Article: From HR to CEO: Rapid-fire with Sakshi Gupta, CEO of ROKA

Strategic HR

From HR to CEO: Rapid-fire with Sakshi Gupta, CEO of ROKA

HR leaders' strategic acumen and their unique ability to balance human and business imperatives shine brighter than ever, cementing their suitability to don the CEO's mantle. Here, we delve into the vision of a new CEO who made the leap from HR.
From HR to CEO:  Rapid-fire with Sakshi Gupta, CEO of ROKA

Back in 2014, a study by Ellie Filler of Korn Ferry and Dave Ulrich shed light on "Why Chief Human Resources Officers Make Great CEOs." Their findings were clear: among executives, it was the CHRO who resonated most closely with the CEO, second only to the COO. Cut to 2020, in the throes of the pandemic, HR leaders found themselves thrust into the centre stage like never before. They assumed critical roles as architects of resilience and adaptability, which has compellingly reinforced their case as the ideal candidates to take on the CEO role.

Their strategic prowess and knack for balancing human and business needs are more evident than ever. The skills they honed during the pandemic—from crisis management to prioritising employee well-being, to showcasing strategic agility—align seamlessly with the traits of a successful CEO.

Leaders  like Mary Barra, the first woman to lead one of the prominent big three automakers in the US; Leena Nair, the CEO of the French luxury fashion house Chanel; and Natasha Adams, the CEO of Tesco Ireland, have woven a narrative of their own. Leena Nair's candid LinkedIn post boldly emphasises that HR professionals should exude confidence, declaring, “HR is no longer a backroom department; it’s a vital part of running any successful business.”  


Here are some insights from a newly appointed CEO who forged her path from an HR background. The CEO of dating app ROKA, Sakshi, cut her teeth in HR for over 15 years, honing people strategies in professional services. 

To Sakshi, HR is more than a profession—it's a launchpad to influence both the human and business dimensions.  

You are a winner of People Matters Are You in the List of 2020?. Has this recognition helped shape your leadership style or contributed to your success as a CEO?

Winning “Are You in the List?” comes with a huge responsibility to nurture upcoming talent; hence, my leadership style has become more coaching-centric, a style which for me, is a key ingredient for a CEO

What exhilarates you the most about stepping into the CEO's shoes?

It’s the feeling of motherhood as I am building a company from scratch, much like raising a baby 

In these early CEO days, what surprising challenge threw you off balance, and how did you conquer it?

Taking strategic decisions with limited information and time. Counsel from my rich network of mentors and advisors has kept my boat sailing 

Would you share one early lesson you learned from your new role as CEO?

Strategy comes with execution so roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty ASAP 

Any priceless career advice you carry with you, and who gifted it to you?

Take a bet on yourself; if you don’t, nobody else will. Advice from my professional coaches and family

What's your number one priority as the new CEO of ROKA?

Fail fast to learn fast  

Beyond the boardroom, what's your hidden talent or offbeat hobby that adds colour to your life? 

Enthusiasm for Neurolinguistic Programming 

What's a book, movie, or TV show that you've enjoyed recently and would recommend?

Made in Heaven  

When you need to recharge and rev up, what's your musical go-to, the anthem that gets you moving? 

Unstoppable by Sia

After a demanding workday, how do you unwind and find your zen?

Self-reflection and role-playing with my 6-year-old 

If you could invite any leader, past or present, to dinner, who would it be, and what's the burning question you'd ask? 

My mother. Her secret sauce to making this world a happier place 

Share a captivating leadership book or resource that left a profound impact on you.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Read full story

Topics: Strategic HR, #RapidFire, #HRCommunity

Did you find this story helpful?



How do you envision AI transforming your work?

Your opinion matters: Tell us how we're doing this quarter!

Selected Score :