By  on April 19, 2007

Bill Cody, managing director of the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at the Wharton School, has joined Urban Outfitters, the $1.22 billion specialty retailer and wholesaler, in the new post of chief talent officer.

Cody, who will continue as a lecturer in the marketing department at Wharton, began his job at Urban Outfitters' Philadelphia headquarters on Monday.

"We are trying to revolutionize how human resources is utilized in an organization," said Cody on Wednesday. "Anything that deals with talent will be part of our group." Other areas of human resources, such as employee benefits and legal counsel, will be handled by the finance and legal departments, respectively.

For the past four-and-a-half years, Cody has been managing director of the Baker Retailing Initiative. In that post, he said he frequently spoke with senior executives such as Terry Lundgren, chairman and chief executive officer of Federated Department Stores, and Roger Farah, president and chief operating officer of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., about "changing the view of talent, and that it's an executive-level problem.

"We've been talking about this for four years, and now I'm out there putting it into practice," said Cody.

As part of his job, Cody said he will recruit talent from the executive level at other companies and schools, and develop and retain these executives within the organization. He reports to Freeman Zausner, the chief administrative officer of Urban Outfitters.

Cody said his hiring came about quickly after a recent conversation with Richard A. Hayne, chairman and president of Urban Outfitters, which operates the Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters brands.

Cody's successor at the Baker Retailing Institute at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania hasn't been named.

Earlier, Cody was a senior manager with Accenture's strategy and business architecture group, working with retailers and apparel manufacturers in North America and Europe on corporate strategy, marketing, merchandising and finance. Before that, he was in corporate finance for the Dun & Bradstreet Corp.

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