Armed with a degree in retail management, Michele Nyrop, Head- Employee Success, Salesforce India, fell in love with HR early in her career and there was no turning back. She is also extremely passionate about DEI and has been working on it all through her career and is the Executive Sponsor for Gap Inc’s African American Network Group and has also co-founded the Color Proud Council. In collaboration with the White House, she manages a programme to help non-traditional students enter the workforce.
In an exclusive conversation with Human Capital, Michele shares her experiences from across the globe and believes that the pandemic has been able to instil trust in the corporate landscape.
How do you look back at the professional journey traversed thus far? Could you share some enlightening moments experienced at various points in your professional journey?
With over 24 years of experience across the globe, I’ve had the opportunity to learn and work with several people across the business who gave me the opportunity to learn, grow and create a lasting impact. I look back at the years, with gratitude for the growth and pride in the impact I have been able to make.
Having the opportunity to live and work in different locations around the world has been the most enriching and enlightening part of my journey (both professionally and personally). Through these experiences, I have been forced to be very self-reflective on my leadership and how I need to adjust to meet people and teams where they are.
What is the most exciting part of your role at Salesforce?
Today, as the Head for Employee Success at Salesforce India, I have the opportunity to be a part of and carve out the growth story for the company in a growth market. The opportunity to drive a stronger and deeper alignment between business functions, the opportunity to impact employees, communities and the industry in such a material way definitely raises the stakes for me.
How do you fathom the two experiences - setting up HR from the scratch in an organisation, to managing well-established HR frameworks?
Both of these experiences are so rewarding and yet challenging. While the work and priorities may feel quite different, the commonality is that success comes from being very in tune with the current needs of the business and building the right capabilities and relationships to deliver value.
Having been associated with the Information Technology Sector, what is your understanding of the business, and how big a role does HR play in this sector? Were there any sector-specific challenges and opportunities you encountered?
With the pandemic, technology is at the heart of nearly every aspect of our lives and this will only increase in the years ahead. Human Resources is a strategic function and it is critical for professionals to have transitioned to true strategic partners - using data and analytics to generate insights into organisational health, and recommending strategies to support organisational transformation growth.
HR has a significant role to play in helping our organisations to mature and build a foundation for long term, sustainable growth. So, much of our focus in the last couple of years has been on managing the pace of current growth which makes it challenging to step back and focus on long term talent investment strategies.
What are some of the values and ideologies with regard to which you think leaders should definitely walk the talk to win stakeholder confidence?
If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us it is Trust. Trust in people, businesses, government and almost everyone. Never has trust and transparency been more important for all of us to model. Stakeholders are demanding visibility and open dialogue. With so much uncertainty in the world, our customers and employees are counting on us to continually earn their trust. With transparency comes vulnerability and nothing breaks down barriers and builds trust better than being vulnerable and open as a leader.
Another core quality that we all are solving for across the globe is Equality. This is a core tenet of how we run our business at Salesforce, and we believe that equality and diversity make us a better company and community. We respect and value employees from every background, and we thrive as a result. We strive to create a workplace that reflects a society where all employees can feel that they are seen, valued, and empowered. We believe that business is the greatest platform for change, and all businesses have the opportunity to be a platform for change. We are committed to making an impact on our community.
As a part of the Salesforce family, what will be your focus for 2022? What are the organisational goals that have been set by you?
In a nutshell, my responsibility is to assure that the organisation can meet its growth ambition. Salesforce India is critical to the success of Salesforce globally. Our focus will be on building the right Culture, Capabilities and Operating model for the future. Building meaningful careers is the foundation of the impact I would like to create at Salesforce. In this remote environment, this is not set to get easier. My goal is to support the company to create its own digital HQ which connects its employees, customers, and partners while empowering employees to thrive in a work-from-anywhere world.
Up-Close and Personal
What caused you to steer your career towards HR?
I actually started my career as a manager in the business but was drawn to HR because I could see the opportunity to make a broader impact on people and really redefine employee experiences.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I LOVE to walk- for miles and miles, hours and hours. It’s when I can let my mind rest and where I do my most creative thinking!
Can you share some of your experiences of travelling to different places? What have you gained from these experiences?
I have been so lucky to have lived, worked and travelled to dozens of countries. When you spend enough time to really get immersed in different cultures, you learn to let go some of what you hold true. You let go of what’s right or wrong- good or bad through your narrow lens and begin to see things from a different perspective.
Who would you credit in your life as a great influence in shaping the man that you are today?
My mother taught me to be humble, happy and live a life of adventure and learning. Without her, I wouldn’t have had the courage to experience all of the things that I have.
What’s the one thing you’re deeply proud of but would never put on your resume?
I had the chance to visit the White House for a programme that I built and met the then First Lady Michelle Obama. It was a dream come true and she is the ultimate working mother!
What’s the one dream that you’ve tucked away for the moment?
Retirement. My parents are role models for retirement. They always say that every week they have 6 Saturdays and a Sunday. That sounds pretty dreamy!
What is the one thing that people consistently ask for your advice on?
I’d say career advice is the #1 ask that I get. I’ve had an amazing run with so many leaps of faith and decision points along the way to learn from.
When was the last time you astonished yourself?
I guess moving halfway across the world, by myself, during a pandemic astonished most people and even me.
What do you value most: free time, recognition, or money?
Time over money definitely. Not necessarily free time, but time for what I want to be doing. Impact over recognition. I don’t care about recognition, but I do want to be able to feel my contributions- to quietly know that I am making a difference.
Favourite Quote: “Everything will be OK in the end. If it isn’t OK, then it isn’t the end.”
Leadership style: High empowerment with High support. My goal is to give my team psychological safety...not so that they can feel comfortable, but so that they can have the courage to go out on the ledge and do the hard work/have the tough conversations/take the important stands knowing I have their back.
Current Professional Goal: After 24 years in HR, having held a large CHRO role, my only goal is to do good work and make lasting contributions.
Favourite Movie: Anything with Audrey Hepburn
Favourite Music Artist: Beastie Boys
Life is… what you make it. One of my favourite song lyrics is “It’s not getting what you want it’s wanting what you’ve got”
Family is… a gift
I strongly believe in… the good in people
The most important thing I do when I have a day off … get outside
I deal with setbacks by… there’s nothing like a deep breath and a new plan
3 Things I never leave home without… my mask, my phone and my air pods
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