CHRO Leadership Academy: Your Pathway to Senior HR Leadership

Michigan State University's Premier Human Resources Leadership Program


The CHRO Leadership Academy is for those new to the Chief Human Resources Officer or Chief People Officer role, or those on the succession plan for top HR roles.

The goal of this elite program is to prepare you for or help expand your skills in top HR positions - understanding the unique responsibilities that come with HR leadership.


Steve Fitzgerald and CEO Colleen Haley discuss lessons and strategies for how to build relationships within a new role or organization.



You will have a current or former CHRO as a dedicated coach for this customized 9-month program.

They will be your personal guide to:

Assess your current skills vs the requirements of the role

To ensure that they leverage your existing strengths and optimize your learning experience

Create a unique plan with personalized coaching through every step

Link you to educational modules

Featuring Michigan State's faculty and sitting HR senior executives

Assess your progress

Adjusting in real time to your needs as they arise

What differentiates this program is that it is highly customized to meet your individual needs

Steve Fitzgerald, Program Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the FireStorm Group Ltd


Our HR leaders and faculty experts have the experience and clear understanding of what it takes to succeed as a CHRO. They have identified the critical skills and competencies being demanded of human capital leaders today, and will help you build your customized road map to achieve leadership excellence in top HR positions.

The MSU Academy CHRO is someone who has mastered the essential elements of the modern CHRO role for their organization, including:

Technical Competencies

  • Board & Governance
  • Talent Management & Strategy
  • Advisor & Coach to the CEO
  • Executive Compensation
  • Understanding of European Work Rules (Co-determination, Works Councils, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations - TUPE)
  • Aligning HC Strategy to Business Strategy
  • Custodian of Culture, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Business Partner to Executive Team
  • Change Management including but not limited to organization structure and new work environments

Interpersonal Competencies

  • Self-Understanding & Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • Ability to communicate & Storytelling
  • Business & Financial Acumen
  • Political Savvy
  • Strong Relationships with Peers
  • Courage
  • Analytical/Data Savvy
  • Comfort with agility dealing with disruption and change



  • Investment: $25,000
  • Currently accepting participants for the 2024 cohort
  • Virtual Coaching: Leaders can participate from anywhere in the world
  • Connect in Person: Meet face-to-face with peers, coaches, faculty and sitting CHROs to build your network
  • Certification: Those that complete the program will be conferred with a formal certificate indicative of their being a Michigan State Leadership Academy CHRO



Meet the CHRO Leadership Academy Coaches

  • Steve Fitzgerald, FireStorm Group Ltd
    Steve Fitzgerald

    Steve Fitzgerald is Program Manager of the CHRO Leadership Academy and Chief Executive Officer of the FireStorm Group Ltd, an eclectic collection of enterprises spanning human capital consulting, art, and real estate. He coaches C-Suite executives (with a special program for Chief HR Officers new to their role) and consults on the topic of talent management, specifically focused on the development of critical talent, executive succession, creativity, culture & change, M&A integration, and human capital strategy. He thrives when faced with the hard-to-solve people problem.

    Steve's executive career spanned 30+ years, where he held the top HR Officer/Talent position at firms including Bridgewater Associates, Visteon, Vail Resorts, and Fairlane Credit. He also held executive roles at Silicon Valley outfits such as Sun Microsystems and Avaya, spending over a dozen years of his career in that sector. Steve credits his early years at Ford Motor Company (after coming out of graduate school at Michigan State) as being foundational in building early mental maps for the systematic development of talent in a 100+ year old enterprise. Learn more at

  • Sandy Ferguson, Panavision International
    Sandy Ferguson

    Based in Los Angeles, California, Sandy is currently the CHRO for Panavision International, a leading provider of Camera, Lighting and Post Production services to the film and television industry worldwide. She leads Panavision's global human resources function, developing the company's HR strategy and providing mentorship and guidance to employees, leadership and the executive group.

    Sandy brings over 30 years of broad Human Resources experience, having worked in both Corporate and Divisional HR roles on a global scale. She has experience in unionized, public & private, manufacturing, service and fast-paced start-up organizations. She began her career in Automotive, Transportation & Logistics, and has held senior HR roles in the Music, Technology and Entertainment Industries, where she has had overall global responsibility for the HR function along with Board interaction. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and a master's degree from the Michigan State University School of Human Resources & Labor Relations (Labor and Industrial Relations).

  • Leslie W. Joyce, Lee Hecht Harrison
    Leslie W. Joyce

    Dr. Joyce is an executive coach specializing in increasing leadership effectiveness and enhancing career success. Her practice is focused on senior-level leaders who are committed to excellence in leadership and in taking their careers to the next level.

    Leslie is an innovative, global Human Resources executive with a talent for integrating world-class people and talent practices into the fabric of a company's operating model. As Chief Human Resources Officer for Novelis Inc., and then Exide Technologies, Leslie was responsible for all aspects of the global talent value chain from talent acquisition and deployment to leadership development and succession for employees worldwide.

    Dr. Joyce holds a PhD in Psychology and is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology with numerous publications and presentations to her credit.

  • Kim McEachron, DesignGrowthRX
    Kim McEarchron

    Kim McEachron spent her corporate career designing experiences and cultures to inspire individuals, teams, and organizations to reach their full potential. For over 40 years, she held human resources leadership roles in both large company and smaller entrepreneurial environments.

    In her most recent role as Chief People Officer at Genomic Health, Inc, she worked with the executive team to successfully grow and diversify the global business. Kim has deep experience in aligning culture, capabilities, and purpose so people can thrive and deliver extraordinary results.

    Currently, as founder of the consulting firm, DesignGrowthRX, she collaborates with clients to design customized plans for growth. Kim's insightful coaching, advanced organization design experience, and ability to recognize opportunities for change, help clients to optimize new strategies, accelerate development, and elevate and sustain performance.

    Kim is a past member of the HR People and Strategy Board, SHRM's Executive Network; a certified coach through ICF (International Coaching Federation); and a member of The Association for Managers of Innovation (AMI); and C4C, a network of selected coaches, consultants, and leadership development experts and transformation advisors. She obtained her Master's in Industrial Relations from the University of Minnesota and undergraduate degree from Carleton College.

  • Michele Stowe, SkyRocket LLC
    Michele Stowe

    For more than 20 years, Michele Stowe has built a career around her passion: leadership development. Through her executive coaching and consulting company, SkyRocket LLC, Michele helps individuals, teams, leaders, and organizations create and experience authentic change that empowers them to grow as people and professionals. Michele is certified by the International Coaching Federation and is a Hogan Assessment practitioner.

    Born in the U.S. and raised in Germany, she earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and German from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. She held executive positions at Fortune 100 companies, in industries ranging from real estate to pharmaceuticals, before becoming Chief Operating Officer of Mercy Housing, one of the nation's largest affordable housing organizations. She founded SkyRocket in 2016 in Denver, Colorado and lives there with her family.


Learn more about the CHRO Leadership Academy

Download the CHRO Leadership Academy Brochure


Questions? We would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this or any of our training programs. Please contact Director of Professional Development, Melanie Zaremba at