Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Luck Dookchitra on HR as a Key Business Leader and a Thoughtful Future of Work

Meet Luck Dookchitra, the first Global VP of People at Leapsome, an all-in-one intelligent people enablement platform. Dookchitra not only brings more than 15 years of experience to her role – including leadership roles at Spotify, Teachable, and Modern Meadow – but also a commitment to driving organizational change.

Luck Dookchitra

“I have been involved in pioneering Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) programs and enabling scalable growth in high-paced SaaS environments,” she recently shared with HR Daily Advisor. “The HR department and teams are fundamental to a company, serving as both business leaders and support functions. Acknowledging their significance in the boardroom is essential, given their contributions to organizational success through shaping company culture, fostering talent development, measuring performance, and aligning people operation strategies with overall business objectives.”

In our latest Faces, meet Luck Dookchitra.

How did you get your start in the field?

I started my professional career in advertising but soon realized that I was more interested in how the company ran from a people perspective. I found myself delving into the intricacies of work practices, such as long hours, incentives, hiring/firing policies, and beyond. This exploration ignited my keen interest in motivation at work, understanding and enhancing work dynamics, ultimately launching me into the world of HR, where I have been ever since.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

As we know, HR hasn’t always had a seat at the table from a strategic and operational leadership perspective, but workers in tech have really helped the field expand and come to the forefront, especially in recent years. My early influences were the business and executive sponsors who saw the importance of this role. I owe a lot of gratitude to leaders like Ken Parks, Jeff Wecker, Michael Richter, Andras Forgacs, Suzanne Lee, Mark Haseltine, and Tabitha Hickman, who advocated for and supported the importance of HR partnerships in strategic decisions while understanding that engaged talent always helps the bottom line.

HR influencers and voices were not as prevalent earlier in my career–I wish they were! However, these days, I’m inspired and excited by the voices of folks like Melanie Naranjo, Jill Katz, Amanda Halle, Zamena Ladak, Johannes Sundlo, and Mita Mallick (to name only a few). It’s exciting to see some great HR/People & Culture stars emerge and continue to challenge the status quo in favor of a more inclusive and thoughtful future of work.

What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?

My best mistake was not setting clear boundaries in my work life early in my career. While it was overwhelming and ultimately led to burnout, it taught me the importance of “filling your own cup first” and that you can’t do your best work when you’re overworked and under-rested. This idea of giving yourself permission to switch off is invaluable, especially in high-pressure roles. I think this is something that all organizations should proactively instill in their managers.

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

My favorite part has been seeing the field grow and the amazing talent pushing the boundaries of what it means to work in a field that supports everyone at work. Personally, knowing that former direct reports are now leading HR functions, VPs of People, Directors, and Senior HRBPs and/or entrepreneurs and coaches really fills me with gratitude and pride.

My least favorite part has been the wasted time and energy spent on leadership decisions that did not initially consider HR advice and employee needs, only to be reverted or reacted to later. This, plus the reactive nature of the market and trends, has made working in the field and balancing logic and care vs. trends and short-term outputs a bit exhausting.

It sounds like, through your experience, you really care about people and want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

Absolutely, caring for people and fostering a safe and comfortable work environment is at the heart of my philosophy in HR. My experiences have taught me that when employees feel secure and supported, they are more engaged, productive, and loyal to the organization. This ethos aligns perfectly with the core principles of people enablement, which is central to our work at Leapsome. One of the keyways I try to ensure this is through building a culture of open communication and trust. We encourage transparent dialogues where employees feel valued and heard. This involves regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and building robust psychological safety. After all, creating a safe and comfortable work environment is about respecting and valuing people as individuals first and foremost. It’s about recognizing their unique needs, aspirations, and contributions and creating an environment where they can professionally and personally thrive. This approach benefits the employees and drives the company towards greater innovation, resilience, and success.

How can HR most effectively demonstrate its value to the leadership team?

A critical narrative that needs more spotlight – generally not just for the leadership team – is the transformation of the HR department from a support function to a key business leader. It’s about recognizing the pivotal role of HR in shaping company culture and aligning it with the evolving expectations of the workforce, especially Gen Z. This shift in perception is crucial for the future of our industry. If you can demonstrate to your leadership team how the HR function has evolved and how critically embedded it now is in the business – that’s hard to argue with.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

In the upcoming years, HR is set for an evolution, differentiating itself from other departments. This role has already extended beyond traditional functions like payroll and benefits, becoming a critical business function, and it will continue to do so. HR leaders will be tasked with building and maintaining company culture, facilitating challenging conversations, and setting the tone for internal communications. HR roles will be as critical to an organization’s success as other C-suite roles and HR teams will continue to become a pivotal function for fostering organizational growth and navigating complex human dynamics.

In the dynamic landscape of the modern workplace, change is inevitable and ongoing. One transformative trend making waves globally is the integration of AI. As we move forward, AI is set to reshape the future of work, becoming a key tool rather than a replacement. HR must lead by example when it comes to rethinking how they work to become more agile and create leaner processes that enhance productivity and engagement, and we must learn more about AI and how it can help us make processes more effective, draw better insights, and analyses quicker, reduce bias, and improve workforce planning and succession planning. Embracing this technological evolution is crucial, as AI can enhance productivity and efficiency in ways that will redefine how we approach our professional careers. Particularly in the chronically under-resourced and overworked HR function, technology to take on repetitive, mundane tasks so you’re freed up for more strategic projects is long overdue.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the teams I’ve worked with and seeing them thrive as leaders, managers, and coaches. I am also proud that through difficult times, my teams and I have been able to support our employees through layoffs, life changes, and unexpected events through compassion, consideration, deep care and support, and clear communication.

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Individuals entering the HR field must possess creativity, business understanding, and a high emotional intelligence. Understanding the global landscape and staying aware of societal dynamics is important. As the pressure intensifies from both employees and employers to implement best practices, this challenge can be viewed as daunting, but it’s an exciting opportunity to add significant value to a company’s mission and vision.

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