Magazine article Workforce Management

Yahoo's Recruiter-in-Chief: Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's New CEO, Aims to Turn the Company around by Fixing Its People Problems

Magazine article Workforce Management

Yahoo's Recruiter-in-Chief: Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's New CEO, Aims to Turn the Company around by Fixing Its People Problems

Article excerpt

BOTTOM LINES:

*Workforce experts believe that companies where the CEO is directly involved in workforce management are more successful.

*Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer's strategy to solve the company's people problem includes bringing in a new C-level team, making acquisitions to gain top talent and possibly overseeing additional job cuts.

*In turnaround situations, it's common for new CEOs to hire upper management they've worked with before or to recruit industry veterans who can help make changes happen quickly.

One of the first things Marissa Mayer did as Yahoo Inc.'s chief executive was declare herself head recruiter.

Mayer, 37, has made retooling Yahoo's 12,100-employee workforce a top priority in her quest to right the ailing tech giant, which has seen profits and revenue shrink as more aggressive competitors such as Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. have overtaken its core businesses and as Yahoo has slipped behind in mobile development and other areas.

Soon after joining Yahoo in July, the former Google executive said she would personally oversee all new hires. In her first 75 days, she brought onboard four C-level executives, one of whom was Jacqueline Reses, a former private equity partner who assumed control of Yahoo's human resources function despite minimal HR experience.

Mayer is making workforce, product and other changes to fix the company and appease its board and shareholders, who've had three CEOs come and go since 2009. She's also faced additional scrutiny because of her pregnancy, which she announced the day she was hired. Mayer had a baby boy on Sept. 30, and worked remotely during a brief maternity leave that ended by Yahoo's Oct. 22 third-quarter earnings call.

"She has to move fast and get the right people in those slots. It's bold, but I don't think she has another option," says Nancy Eberhardt, a Richmond, Virginia-based bank president turned executive coach who counsels CEOs. "The number of people judging every move she makes is huge," says Eberhardt, with Pathwise Partners. "It's like where most people have to bring their 'A game,' this has to be 'A-plus-plus-plus.' "

STRATEGY ISN'T OUT OF THE ORDINARY

Mayer isn't the first newly minted CEO to take over recruiting and other personnel matters in a turnaround. In such situations, it's typical for new CEOs to bring in people they've worked with before or recruit individuals with connections and a reputation for their accomplishments, according to executive recruiters and other experts.

It's also common for new CEOs to fill upper-management roles with industry veterans, which Mayer did by hiring Ken Goldman as chief financial officer. The Silicon Valley veteran of three decades will receive a compensation package worth $18 million, according to a regulatory filing. Goldman's first day coincided with Yahoo's third-quarter earnings call on Oct. 22.

Mayer picked up her hands-on hiring philosophy at Google where, even with a workforce of 23,000, CEO Larry Page still signs off on every new hire, according to Steve Levy's 2011 book about the company, In the Plex. Companies such as Google, where the CEO is directly involved in workforce management, are more successful, says Caren Fleit, a Korn/Ferry International senior client partner who finds chief marketing officers for consumer companies and retailers. …

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