Helen Handfield-Jones is recognized as one of Canada’s foremost authorities on the subject of CEO succession planning and executive talent management. Her years of experience, innovative ideas and deep understanding of the human dynamics involved in these important endeavours enable her to assist both boards and senior executives with these complex, often delicate, sometimes messy human resource challenges.
After graduating as the gold medallist from the Ivey School of Business’s MBA program in 1990, Helen was invited to join the ranks of McKinsey & Company, where she spent 12 years consulting on business strategy, performance management, and organization. In 1997, Helen spearheaded the company’s ground-breaking research on executive talent, which eventually led her to co-write the book The War for Talent. The success of the book provided Helen with a springboard to launch her own consultancy in 2002, Handfield Jones Inc., focused on leadership talent strategy.
Shortly after starting her own business, she was invited to teach a course on CEO evaluation and succession planning for the Directors Education Program, a joint venture between the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Rotman School of Management. Helen has taught this program over 100 times in all eight cities across Canada since its inception in 2005, and continues to teach it in Toronto, Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg and Ottawa. She has had the privilege of teaching many Canadian corporate leaders.
In 2011, Helen founded a second company called Insight Talent Advisors Inc. Insight works with senior executive teams to conduct a robust and meaningful Leadership Talent Review process to help them build the talent they need to achieve their business goals.
Over the years, Helen has worked with over 100 companies on executive talent management including organizations such as Cadillac Fairview, CPR and Bank of Montreal. On CEO succession or evaluation, she has advised boards such as the AIMCo, Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Medical Protective Association Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and New Brunswick Power to name a few.
She is often invited to deliver speeches and has talked at high profile events such as the Human Capital Institute’s Annual Summit, the Conference Board, and the Baltic Management Conference.
As the leader of WATSON’s CEO Performance practice, Helen brings an integrated approach combining talent management and governance effectiveness. As part of the WATSON team, Helen conducts board, director and CEO evaluations, guides boards through the CEO succession journey, and helps boards and CEOs improve the way they work together.