Google Has a New HR Chief to Guide It Through 2021

George PaulPeople on the Move
Fiona Ciccone

Google's incoming HR leader, Fiona Cicconi. Image credit: AstraZeneca

Google has been faced with substantial labor-related challenges over the past year, making the selection of a new HR chief crucial.

The company's current VP of People Operations, Eileen Naughton, announced in February 2020 that she intends to step down later in the year. Ten months later and the company has now named Fiona Cicconi as Naughton's successor, according to MarketWatch.

Cicconi, who joins Google in January 2021, will oversee the company’s personnel policies at a difficult moment as there are ongoing tensions between employees and management in addition to the complexities of shifting to a remote work model.

“COVID has changed many aspects of how we work, and this is one of our highest priorities in 2021,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “The role of people operations is central to this work, and I look forward to working closely with Fiona as we enter the new year.”

Cicconi is a seasoned HR executive with the chops to helm Google’s personnel department. She started her HR career at General Electric's oil and gas business, where she held various people-focused roles before joining Cisco to oversee HR operations in seven European countries. Cicconi took responsibility for Roche’s global HR team for Pharma Technical Operations in 2006, where she identified and developed a sustainable internal supply of leadership and talent before joining AstraZeneca in 2014, as the EVP of Human Resources.

Cicconi will have her work cut out for her on day one, as Google has long been clashing with its employees over the perceived departure from its "Don't Be Evil" mantra. Tensions have also recently been inflamed by the abrupt exit of prominent artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru, whose departure has made employees challenge the company's position on free research and tolerance of dissent.

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