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Havas Creates Chief People Officer Role to Change Recruitment

Advertising Agency
New York, USA
Former Grace Blue North America CEO Claire Telling steps into new role to drive meaningful candidate-centric recruiting with a strategic focus on diversity
With an ambition to build the best, most modern recruiting capability in the industry, Havas Creative North America has appointed Claire Telling, former CEO of global executive search firm Grace Blue North America, as chief people officer (CPO), a new position within the network. Telling brings 23 years of experience helping leaders of some of the world’s most iconic organisations solve business challenges by delivering smart people strategies, building high-performing teams and finding outstanding talent.

As CPO, Telling will serve as Havas Creative North America’s strategic leader of recruitment, brand and culture. Her primary focus is to help attract the best and brightest talent to the organisation through innovative, people-centred programs and processes that ensure the network’s people culture is healthy and engaged with above average retention rates.

“Winning in North America is first about gaining an unfair share of talent,” said Stephanie Nerlich, executive managing partner, North America. “Evolving our recruitment approach is a strategic growth driver, and our people-centred activities - such as hiring, training, professional development
and performance management - need to make a meaningful difference through a thoughtful plan. Claire has the passion and deep expertise to serve as our talent advocate and brand builder to help attract and retain the best and brightest talent to our organisation. This is even more important in the current climate, where improved diversity is critical to the future success of our group.”

At the core of this new position is rethinking and rebuilding Havas Creative North America’s recruitment plan to better optimise investments in internal and external resources as well as programming. The role of CPO will go beyond recruiting, however, to ensure that the lifecycle of each new employee is an exceptional one.

Claire will help develop a progressive on-boarding process that sets up new hires for a fast start and longer-term success, partnering with global talent and human resources to enhance training and development. She will centralise her work in each North America Village or agency and coordinate with local HR to support employee engagement and culture-building activities.

Claire will also serve as a proactive driver and influencer to leaders across the network, helping them evolve their own leadership as it pertains to talent—and raising the bar across North America.

“Having worked with Havas as a client for many years, I have seen their commitment to being a people-first company, as well as the extraordinary talent they have attracted,” Claire added. “Havas is unlike any other agency in that its integration with Vivendi gives them access to the world’s best entertainment and content, which is incredibly appealing for anyone looking to create meaningful work. The chance to help build out the agency’s talent function and create a diverse culture where people are motivated to do the best work of their lives - at a time when Havas has such positive momentum - is very exciting to me.”

As CEO of Grace Blue North America, Claire was responsible for running the U.S. and Canada business—managing key client and candidate relationships, overseeing the New York team, and setting up new divisions for the company’s growth—since its launch in 2012. During that time, she facilitated some of the most game-changing hires in the advertising industry and was recognised for her creative approach to solving her clients’ toughest talent challenges.

Prior to Grace Blue, Claire spent a decade at agencies including BBH, TBWA\Chiat and 72andSunny, working on brands including Miller Lite, Mentos, Unilever, Pedigree, Singapore Airlines and Sonos. The marketing executive also spent time client-side at, where she led the U.S. advertising team as marketing director before moving to London to set up the company’s European operations. After spending several years in London, Claire returned to New York to work at British Airways managing the airline’s marketing and brand strategy. Claire will report to Nerlich and be based out of Havas New York.

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