When Lorraine Goffe entered the working world for operations management, she said she enjoyed the human side of the job. But working with others hasn’t always been up to Goffe.
Growing up in England, Goffe described herself as a shy child. It wasn’t until she moved to St. Louis, Missouri at age 14 that she became more comfortable with her peers.
“(Moving to the United States) made me see people as individuals,” Goffe said. “I became interested in people because I had to learn to adapt to people.”
Now Northwestern’s vice president of human resources and chief human resources officer, she oversees employee compensation, wellness, talent acquisition and logistics, among other responsibilities. Goffe took on the role February 1st after former Vice President of Human Resources Manuel Cuevas-Trisán left for a similar position at Harvard.
Executive Vice President Craig Johnson announced the search team named Goffe for the job in December. She previously held the same position at Pennsylvania State University and similar positions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington University in St. Louis.
“(Goffe) brings exceptional expertise and experience to this position,” Johnson said in a press release. “She has dedicated her career to improving HR operations and career outcomes for faculty and staff, and we look forward to welcoming her to our North West community.”
Goffe said her experiences working in human resources over the years go hand-in-hand with her analytical skills. At PSU, she was responsible for helping employees manage the onset and continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
She added that although the pandemic is truly unprecedented, she and the PSU HR team have tried to be as accommodating as possible.
“Early on, one thing that I shared with my management team (was) how we want people to feel that we treat them after they come out on the other side,” Goffe said.
Goffe said she plans to continue to uphold the principles of her human resources responsibilities at NU, including prioritizing the career development of employees, recruiting long-term talent and listening to the needs of those that she oversees.
When Goffe was a few weeks into her post at NU, she began a “listening tour,” which involved meeting with various University leaders and units, she said. Goffe added that the NU Staff Advisory Council, an organization that voices staff concerns, is one of the units she works with to determine HR strategies.
“Looking at the polls, I would like to work with NUSAC on how best to reach staff,” she said. “We want to make sure that human resources is structured for success so that we have the right kinds of people in the right kinds of roles to move the organization forward.”
Vice President of Operations Luke Figora chaired the search committee for Goffe’s position, which launched its national search in June 2021.
According to Figora, Goffe’s dedication to his job made him stand out among the other contestants.
“Northwestern had a very strong set of candidates for the VP of HR position, but from the start of the search, the search committee was very interested in Lorraine,“, wrote Figora in an email to the Daily.
Goffe said the NU community seems warm, collaborative and vibrant. She added that Chicago’s diversity also appealed to her.
And it was Goffe’s initial exposure to the Midwest as a child that introduced her to Chicago before her recent move here. However, she said living in Chicago is a totally different experience than visiting.
“It’s definitely a new experience because I’ve never lived in Chicago before,” Goffe said. “Living in Evanston is a different experience with warm communities and engaging people.”
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