Fanatics, a global digital sports platform founded by Michael Rubin, has named Orlando Ashford as Chief People Officer, based in New York City. Hanold Associates Executive Search & Leadership Advisory partnered with Michael Rubin on the search assignment, that was led by Jason Hanold, Lisa Yae, Mayank Parikh and Eleanor Tetreault. In this newly created role, Ashford will leverage his nearly three decades of C-suite experience in executive management, talent management, organization development, change management and corporate human resources to lead the Company’s global HR, culture and talent strategy.
Orlando will work closely with the company’s three distinct businesses – Commerce, Collectibles and Betting & Gaming, while managing global human resources for the company. Orlando will directly oversee the HR team within Fanatics Holdings and will have a dual reporting role into both Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin; for matters including culture, talent development, corporate communications, corporate social responsibility as well as all diversity and inclusion, and Fanatics CFO Glenn H. Schiffman; for matters including total rewards and HR infrastructure, strategy, policies, and operations. He will be based in New York City.
“Culture is everything and our success is directly related to our incredible associates based around the world. As we continue to grow and expand, it becomes even more important to double down on organizational development, and I can’t think of a better person to lead this charge than Orlando,” said Rubin. “His vast experience running HR teams and his CEO level experience, with people and culture being the primary lens for how he’s managed and operated his businesses, will help us further develop our ambitions to build one of the world’s most transformative and exciting brands.”
Ashford brings a wealth of expertise to Fanatics and possesses a unique skillset that includes leading both businesses and global HR organizations focused on culture, talent development and retention. He has held senior level HR roles with several Fortune 500 companies, including Marsh & McLennan Companies, The Coca-Cola Company, and Motorola, Inc., before expanding his responsibilities beyond HR to become President of the Holland America Line. Prior to joining Fanatics, Orlando was a Strategic Advisor to Sycamore Partners, a private equity company specializing in retail and consumer investment, where he served as a thought leader, confidant and coach to senior executives on human capital and business issues with the Board, C-suite and HR functions.
In addition to his role as CPO and strategic advisor to the Fanatics executive team at large, Orlando will focus on expanding and advancing efforts across Fanatics’ principles of diversity and inclusion, as well as energizing philanthropic initiatives across the global workforce, including oversight of the Fanatics Foundation.
“From the moment I met Michael Rubin and listened to his vision for expanding the Fanatics business, which was rooted in empowering the company’s incredible global workforce and creating a world-class culture, I knew that this was the perfect place for me,” said Ashford. “Fanatics is a special company, one that I’ve long admired, where I can take my energy and expertise to further establish a diverse, platform-wide company culture comprised of the best and brightest people that want to be a part of a once-in-a-generation company.”
“Orlando is an outstanding person and business leader, who brings an exceptional sense of wisdom, innovation and drive to an already outstanding leadership team”, said Jason Hanold, of Hanold Associates who led the search.
Orlando is a highly sought-after board member; he serves as board chairman of Perrigo Company and sits on the board of Syndio, a progressive HR technology products company. He has a personal philanthropic involvement as a member of the Orange Bowl Committee. Orlando holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Industrial Technology from Purdue University.
Fanatics is a rapidly growing industry leader across the e-commerce, apparel manufacturing and wholesale, memorabilia, collectibles, special event and in-stadium retail for the sports industry. The Fanatics global digital sports platform is comprised of companies that meet fans when and where their passion is highest across the entire sports ecosystem. The company now has relationships with more than 900 properties, including many of the sports world’s most prominent brands. In August 2021, Fanatics announced its intention to expand the company through new platforms, including NFTs, trading cards and collectibles, gambling and gaming, ticketing, media and more. Fanatics has raised capital from private equity firms like Silver Lake Capital, SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Fidelity Investments, as well as organizations such as The National Football League, Major League Baseball and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. Fanatics’ Gaming and Collectibles headquarters is located in New York City, while the Commerce headquarters are located in Jacksonville, Florida. The company’s 40+ locations around the globe are home to more than 8,500 employees and growing.