HR Tech Interview with Monica Pool Knox, Chief People Officer at Domo

Journey into Tech

You have an enriched background in the people management industry. Please tell us a little bit about your journey in this industry and what inspired you to start at Domo.

After some time in telecommunications where I started my career (Verizon), a tour in CPG (PepsiCo) and a stint in entertainment (The Walt Disney Company), I decided to commit my career to the tech industry. I worked at Sony as an executive HR leader both as a business partner and the Chief Diversity Officer. I was living in San Diego at the time when I decided to move back to the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up.  Since I left after college, it had become the epicenter of digital tech companies. There, I had some amazing assignments with CBS Interactive where I led HR for digital properties such as Cnet and, as well as Twitter where I led HR for the Sales and Marketing teams. I joined Microsoft soon after Sataya Nadella was named as CEO to lead Global Talent Management before moving to the Azure Cloud and AI organization to head up HR for Mixed Reality and Cloud Security. I left Microsoft to become Chief People Officer for LivePerson, a global, publicly traded conversational AI company before joining Domo. I was drawn to Domo by the outstanding quality of the platform, the exceptional talent including the executive team, and the incredible future opportunity for the company.

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Please tell us a little bit about your HR technology and employee communication stack. Which tools are indispensable for a modern CHRO/ CPO?

Domo is unique in that we in HR use 3rd party software such as Greenhouse and UltiPro, but we also heavily use Domo as our HR data and analytics platform. The Domo platform is designed to drive action around data, and we have thousands of HR data points available and logically visualized to provide unique insights into our talent. For example, we use Domo to overlay Employee Survey data against attrition and employee exit data, to understand how our employees are moving within the organization both vertically and horizontally. For just about anything, we use Domo to track and analyze data and through these insights, understand how to better leverage our talent and stay connected to the lived employee experience at Domo.

What role can a Chief People Officer play in expanding the scope of DEI initiatives across global platforms: how do you design a people-centric DEI program?

Designing any effective people initiative starts with data. It helps you understand what is factually happening within an organization so you know where the gaps are and can quickly debunk assumptions based on opinions or ‘anecdotal’ theory. Sometimes, it can be challenging to capture important diversity dimensions like disability status in the US or religious affiliation outside of the US. But there are diversity dimensions that can be easier to capture globally like gender, generation or tenure. Whatever your organization can capture, start there. By administering employee surveys at least every 6 months with pulse surveys in between, you can obtain data that can be cut in multiple ways (by geo, various diversity dimensions, tenure, etc.), which can help you see where the opportunities are in the employee experience. For example, looking at the extent to which underrepresented candidates are on slates and the % of time these candidates are hired can give you clues as to whether you need to conduct recruiter or hiring manager training. If your organization is more progressive, HR should be looking at strategic talent planning or developing the company’s global talent strategy integrated with DEI goals based on talent needs in the next 1-2 years. Ultimately, an effective DEI strategy should align with the overall HR strategy designed to enable the business to achieve its objectives.

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In the modern context of employee experience, how do you help your organization with the various corporate workplace management benchmarks?  Culture, employee experience, productivity?

We rely on our recruiting team to help us with competitive intelligence so that we are staying relevant as dynamics in the talent marketplace shift real time. We conduct employee surveys every 6 months, along with other forms of robust employee listening systems, and evaluate our result not only based on internal trends but external industry benchmarks. The pandemic has clearly changed some of the ways we look at the employee experience and management benchmarks. Particularly, employee burnout has been an important topic that we have been looking at, trying to measure, understand and action plan around.

The last two years have accelerated digital transformation for businesses of all sizes and stature. What has been the biggest lesson for you that helped you stay on top of your HR policies? Would you like to share your pandemic experience on how you managed to continue your development works and research during these uncertain times?

The pandemic has flipped the employee/employer relationship on its head, which I think has challenged companies – in a good way. One theme that has emerged during the pandemic is our need to understand employees as unique individuals who are motivated quite differently. As an example, knowledge workers have demonstrated they can work from home and be productive. But as employers look to have employees back in the office for a myriad of reasons, I think companies that will win in this post-pandemic era will marry needs of the business with the unique needs of individuals and teams, making these decisions through data (surveying employees, measuring productivity, etc), while employing high EQ to engender employee trust.

What is your take on the buzzwords swirling around HR Technology now such as “career mobility” and “employee wellness monitoring”?

Career Mobility has consistently surfaced on surveys both inside of companies and across industry as one of the top reasons employees stay or leave a company. When an employee does not feel they can grow and develop new skills within a company, even with competitive pay, they are at risk of leaving for an employer who can provide that. Given what we have been through over the last  2 ½ years, burnout is at an all-time high. Workers who can work from home are often choosing to do so as they feel it offers optimum work/life balance. But they still struggle with where work ends and home life begins and are often not taking all the PTO available to them. So I love that HR Technology solutions are leaning in with approaches to enable meaningful career development experiences and help employees with staying mentally fit. Companies that can ‘crack the code’ in these two areas through HR technology solutions or other means are on their way to providing a competitive employee experience that will be hard to beat.

What is the future of HR management in the era of AI and automation?

I would like to see more HR professionals move into product design and development of HR technology solutions so that we are solving the more critical problems HR practitioners are having. With that concept in mind, I see HR professionals becoming more data driven, ensuring internal data is clean so that machine learning can be applied across large data sets to provide powerful insights that will drive better business decisions in learning, career development, DEI, onboarding and succession planning. Using AI can be particularly helpful to organizations in areas where we continue to struggle such as manager capability, career development and DEI. For example, if the majority of employees are saying the company has great DEI practices but employees such as women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community and disabled employees are saying the opposite, how can ML be used with relevant data sets across multiple points like attrition, promotion, PTO usage, and employee surveys, to make sense of this discrepancy? How can we use industry data on top of local company data to predict certain outcomes if we make strategic talent moves?

Because Domo is committed to having world-class company culture where the best talent thrive, what are some of the ways they have/are building this culture?

Employees are the life blood of a company. Above products, processes or strategy, culture has the power to make or break the success of a company. At Domo, we are laser focused on creating a world class company through a powerful culture. For example, we have prioritized making our company values real and are currently in the process of integrating them into our business processes from hiring to promotions, to rewards and recognitions to customer interactions. We employ a number of employee-listening systems such as bi-annual employee surveys, employee focus groups with executives and other listening systems, so we can keep our fingers on the pulse of what we are doing that is working well or not resonating with our employees and make adjustments. One of our top priorities this year has been DEI, understanding and evolving the experience of diverse employees from around the world. I don’t know that we will ever “arrive” at our cultural destination but we are committed to creating a workplace where the employee experience is richly fulfilling and the best talent thrives.

An event/ conference or podcast that you have subscribed to consume information about B2B technology industry: If invited, would you like to be part of a podcast episode on HR Tech/ IT/ Cloud / AI research?

Although not exclusively B2B, I enjoy listening to Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, in which tech leaders are often featured. It’s interesting to see how entrepreneurs, founders and other business leaders frame problems, develop theories and address those problems in creative ways.  

Thank you, Monica! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.

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Monica Pool Knox is Chief People Officer at Domo, where she leads the company’s global Human Resources (HR) organization.

With more than 25 years of experience in the HR industry, Monica has developed strategies, built global teams and evolved corporate cultures across multiple industries and companies. She has provided strategic leadership for organizations such as Microsoft, Twitter, Sony, PepsiCo, The Walt Disney Company and Verizon Wireless, Puerto Rico.Monica is known for building high-performing organizations and developing operational excellence through human-centric leadership. Also a data-driven leader, she creates value by developing innovative people programs and practices, and leveraging AI-enabled HR technology solutions, to increase the effectiveness of global talent programs. 

Monica serves as a board director for Seattle’s Swedish Health Systems, a healthcare organization with more than 10,000 employees, a board director for DreamStart Academy and as a senior talent advisor for Talentsky, a pre-IPO human capital management company.

 A San Francisco Bay Area native, Monica has a BA in Communications from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin.

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