Organization: Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Express Interest

About Carnegie Mellon University:

Carnegie Mellon (CMU) is a private, global research university, internationally renowned in fields such as artificial intelligence, the performing arts, brain science, technology-enhanced learning, cybersecurity, design, robotics, and big data. CMU challenges the curious and passionate to deliver work that matters. CMU scholars stand tall among Nobel Laureates, Turing Award winners, national academy members and other global leaders in research and creativity. By focusing on the challenges facing society, CMU students and faculty collaborate across disciplines, sometimes developing entire new fields of study.

Since its founding in 1900, CMU has engaged deeply with practitioners and partners in the public and private sectors, from Silicon Valley to Broadway. In 2014 alone, CMU’s vibrant innovation ecosystem created 36 spinoff companies. CMU has more than 350 corporate partners, relationships that attracted companies such as Google, Apple, Intel, Disney, Uber, GE, Boeing, and Tata Consultancy Services to Pittsburgh. The university makes a significant contribution to the regional economy while it enriches the area’s cultural and civic life. CMU graduates are some of the most highly sought-after recruits in emerging fields, finding success and blazing new trails in their careers.

By the Numbers

More than 6,300 undergraduates and 7,000 graduate students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a variety of curricular and research opportunities, and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for global issues, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Several Carnegie Mellon schools and departments rank in the top 10 according to U.S. News & World Report: computer science (1), undergraduate engineering (6), fine arts (7), graduate engineering (4), undergraduate business (7), part-time MBA (7), statistics (9), and public affairs (9).

Carnegie Mellon is affiliated with 19 Nobel Laureates, 19 members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 50 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 14 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 Turing Award recipients, three Guggenheim Fellows, one MacArthur Foundation Fellow, one National Book Award winner, two National Medal of Science winners, and five National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners. In addition, former faculty and alumni have won seven Academy Awards, 130 Emmy Awards, and 41 Tony Awards.

A Global Community

An internationally connected and culturally diverse community, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley, and Qatar as well as programs in New York City, Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. More than 100,000 alumni around the world help foster the university’s global perspective.

University Leadership

Subra Suresh became the ninth President of Carnegie Mellon in July 2013. Prior to assuming his role, he served as director of the National Science Foundation. A distinguished engineer and scientist, President Suresh is one of only 16 Americans and the only university president to be elected to all three National Academies – the Institute of Medicine (2013), the National Academy of Sciences (2012) and the National Academy of Engineering (2002). He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he received the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. At Carnegie Mellon, he has launched new research initiatives in brain science, technology-enhanced learning, and data sciences, and has worked to enhance the university’s many offerings and programs in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Dr. Suresh was nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in September 2010. As director of this $7 billion independent federal agency, he led the only government science agency charged with advancing all fields of fundamental science and engineering research and related education. Before joining NSF, he served as the Dean of the School of Engineering and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). President Suresh received his Bachelor of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, with First Class with Distinction honors; a master’s degree from Iowa State University; a Doctor of Science degree from MIT; and completed postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He joined the faculty of engineering at Brown University in December 1983, and was promoted to full professor in July 1989. He joined MIT in 1993 as the R.P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and served as head of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering during 2000 to 2006.

For more information on Carnegie Mellon, please visit

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:

The City of Pittsburgh has successfully reinvented itself from a steel and manufacturing center to a city that today is leading America in health care, technology and education. The region is on the cusp of tremendous growth and expansion. The riverfront area facing downtown is designed to be one of the most spectacular urban waterfront projects in the U.S., featuring green space and “water steps,” along with a fishing pier. A view of the city’s skyline is rarely better than from atop Mount Washington, just 10 minutes from campus, one of Pittsburgh’s most famous hills, home to eclectic eateries and historic neighborhoods.

Pittsburgh has a rich history in arts and culture. Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Benedum Center houses the Pittsburgh Opera. The city has a long tradition of jazz, blues and bluegrass music. In addition, the Pittsburgh Dance Council and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater host a variety of dance events. Major art museums include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Frick Art & Historical Center, and Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The ToonSeum, one of three museums in the U.S. dedicated to cartoon art, is located downtown, and downtown’s cultural district hosts quarterly Gallery Crawls and the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Pittsburgh is one of the fastest-growing industrial cities in the country and has an incredible melting pot of cultures from every part of the world. Compared to major metropolitan cities, it offers an exceptional quality of life with a robust arts, culture and dining scene. The Culture of Pittsburgh stems from the city’s long history as a center for cultural philanthropy, as well as its rich ethnic traditions. Pittsburgh has transformed into a vibrant community and has gone through a Renaissance. The economy in Pittsburgh is strong and important. Businesses such as Google, Disney and GE have established significant facilities in Pittsburgh, setting up offices and laboratories within the past three years. Today, the result is a pastiche of customs, cuisine, and linguistic oddities that are absolutely unique.

The Opportunity:

In July 2016, Carnegie Mellon appointed Dr. Rodney P. McClendon to the newly created role of Vice President for Operations, and has since undertaken a number of substantive initiatives and projects. As a result, one of the critical priorities that emerged was to establish a high-performing, best-in-class Human Resources department under the leadership of a new Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO).

Reporting directly to the Vice President for Operations, the CHRO will oversee Human Resources for Carnegie Mellon and will have a full appreciation and well-rounded knowledge of the related complex issues that affect institutions of higher education. The CHRO will be a permanent member of the Academic Leadership Council (ALC), which is comprised of the President’s cabinet, academic deans, and academic vice provosts. The CHRO will have administrative oversight for the Total Compensation Committee (TCC). The TCC has full discretion over and is charged with responsibilities and duties relating to the formation, operation and control of all total compensation programs for the university. The TCC also serves as Named Fiduciary and Administrator as required by ERISA for all university benefit plans.

Across CMU, the CHRO leader will provide direction and strategy on issues involving recruitment and retention; onboarding and professional development; employee and labor relations; benefits and compensation; performance assessments and evaluation; and human resources technology supporting these functions. In collaboration with other senior leaders across the university, the CHRO will have the opportunity to establish Carnegie Mellon’s brand as a top choice employer for staff and faculty.

In an environment like CMU, where research and academic success drive innovation and strategic planning, the CHRO will be a key member of the leadership team working in collaboration with the Vice President for Operations on policy and strategy. This leader will promote an open, transparent, accountable culture for CMU’s campus and community, and will ensure an environment of diversity and inclusion through empathic, collaborative leadership internally and with the community. The CHRO will also oversee the ongoing development and support of the recent implementation of WorkDay, and will manage the budget, timing and rollout during this period of transition to find the best HR IT solution for CMU.

Internally, this leader will identify and address gaps in the organizational structure of Human Resources within the university, and will have the ability and foresight to measure, monitor, control and report on important developments as they arise. An important voice for CMU to the community and to the university’s partners, the CHRO will play a leadership role in the institution’s relationships with unions or other collective bargaining units. The CHRO will be an advocate, champion and spokesperson for the department and will serve a major role in creating clarity for the services that HR can provide to the campus. The CHRO will build community while simultaneously communicating and advising on important details, announcements and changes.

A major part of CMU’s success and history has been the university’s commitment to an ethos within the institution of close partnerships between the central administration (President, Provost, Vice Presidents and Vice Provosts) and the key academic leadership provided by the Deans and Department Heads in the various colleges and schools of the university. The new CHRO will benefit from strong leadership throughout the divisions and within the Operations Group, and will be expected to grow and nurture management talent for those under her/his charge. The ideal candidate will have a strong team ethos, cultivating and rewarding smart, collaborative solutions to complex institutional issues spanning the functions under their oversight.

It is essential that the new CHRO shares the university’s deep commitment to a campus culture that prizes diversity and inclusion, respect and mutual engagement, and personal and professional character. Moreover, regardless of whether the candidate of choice comes from an institution of higher education, this role calls for someone who is deeply committed to the university’s mission and understands the academic, financial, legal and regulatory framework to be managed for the institution’s ultimate success.

Candidate Profile:

The Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer will have a significant track record of successful, progressive, and applicable experience as a strategic human resources leader, with a sophisticated understanding of the issues affecting higher education institutions. This individual will have a combination of breadth, depth and knowledge of the following HR functional areas: recruitment and retention; onboarding and professional development; employee and labor relations; benefits and compensation; performance assessments and evaluation; and human resources technology. This individual will have a comprehensive understanding of the intersection of human resources within the university and a connection to the university’s mission and vision.

The CHRO will have a commitment to the inter-disciplinarity central to Carnegie Mellon’s philosophy, along with the goal of raising Carnegie Mellon’s profile as a global leader in higher education. The CHRO will be a resourceful person with gravitas who can handle conflict, foster understanding, advance ideas and inspire trust. A leader of natural presence, the CHRO will be a decisive, results-oriented leader with a successful background in managing large, complex organizations undergoing systemic change, including an aptitude and fluency with related technology, and the ability to foresee and account for challenges that may arise. Flexible in adjusting to emerging needs or shifting priorities, s/he will be an excellent motivator and a natural listener, inspiring a shared vision, quality performance and strong morale. A passionate advocate for diversity, equity and inclusiveness, s/he will address challenges in this area directly and demonstrate the ability to build and retain a strong team of professionals focused on excellence, accountability, transparency and efficiency.

Through openness and an inherent ability to earn respect, the CHRO will be a natural partner to university leadership, faculty, administration, staff, students, governing agencies, external partners, and the greater CMU community. In addition, the ideal candidate should be dedicated to the safety, personal growth and well-being of all employees and students and the overall strength of the university. With demonstrated professional and personal integrity and honesty through consistent and transparent action throughout her/his career, this leader will be a highly ethical individual with a consistent focus on the future of Carnegie Mellon. A Bachelor’s degree is required with an advanced degree or equivalent experience preferred.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

Strategic and Entrepreneurial Leader:

The Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer will be a highly experienced leader with an entrepreneurial spirit, a measureable track record of strong results, and an outcome-driven mindset. A proven strategic thinker with the vision, capacity, and experience to understand and balance a complex array of constituent needs, the CHRO will serve as strategic advisor to university leadership on all human resources issues as well as planning and development of initiatives and programs in this area. The CHRO will demonstrate the ability to diagnose critical areas for attention, educate and build consensus with stakeholders, and implement decisive, clear strategies that anticipate and account for problems with effective solutions. S/he will be a proactive, collaborative change agent, with the mindset to challenge the status quo with a servant-leadership approach, remaining sensitive to CMU’s culture.

Persuasive and Influential Communicator:

The CHRO will possess exceptional verbal and written communication skills, clearly articulating multifaceted issues to senior leaders and stakeholders, as well as to the broader community. S/he will have an inspired ability to listen intently, think clearly and respond effectively, empathically and persistently to a variety of challenges, naturally collaborating to develop clear decisions. With confidence and gravitas, the CHRO will ably negotiate challenges across the institution, communicating clearly and striving to break down silos and other barriers. This leader will garner institutional and campus support for all aspects of the management of human resources, including developing the internal structures and systems to support WorkDay along with other new and innovative programs, striving to motivate others with a high degree of transparency and clarity.

Relationship Builder and Collaborator:

Critical to success in this role, the CHRO will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships across all levels of the institution, including with the various organizations within CMU that have embedded and existing human resources functions. S/he will be a natural partner with a demonstrated ability to connect, build bridges and command respect, including with union officials and appropriate governing bodies, and will work to develop relationships internally and externally for the benefit of CMU. The CHRO will partner with peer leaders and administrators at CMU, building positive working relationships across divisions, identifying efficiencies and leveraging opportunities for the benefit of the university. S/he will be consultative, promoting open dialogue across the university, students and staff, synthesizing divergent views and coalescing CMU around a shared vision for human resources on campus.

Expert in Human Resources Management:

The CHRO will have a high level of professional and proven experience and acumen for human resources leadership and human resources technology, and the demonstrated ability to lead and manage this area for a large, complex institution. S/he will have managed a significant staff with a large budget, and will thrive in an environment of clear expectations and careful use of resources. S/he will evaluate and advise on the adequacy and soundness of the University’s policies and systems concerning human resources, including the recent transition to WorkDay, and will have the proven ability to understand, analyze and interpret complex challenges. The CHRO will recruit, manage and mentor a team of professionals working toward specific, measurable goals, including coalescing the disparate human resources entities at CMU around a shared goal and within one structure.

Change Manager and Operational Experience:

The CHRO will be an experienced leader with a background in managing significant organizational or institutional change, with a thorough, detailed and wide-ranging perspective on the impacts of these changes on the campus culture and community. S/he will have practical experience in communicating change, including those related to technology or other changes with systems. With the university’s financial and personnel needs in mind along with an appreciation for the ongoing projects at CMU, s/he will employ a comprehensive approach to forecasting progress and achieving sustainable, well-supported solutions. S/he will be agile in ambiguous situations and capable of providing stability and inspiring confidence when faced with important and quickly-changing circumstances, including through analyzing and evaluating various scenarios from a budgetary perspective.


Carnegie Mellon has exclusively retained Koya Leadership Partners for this search. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Medelene Beasley. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials through Koya’s online link here or email Michelle and Medelene at the following:

Michelle R.S. Bonoan
Managing Director

Medelene Beasley

Carnegie Mellon is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity and strongly encourages applications from women, minorities, and other under-represented groups. CMU is responsive to the needs of dual career couples and is dedicated to work-life balance through an array of family-friendly policies.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information, visit