We’re excited to announce that Elisa Steele has been appointed Namely’s CEO. She’s a seasoned tech executive, Namely Board Member, and brings over 25 years of leadership experience to the table. Elisa has held the position of Head of the Office of the CEO since May, previously was the CEO of Jive Software, and has held senior leadership roles at Microsoft, Yahoo!, Skype, and Sun Microsystems, among others.
Elisa successfully led the leadership team through Namely’s latest round of funding, propelling the company further along its journey to empower HR, enable employees, and drive strategy at the leadership level across mid-sized companies.
We sat down with Elisa to discuss her new role, learn what brought her to Namely, and understand her goals for the company.
What brought you to Namely?
I’ve always been excited by Namely’s platform and mission. Engaging communities through powerful communication platforms has long been a theme in my career, and Namely’s commitment to accessibility for everyone company-wide makes it unique in the space.
I had the chance to learn more about Namely when I joined the Board last September and have had a close-up view of both Namely’s opportunities and challenges. Namely is a thriving company with strong values that the team lives every day. They have become guiding behaviors for all Namelys to respect and live by. It’s a unique and amazing culture and I felt an instant compatibility with them.
For the past two months, I’ve had the honor of stepping in to head the Office of the CEO and worked closely with our senior leadership including Graham, Dan, Paul, and Kerry - who each bring unique experiences and skills to Namely. In working closely with them, talking to our customers, meeting Namely teams across our many offices, and understanding our roadmap, I realized that Namely was a unique and exciting opportunity for me! Additionally, we just completed a $60 million growth round. As the company scales, it’s a chance to prepare Namely to scale and set itself up for operational excellence at scale.
What’s your favorite part about leading Namely so far?
Being part of a company and team that’s addressing a critical need. The workforce is changing, and the HR function needs to be both strategic and operational for businesses to be successful. Additionally, working arm-in-arm with this team is super inspiring to me.
What do you want Namely to accomplish in the next year?
The market opportunity is immense, and I believe Namely has the potential to be the de facto HR solution for mid-market companies.
We are already the leading all-in-one HR platform for mid-sized companies, and we will seize this opportunity with a best-in-class leadership team. With our latest round of funding, we will deepen our investment in our team, in our product, and in our operations capability to continue to scale.
We have aggressive goals that drive toward significant growth in all areas of our business, and we could not be better positioned to achieve them.
What excites you most about the Namely platform?
I believe in this company and our mission—to help companies build better workplaces. As a CEO, you get to focus on that for your own company, and I’m excited to offer products and services that help CEOs make their workplaces and people a competitive advantage.
I’m excited by the power of what we can do. Yes, we handle the essentials (HRIS, payroll, benefits), but we go beyond that. For example, we just launched a diversity dashboard which empowers HR professionals to dig into their own diversity and inclusion stats and transform their strategy as a result. It’s a level of data and insights that mid-sized companies just haven’t had access to.
When you empower HR and managers with this data, you help them build better companies and better businesses, which is directly aligned with our vision. Companies are in an endless quest to find, engage, and retain top talent. It’s one of the biggest challenges business leaders face, and this is a platform that can—and should—be central to companies’ employee strategy.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I learned early on in life that you have to earn your accomplishments. My parents taught us that lesson every day through their actions. Work hard, offer your best, and never compromise on values. Doing your homework and coming prepared, ready to participate, is essential!
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
The more responsibility you earn, the more you have to be a good listener. It’s critical to hear other points of view from different perspectives. That helps you more deeply understand the issues you will likely impact with your decision-making and leadership.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
I dreamed of running a hotel! I wanted to welcome guests and make their experience special and memorable. I love surprising and delighting people with things they just didn’t expect! I still have that desire today and as a CEO, I can apply that to our people, our products and our customers.
What are your best personal tips for engaging employees?
Be authentic. When you tell the truth, you’ll get the same in return. Employees don’t want a ‘story,’ they want to know how they can help the company be successful. They want to know how they can add value. That means you need to be open to candid and continuous discussion, so you can always be improving.