Johannes Leonardo has hired Nicole Holland as its chief talent officer.
Holland joins from Roc Nation where she was VP of human resources for six months. Prior to that Holland was head of people and culture for marketing agency Fingerpaint, and held various HR roles across companies like Universal Music Group, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, and WPP’s Geometry.
Since the start of the pandemic, Johannes Leonardo has hired 75 new employees and is currently looking to fill 13 open roles. While the “Great Resignation” has been noticed throughout the industry, Bryan Yasko, president of Johannes Leonardo, says the industry isn’t going through a talent crisis but rather a “talent re-appraisal.”
“Our ambition—we're not there yet—is to make that shift of becoming a people-first organization,” Yasko says. “There are things that happened because of COVID like people leaving and reevaluating life. But I also think what's happening in the industry, and why there's so much movement, is people want to work at places that have a strong sense of values and beliefs.”
Holland replaces Debra Sercy, a former CEO of recruitment firm Grace Blue, who left the agency in October 2020 and returned to Grace Blue.
In her new role, Holland will be charged with overseeing the agency’s people management function while also developing strategies to retain and attract talent. While Holland just started her position in late August, she says she has been meeting with leadership to discover areas of improvement and will be focusing on the inclusion aspect of DE&I.
“Sometimes it drives me insane when people focus on the numbers and I'm like, 'It's great that you now have 30 brown people, but are those 30 brown people happy?'” Holland told Ad Age. “Do they feel like they can have a conversation with everyone? The inclusion part of it, to me, outweighs the numbers. You can have an agency that is well-balanced numbers-wise, but people are still coming into work feeling disjointed, not feeling like they have a seat at the table.”
A key focus for Holland in her first 100 days will be formalizing different employee resource groups that formed organically through in the agency and have existed for quite some time, Yasko says. There are different groups for various demographics with some examples being #[email protected], #GayL #Asiancy, but also groups that represent common life experiences including a wellness group, a women's group and a group for parents.
One way of formalizing these groups is by adding what Holland calls “leadership sponsors” for each group.