Why Bank of America is Loaning Out an HR Exec
A unique public-private collaboration is leading to big HR results for one of the nation’s largest school systems.
In February, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Bank of America, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., entered into an executive-on-loan partnership in which the school system is “borrowing” bank exec Gerri Parker as its interim CHRO. Parker, senior vice president of business operations in the bank’s global technology and operations division, remains on the bank’s payroll but is working full-time on-site at CMS through early 2019.
When Superintendent Clayton Wilcox came on board last year, he replaced the HR lead, a former CMS teacher and principal, with an interim in-house leader; while the search for a permanent director commenced, he and BOA leadership entered talks about an executive-on-loan initiative.
“They felt that my skills and experience in multiple industries—and including finance, HR, tech and operations—would add value to CMS,” Parker says.
Before taking on her current BOA post in 2016, Parker spent nearly 10 years as the bank’s senior vice president of HR. She previously worked in finance and later HR at Whirlpool Corp. and as an analyst at Procter & Gamble Co.
She says she was a “little surprised” about the proposition of taking on the CMS position but, once she learned more about the executive-on-loan partnership program—the bank has forged similar relationships with other organizations—she was eager to dive in.
“The bank is looking for ways to contribute to the community more than through financial sponsorships and volunteer hours, and I truly think this is a great way to help the community grow,” she says.
In a statement, CMS spokesperson Tracy Russ says the partnership “exemplifies Bank of America’s continuing support of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the district looks forward to leveraging Gerri’s private-sector experience and leadership developed over a 22-year career in human resources, finance and operations.”
Parker says her first order of business upon assuming the post was to onboard herself—doing a deep dive into the school system’s operations, culture and past HR practices, while establishing relationships with key stakeholders.
In mid-June, the system announced the reorganization of the HR function to align it with the district’s professional-development division and expand its scope beyond school-based staff to include all employees—19,000 in total. CMS is the second-largest employer in North Carolina and among the 20 largest school systems in the nation.