Making the Move

This article, offering some examples of HR leaders becoming consultants, accompanies Corporate vs. Consulting

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
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Just as HR professionals make their way to the profession in a multitude of ways, those who make the switch to consulting also do so for myriad reasons.

After a series of HR roles, including stints at PepsiCo Inc./Frito-Lay, Bristol-Myers Squibb/Clairol, Cendant Corp. and Chase Manhattan Bank, Joanne Kruse was serving as executive vice president of human resources for Parsippany, N.J.-based Travelport Ltd., when she found herself faced with the choice of relocating to London or leaving the company.

Not exactly thrilled at the prospect of moving overseas, Kruse founded HCpartners, a Chester, N.J.-based HR consulting firm.

David Lewis, president and founder of OperationsInc., a Stamford, Conn.-based HR outsourcing and consulting firm, had never considered a career in consulting until he found himself deeply immersed in an unsuccessful job search in January 2001.

In spite of an impressive background that included stints as senior vice president of HR at both World Merchandise Exchange and Teltrust, Lewis' phone was painfully silent. Then a call from a local dot-com entrepreneur planted the seed in his mind that he could make a living another way -- as an HR consultant.

Perhaps no one has orchestrated transitioning between corporate and consulting as carefully as Marc Effron, president of New York-based The Talent Strategy Group.

Effron admits he spent the last 20 years "very consciously moving back and forth between the fields," including through positions at Sibson Consulting, Oxford Health Plans, Bank of America, Hewitt Associates and Avon Products Inc.

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After two decades of seamlessly segueing between corporate and consulting jobs, the question is whether Effron will now stay put or opt to return to corporate HR at some point. While he is fairly certain he has found his place in the world, Effron isn't willing to completely close the door on someday going back to corporate HR. 

"When headhunters call me these days, all I can tell them is, 'I can't imagine the job you would bring to me that would cause me to go back to the corporate world,'" says Effron. "That may change, but I am loving so much what I am doing right now that I would need to see an opportunity to solve the biggest talent-management problem ever faced by any company."

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