It’s Not HR. Culture is Built With or Without Your Permission.
If you’ve heard me talk about Paid Family Leave, you’ve heard me talk about Katelin Holloway, because she’s the one who joined Reddit shortly after I returned as Executive Chairman in 2014 to help lead a turnaround.
She was instrumental in taking a company that had literally no HR department — even with about 70 employees — and helping us to build and scale a culture to nearly 650 people when she left at the end of 2019. Included in that was a first-class benefits plan that included paid family leave — a policy I took full advantage of and have been advocating for ever since.
Long before her role as Vice President of People and Culture at Reddit, Katelin was first introduced to the notion of intentional cultural development at Pixar Animation Studios, where she studied under an elite group of storytellers who ultimately changed the course of her career.
While working on 10 Pixar films and 3 Studio Ghibli movies and serving as an executive assistant to Pixar’s executive team, Katelin had an “Aha!” moment that she’s carried to this day.
She realized — culture is built with or without your permission. The more intentional you choose to be about the growth and development of your company, the more likely you are to succeed. Many first time founders overlook making this investment in the early days, and opt instead for superficial moves that improve metrics they think their board of directors wants to see. What they don’t realize is that these moves are often short-lived and neglect the long-term health of the business. Katelin has urged founders, including myself, to invest in building their culture and development strategically, with the understanding that the metrics will follow.
Throughout her time in industries from education to tech to restaurants and film-making, she’s seen that a single common denominator exists behind great organizations: they cultivate a sense of belonging that unleashes people to create beautiful, innovative products. She’s passionate about building scalable, inclusive institutional cultures and has helped push “HR” out of the back-office and into the boardroom — by using both quantitative and qualitative measurements.
By shifting over into the early-stage investing world, she’ll coach founders on how to do recruiting, how to structure compensation and measure performance, how to think about the built workplace and the way it influences company culture, when to formally bring these functions in-house with a first head of people, how to do on-boarding and then how to handle exit interviews.
We’ve noticed a trend of more and more thoughtful founders looking to deliberately build a culture earlier in a company’s life. That’s why it’s helpful to have a partner like Katelin who has done it many times before after working both at companies in their earliest days and then at growth-stage companies that have secured multi-billion-dollar valuations.
We’re also expanding our team by adding Zoe Perret as our Strategic Operations Lead.
Zoe is a skilled project manager with experience leading complex business operations. At Initialized, she brings her background in finance coupled with her passion for helping our portfolio companies grow.
Prior to joining Initialized, Zoe was a relationship manager in BlackRock’s Institutional Client Business. Zoe specialized in client partnerships, focusing on BlackRock’s strategic relationships with corporations, public pensions, and endowments across private and public markets.
Zoe also served on the Board of Oasis for Girls, a San Francisco based non-profit. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Business Administration from the USC Marshall School of Business.
She is a New Orleans native with a deep love of Cajun food, jazz and film camera photography. She is in the process of perfecting her crawfish pie recipe.
Welcome aboard, Katelin + Zoe!