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Manuel Cuevas-Trisán named vice president for Human Resources

Longtime Motorola executive will begin Jan. 6, 2020

Manuel Cuevas-Trisán has been named Northwestern University’s vice president for human resources and chief human resource officer, Senior Vice President Craig Johnson announced today (Dec. 2). Cuevas-Trisán’s will start on Jan. 6, 2020.

Cuevas-Trisán was chief human resources officer and corporate vice president at Motorola Solutions in Chicago following roles as a lawyer specializing in employment and labor matters. He said he is deeply honored to be entrusted with Northwestern’s talent strategy and is “thrilled to join an institution of such global renown.”

Johnson said Cuevas-Trisán emerged from a national search of prominent candidates conducted by a committee representing a broad array of staff and faculty. The committee was chaired by Vice President and General Counsel Stephanie Graham. 

“Manuel is a highly accomplished human resources professional with broad experience rooted in best practices and informed by his legal background,” Johnson said of Cuevas-Trisán. “He will continue to elevate our human resources function with his exemplary record of strategic partnership across a complex institution, data-driven decision-making, and commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are very proud to welcome him to Northwestern.”

At Motorola Solutions, Cuevas-Trisán led a global team responsible for the planning, design, implementation, communication and delivery of the company’s human capital strategy and service delivery at all levels for 16,000 employees worldwide. He also oversaw labor and employment law compliance, HR policies and established a global data protection program. Major accomplishments included designing a new model to invest in high-potential talent, insourcing the talent acquisition team and employee service center to enhance support to a distributed workforce, and quadrupling Motorola Solutions’ investment in diversity programs.

Cuevas-Trisán will oversee strategic leadership for the University’s human resources and drive strategies and initiatives with efficient deployment of resources. He will build upon Northwestern’s already robust human resources organization, with an eye for service, quality and efficiency.

“Along with its exceptional student body, Northwestern’s faculty and staff sustain the university’s mission,” Cuevas-Trisán said. “The human resources organization plays a vital role in the advancement of Northwestern’s near and long-term strategic priorities. I am excited about this opportunity to share my perspectives on talent, processes and systems.”

Throughout his combined two decades of service at Motorola and its successor, Motorola Solutions, Cuevas-Trisán held various roles as legal counsel supporting regional and global business segments, eventually serving as lead employment and litigation counsel for the company. In 2015, he was named chief human resources officer while retaining responsibility for the employment law team. He started his career at the law firm McConnell Valdés in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Cuevas-Trisán earned his bachelor’s degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. He also holds a master’s degree in executive coaching and leadership from Universitat de Barcelona’s OBS Business School. He serves as a board member on the Illinois Commission on Diversity and Human Relations and the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, and he was recently named one of this year’s 50 Business Leaders of Color by Chicago United. Cuevas-Trisán also is an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois Chicago’s John Marshall Law School. 

When he begins at Northwestern in January, Cuevas-Trisán will succeed Priya Harjani, who has led human resources in an interim capacity since the retirement of the previous vice president, Pam Beemer, on Aug. 31. Harjani will resume her role as associate vice president and deputy general counsel at Northwestern.

Cuevas-Trisán lives in Arlington Heights, Ill., with his wife, Maru Torres-Gregory, who is on the faculty at The Family Institute at Northwestern, and his three children.