A conversation with Nicolette Quispe, One Concern’s Chief People Officer
In this Q&A, our Chief People Officer Nicolette Quispe discusses personal and organizational resilience, career learnings and how to empower people to perform at their best.
Tell us about yourself. What brought you to One Concern?
I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of the One Concern team. I was specifically drawn to their focus on resilience. From personal resilience to organizational resilience, One Concern’s mission is important to our global future. My goal as One Concern’s Chief People Officer is to help build on the company’s outstanding, inclusive culture that enables our people to perform at their best. A core focus for me is ensuring employees maintain their personal and professional autonomy and have the organizational support necessary to thrive.
Prior to One Concern, my career has focused on building technology companies with inclusive, high-growth environments. I joined LegalZoom as the first member of the People Ops function, where I built that group to more than 20. I spent 14 years supporting organizational culture, talent acquisition, performance management, and learning & development. When I started at LegalZoom, there were only about 150 employees, and we scaled that to nearly 1,000. It was an exciting journey to support the firm’s growth, and the lessons I learned during that explosive phase in the company’s development have helped to shape my approach for growing companies. Prior to that, I held recruiting roles with two other e-commerce companies, including Yahoo and PeopleSupport. Seeing these firms grow and scale via acquisition and organic growth, and the key role of people & culture in that journey, inspired my philosophy on building resilient, supportive and welcoming environments for people to thrive and do their best work.
How would you describe your role at One Concern?
At One Concern, I lead People & Culture efforts, including enabling cross-functional collaboration across the organization, leading learning & development initiatives, and supporting employee experience at all levels of the company. We at One Concern want to retain and hire diverse, outstanding talent and ensure they are empowered to not only bring their authentic selves to the workplace, whether virtual or physical, but also to draw upon their unique backgrounds and experiences in order to better our One Concern community. From training initiatives and a focus on collaboration and allyship, to community-building with virtual, hybrid and community events, I am most interested in building a work environment for One Concern’s team members that inspires their passion to have a meaningful, positive impact on the world.
What are some learnings you’ve observed around remote workforces and the overall work climate driven by the pandemic?
As with all changes, the evolving standard of distributed work environments has brought many benefits for employee flexibility, while also bringing new considerations and challenges, like how to enable our people to stay connected and manage new demands and constraints on their time and work-life balance.
We know that virtual work environments can present new challenges for many of our people. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the team to see children appear in the background while they’re leading a presentation or workshop. Meanwhile, others may have families and shared living arrangements that require greater flexibility and different work hours. My role is to facilitate a thriving work environment, whatever that might mean for individual employees, where people’s unique needs for resources, time and engagement are not only met, but exceeded.
In particular, employee resource groups have helped us to foster community by establishing closer ties with our employees for team building, problem-solving and overall better communication. We’ve found remote workforces can democratize access to positions at the company and vastly deepen our talent pool beyond those living in proximity to our Silicon Valley HQ. Inspired by One Concern’s resilience perspective, this enables us to build a workforce of “digital first responders” — talent located in the communities One Concern aims to serve globally.
With our learnings from how the pandemic has affected us all differently, we are building an environment that looks at each person holistically, in order to empower them to perform at their best, while still managing their personal lives and all of the situations where home and work responsibilities overlap. This approach requires empathy for the individual. We actively seek out feedback, listen, and involve our employees collaboratively in building a productive community atmosphere. At the organizational level, we’re investing in strategies to build better cross-functional collaboration tools for our employees in virtual and hybrid work environments.
What is your view of personal and organizational resilience?
From the One Concern perspective, our mission of resilience is about making disasters less disastrous, and enabling better decision-making by addressing leaders’ blind spots, such as for climate risk. This applies at the personal level as well. By understanding our blind spots in terms of how we are or are not supporting our people, and understanding and preparing for the risks and opportunities of our respective futures, we have the ability to make our own journey and embrace the learnings from adverse events. The past year has brought enormous turmoil at the personal and macro level, and yet there are many opportunities to learn from the pandemic and its ripple effects in order to build a better future for us all.
What are you passionate about outside of One Concern?
I am passionate about so many things outside of One Concern, but the reality is that as a mother of two young children in a dual-working household, there are just not enough hours in the day to give back to my community and causes in a meaningful way, other than the vital work we do at One Concern. I love that our mission can actually make an impact, even in my local community. In September of 2020, we were forced to evacuate our home due to the Southern California Bobcat fire, and it feels amazing to spend my time supporting our mission of making disasters less disastrous, so that fewer people may feel the very real effects of the climate crisis.