communications, focus on making this area great, for example by regularly sharing your strategy with your team.
  • When you create a People/HR Org chart, reflect true roles, even if that means the CEO is present as Head of People. It will be easier to recruit a great Head of TA and an experienced Total Rewards Director if they’re not reporting to an uninspiring junior manager who needs to be moved out.
  • Have TA report to HR even if you are HR. I’ve never seen it work for TA to report elsewhere, as the role needs integration into other processes.
  • Don’t call entry-level HR reps or HR managers “HR Business Partners” or “People Business Partners.” This is like calling dental hygienists “oral surgeons.” Save the “BP” title for later. We can help you define an appropriate HRBP model later when your organization is ready for it.
  • When you need to upgrade HR talent, don't ask incumbents to hire their boss. As the saying goes, “B players hire C players.” Do it right and hire the person yourself.
  I’d love to know your thoughts, too about what works in establishing your HR organization.  

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Pre-IPO Cryptocurrency
(very high growth)
High-Growth Fintech
Global Head of TA
Chief People Officer
Anywhere in the world
Global Head of TA
Miami, Atlanta, NY, etc.
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Aerospace Insurance Software
Head of People
Long Beach, CA
Vice President of People
Denver, CO
Head of
Employee Relations
San Francisco, CA
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Fintech Financial Services Cybersecurity
Head of Total Rewards
San Francisco, CA
Vice President,
Talent Mgmt.
Salt Lake City, UT
Chief Human
Resources Officer
Santa Clara, CA
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Digital Advertising SaaS Digital Marketing
(high growth)
Chief People Officer
San Francisco, CA
Head of TA
Boston, MA or open
Head of Total Rewards
Santa Clara, CA
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Health Tech Manufacturing Software Pharma/Healthcare
San Jose, CA
Head of Learning & Development
San Francisco, CA
Global Vice
President of TA
New York, NY
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Sales Software Biotechnology Software
Sr. HRBP, HR Lead
San Francisco, CA
HR Director
San Francisco, CA
HRBP, Business
San Francisco, CA
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SaaS Enterprise Software Construction
Senior VP of HR
Phoenix, AZ
Director of Diversity,
Equity & Inclusion
Chicago, IL / Remote
Chief People Officer
San Jose, CA
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Financial Services Computer Software Fintech / Agro
Head of Total Rewards
Salt Lake City, UT
Head of DEI
Oakland, CA
VP of People
Los Angeles, CA
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  Insurance Tech   Software   Organic Food Alternatives
  Head of People Operations
Palo Alto, CA
  HRBP, Engineering
San Francisco, CA
  Head of People
San Francisco, CA
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Chief Human Resources Officer
Wilsonville, OR
Director of Equity,
Diversity and Inclusion
San Jose, CA

ActiveCampaign is a category-defining Customer Experience Automation Platform that helps over 145,000 businesses in over 170 countries meaningfully connect and engage with their customers. Founded in 2003, ActiveCampaign just closed a $240 million round of Seres C funding, valuing it at over $3 billion.


We recently partnered with ActiveCampaign on two executive searches, reporting to Vice President of People, Denise Bindelglass.

As Senior Director of People Operations, Amy Cook will oversee People processes across all locations and lead a team that drives functions including HR systems, compliance, onboarding, performance management, employee relations and data analysis. Cook was previously Senior Director of Global HR at Informatica, and Director, HR Compliance and HRBP at TriZetto Corporation. She studied HR Management at Colorado State University—Global Campus and has a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from HRCI.


As Senior Director of Total Rewards, Aimee Lowry will drive all compensation, benefits and rewards initiatives globally, ensuring programs and philosophies are aligned to a fast-scaling, distributed organization.


Lowry joins the company from Cvent, where she was Senior Director of Global HR Operations and Rewards, and earlier from Rolls Royce as Head of Rewards for Americas. She also held HR benefits roles at Gannett Co., Inc. (USA Today Network), Maximus and Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a B.A. from University of Virginia and attended George Mason University School of Business.

Congratulations, Amy and Aimee on your new roles at ActiveCampaign!


Global company StockX is a Detroit-based technology leader focused on the large and growing online market for sneakers, apparel, electronics, accessories and collectibles. StockX’s powerful platform connects buyers and sellers of high-demand consumer goods from around the world using dynamic pricing mechanics.


We worked with StockX to place Tracy Cote as Chief People Officer. In the executive role, Cote will lead the global people team at StockX. Cote joins StockX from her role as Chief People Officer at Zenefits, and previously as Chief People Officer at Genesys. Her earlier HR positions included MobiTV, Organic and Charles Schwab. Cote also serves on the Forbes Human Resources Council and was an Advisory Board Member for Threatminder, and an Adjunct Faculty instructor at San Francisco State University for over 11 years. She earned a B.A. from Sonoma State University.

Congratulations, Tracy, on joining StockX!


With Frederickson Partners having experienced tremendous growth this year, we’re excited to help build out our capacity, and further enrich our offering and service to customers, by welcoming highly experienced executive search practitioner Daniel Scott. Dan started with the executive search team in late April. Welcome Dan!


Daniel Scott joins Frederickson from his role as Talent Acquisition Manager at Health System Solutions in Miami, Florida, a systems integration joint venture between Guidehouse and Baptist Health South Florida. In the role he led recruiting for the company of over 600. Previously Dan was a Talent Acquisition Manager at Towne Park, and held earlier HR positions at AdventHealth Hospital.


Dan holds a B.A. from Rollins College in psychology and an M.S. from Capella University in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Dan and his wife Rosane have a 2-year-old son, Noah, and live in Orlando, Florida. Dan enjoys golf, theme parks and generally being outdoors.


Starting this month, we share some of the most top-of-mind topics we’re hearing from C-level and HR executive leaders, in our HR Advisory practice.


This month Jeremy Miller, MBA, our Senior Total Rewards Advisor, addresses how companies can approach stock-based compensation for employees—especially at the critical planning stage before taking a company public.

In 2021, if your company is nearing an initial public offering (IPO) and planning for stock-based compensation, here are a few steps to take now.

  • Most companies grant less stock and more cash compensation after an IPO, as shares gain value and becomes more available. Adjust forecasts accordingly.
  • Post-IPO, most companies make stock grants annually to executives. Analyze whether your comp will have incentive and retentive power for employees who are key to the company’s success.
  • Public tech companies generally offer an Employee Stock Purchase Plans and a stock compensation plan. Start preparing them before the IPO.
  • Avoid unrealistic employee expectations for compensation post-IPO, by clearly communicating your vision. Remind your highest compensated executives that once the company is public, their comp will be reported in your annual proxy statement.

  • Synovus Financial Corp has named Sharon Goodwine as Executive VP and Chief Human Resources Officer. Goodwine comes from spending 20 years at Wells Fargo, where she held various HR roles. Previously she served at SunTrust, giving her a wealth of knowledge in both HR and the banking industry. (Announcement)
  • Walt Disney Co. has named Paul Richardson as their Chief Human Resources Officer. Richardson joins following 14 years at ESPN, leading HR and sitting on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Earlier in his career he held HR roles at companies including Universal McCann and Paramount Pictures. (Article)
  • Flywire welcomes Gary Cunningham as their new Chief People Officer. Richardson joins from Waymo, where he served as Head of People and Recruiting Operations. He has held previous HR roles at companies such as Traditional Medicinals, Inc., Oerlikon, and Olenick. (Announcement)
  • Hinge Health has welcomed Nancy Vitale as its new Chief People Officer. Vitale brings an outstanding HR background including executive roles at Genentech, P&G, Cigna, Deloitte Consulting, Danka, and the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Bank of California has welcomed Alex Kweskin as EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer. After working at Union Bank for nine years and serving as Head of HR, Kweskin brings exceptional HR expertise that includes roles at Wells Fargo, California National Bank, and The California Endowment. (Announcement)
  • Capitolis has appointed Jen Vanderwall as its new Chief People and Culture Officer. Vanderwall comes with a stellar background in financial services having previously worked at Bridgewater Associates, Mastercard and Willis Towers Watson. (Announcement)
  • Planet has announced the appointment of Kristi Erickson as Chief People Officer. With over 30 years of experience in HR roles, Kristi brings extensive knowledge to her new role. She previously worked at CBRE, Uplift Education, ServiceSource, and Accenture where she spent the first 25 years of her career. (Announcement)
  • Covis Pharma welcomed Martin Cepeda as its Chief Human Resources Officer. Cepeda brings over 16 years of Global HR experience having worked in pharmaceutical companies including at AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
  • Rokt appoints Sarah Wilson as its Chief People Officer. Previously, Wilson served as VP of People at SmartRecruiters. Throughout her HR career she has worked in companies that include Indigo, Aritzia, EasyHome, and Rogers Communications Inc.. (Announcement)
  • Spring Health appointed Brad Lande-Shannon as their new Chief People Officer. Lande-Shannon has an extensive background in executive roles within the startup environment. He has served at Culture Amp, Live Grey, Whale & Grey, Birchbox, Kinfolk,, Yahoo and Accenture, among other organizations.
  Almost everyone I know has been vaccinated, and San Mateo County will open soon. This will be the last Covid Corner in this newsletter (next month we’ll move the Letter from Valerie, a fan favorite, here). So, I want to summarize my own work-from-home “lows” of the past year, to see if you can relate and also to appreciate the improvements.  
  Top 8 “Lows” of the Pandemic  
  1. Being un-used to Zooms from home: I started by doing them in my garden by iPhone, struggling with WebEx, Google Meeting, etc. and often joining late and panicked and looking ridiculous.
  2. Never developing good boundaries between my kids and Zooms: They still feel free to go in and out of my view and make noise and interrupt. I can feel like I’m an invisible mannequin yelling at a screen all day.
  3. Foregoing shoes, nice clothing, haircuts and worse, as in the joke “Hey kids, it’s time to choose your outfit for the week.”
  4. Eating and drinking on camera like a slob. With WFH all day on Zoom, there’s often no time to eat lunch or even make tea between calls.
  5. Forgetting what day or year it is. I was convinced that our Biz Ops Director’s little girl had just turned two (she’s actually three).
  6. Being so glad to get dressed and go somewhere that I end up at the pediatrician’s office in makeup and jewelry.
  7. Seeing someone on Zoom nicely dressed now can feel like watching a newscaster.
  8. Zooming in the living room as my twins do distance learning in the dining room 15 feet away was a mind-blowing disaster. I found I could only work when they were asleep, so I was working until 3:00 am.
  A year later, I have a great work setup in a cottage in the garden. I can work, make tea, eat lunch and watch the garden grow without constant mind-killing interruptions. Tripods and iPads all around the house let me start Zooming in the kitchen (near the coffee maker) in the morning.  
  My team has dispersed across the U.S. with members now near the beach in L.A., in Nashville and three of them playing with manatees in different parts of Florida. We have a joyous, supportive, fun, successful team who as yet, doesn’t meet live. We re-opened a small office in Menlo Park, and plan WeWork spaces in San Francisco, L.A. and New York. I feel profoundly grateful for my team, and proud of them for being 100% vaccinated.  

Frederickson Partners, a Gallagher company is a market leader in retained executive search since 1995. As one of the top-rated HR executive search and C-suite recruiting firms, we have expertise in placing Chief People Officers, Chief Human Resources Officers, Chief Diversity Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Legal Officers and many other senior leaders. We draw on a broad network of rising and established executives and leaders, and a 28-year reputation as a talent acquisition and HR Advisory provider.

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