Episode 270: The Role of the CHRO Leading a Remote Workforce

Today’s podcast is part of a series on the Workology Podcast focused on the role and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer, or CHRO. The CHRO is an executive or C-level role that deals with managing human resources, as well as with organizational development and implementing policies of change to improve the overall efficiency of the company. One of the reasons I wanted to do this series is because there is a lot of mystery around the CHRO role. I want aspiring CHRO’s to know what type of skills and experiences they need to promote into a future CHRO role along with hearing from senior HR leadership how they are partnering and collaborating with their executive peers. 

Episode 270: The Role of the CHRO Leading a Remote Workforce with Claudia Leitão (@ClaudiaLeitão)

How do CHRO’s work within a global organization during a global pandemic? In this interview, I dive into the subject of being a global CHRO and how this role can impact culture and communication for employees in countries around the world. I talked with Claudia Leitão, Global Head of People & Culture at Pipedrive. Pipedrive is the first CRM platform made for salespeople, by salespeople. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, Claudia partners with business leaders within her company to enable and scale growth, as well as improve people management programs and practices.   

Claudia has been in HR management for nearly 20 years. I asked how her experience and job titles evolve over time into a Head of People and Culture, or CHRO role. “Starting as a consultant, I was able to work in a lot of different areas within an organization,” said Claudia. “After this experience, I knew that HR was the field I would be most interested in, especially within the startup ecosystem. Everything at a startup happens very quickly…in the past 20 years, I worked with traditional companies in HR and strategically as a consultant. As HR professionals we had to reinvent ourselves to keep up with the changing needs of the global market.”

“Creativity, a beta-driven mindset, flexibility and adaptability are the soft skills you need to work towards leadership in HR.” - Claudia Leitão #CHRO #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet

Celebrating Company Milestones During a Pandemic

Pipedrive reached a milestone of 700 employees globally in December of 2020 and has 29 people in human resources. I asked Claudia how she and her team adapted to remote work globally. “We resisted at first…this is something no one has experienced before, but quickly shifted to a pragmatic approach. Pipedrive has a dispersed workforce, but we are very collaborative. The pandemic just reinforced that our communication and collaboration worked for our teams,” said Claudia. “We see ourselves as a very global team, but of course people were struggling personally and it was a challenge, but we were able to reinvent ourselves through programs that encouraged participation, engagement, communication and work-life balance.”

I asked Claudia how her company celebrated reaching 700 employees. “We couldn’t do our usual milestone celebrations, so we partnered with a NGO to plant 700 trees and we shared the information in our virtual gala. It made everyone feel how large an impact we could have as a team and it did phenomenal things for our engagement.”

“In the beginning of the pandemic, we quickly created a set of new traditions that would reinforce our culture. We have a monthly company all-hands, we have fancy Fridays where everyone dresses up, virtual coffees, virtual happy hours, and the most significant was our virtual gala celebrating 700 employees and recognizing outstanding employees for the year,” said Claudia.

“We could truly see in real-time how virtual events impacted our people and their engagement.” - Claudia Leitão #CHRO #WorkologyPodcast Click To Tweet

“Culture is a reflection of what we do every day as a team. Of course, we expect it to adjust, but what matters is what we do and how we do it. We work with the executive team to create conditions that drive our culture, like brainstorming activities and off-sites. The main focus is that we are proud of our culture and values and it shows in how we communicate with each other and how passionate we are about our work.”

It’s interesting to delve into how a role like CHRO whose experience more closely connects them to the strategy of the overall business works within a company leadership team, especially on a global scale, especially during a pandemic. The CHRO doesn’t just lead HR within a company, the role is also key to maintaining communication and company culture by adapting to what is going on in the world. I appreciate Claudia taking the time to share her experience with us.

Connect with Claudia Leitão.



Claudia Leitão on LinkedIn

Sales CRM Pipedrive takes majority investment from Visa Recruiting Partners to reach unicorn status

– Pipedrive Careers Page

CHRO Job Description

Your Guide to the HR Organization and Team Structures

Episode 263: The Role of the CHRO Leading Change

Will Remote Working Become the New Normal?

Episode Transcript


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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