TOP 10 STARTUP CHROs IN INDIA 2024

Step into the world of innovation and leadership as we spotlight the top 20 Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) steering the growth of India’s leading startups in 2024. Uncover the unique strategies and progressive initiatives these visionaries employ to foster a culture of innovation, diversity, and employee well-being. Join us in celebrating the individuals shaping the future of work and redefining the norms of HR within the dynamic startup ecosystem.

01. Saket Kumar Dwivedy

Saket Kumar Dwivedy, currently serving as the HR Head at Arzooo & NU Living, brings over 17 years of rich and diverse experience in various facets of HR, contributing significantly to startup ventures and high-growth organizations. His extensive career spans across different industries, including internet, technology, telco, pharmaceuticals, and IT/ITeS, where he has managed different functions for organizations at various stages of evolution.

In his current role at NU Living since January 2023, Saket is responsible for organization building, setting up systems and processes from scratch, and fostering a high-performance culture in the Greater Bengaluru Area. Prior to this, he served as the HR Head at Arzooo, where he played a key role in organizational building, establishing systems and processes, and cultivating a high-performance culture in Bengaluru.

Saket has also contributed significantly to Bharti Airtel as the HR Head-Digital for two years from April 2020 to March 2022. In this role, he focused on scaling up the Digital organization within Airtel, setting up differentiated processes in performance management, leadership, and capability building, and building the digital brand. His expertise in HR transformation and change management is evident in his tenure at Airtel X Labs, where he served as HR Head-Digital.

Before Airtel, Saket held the position of Head – Human Resources at UpGrad.com, where he played a vital role in organization structuring, culture building, and setting up systems and processes from scratch. His career also includes leadership roles at MX Player and Times Internet, where he led the HR functions, set up teams from scratch, and implemented processes and policies.

Saket’s journey in HR began with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, where he managed end-to-end HR for international sales and later took on various managerial roles, including HR Analytics and HR Mergers & Acquisitions. He holds a PGDBM in HR from the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, and a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Jadavpur University. Saket’s comprehensive expertise in HR, spanning multiple industries and functions, showcases his proficiency in building and leading successful HR teams.

02. Rupini Raman

Rupini Raman, a seasoned HR professional with the designation of Head – Human Capital at Yulu, possesses an extensive background in strategic HR, specializing in Global Rewards & Compensation, Talent & Performance Management, and Employee Engagement. Her expertise spans various geographical regions within the MEA, EU, and APAC, and she has contributed significantly to diverse industries, including Logistics, ITES, Fin Services, and Hospitality. Graduating as a Hotel Management alumna from India’s premier educational institute, Rupini holds formal training in Management from some of the industry’s best brands.

In her current role at Yulu, where she has been serving since January 2022, Rupini is responsible for leading the Human Capital function. Her skills encompass stakeholder management, and she plays a crucial role in fostering a positive work environment and employee engagement.

Prior to Yulu, Rupini served as the Head of Human Resources at Vivriti Capital for nearly three years, based in Chennai. In this role, she continued to showcase her proficiency in stakeholder management, contributing to the organization’s overall growth and success.

Rupini also worked as a Consultant – HR Strategy and Operations at Shipa, based in Chennai, where she played a pivotal role in designing and executing Rewards & Compensation strategy, Recruitment strategy, HR analytics, systems, policies, and programs aligned with business objectives for Agility’s new digital startup.

Her substantial tenure at Agility, spanning over a decade from 2008 to 2018, saw her holding crucial positions such as Head – Rewards and Talent Management, MEA. In this capacity, Rupini designed, developed, and administered organization-wide strategic initiatives, including Total Rewards, Talent Acquisition, Executive hiring, organization design, change management, succession planning, career progression, workforce development, performance management, and employee engagement across the Middle East, Africa, and EU regions.

Rupini’s career journey includes various other roles such as Manager – Rewards & Talent Management at Agility and HR Manager: Business Partner at RR Donnelley. She has also worked with reputable organizations like Three UK, American Express, and The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

Educationally, Rupini holds a PGDBA in HR Management from Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, a Master’s in Economics & Statistics from Madurai Kamaraj University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in English, Economics, and Social Science from Delhi University. Additionally, she holds a Diploma in Hotel Management from the Institute of Hotel Management. Rupini’s career trajectory reflects her dedication to HR excellence and her ability to navigate diverse industries and challenges.

03. Sthuthi Murugan

Sthuthi Murugan epitomizes a curious learner with an unwavering passion for cultivating a formidable brand through the most critical asset – human capital. Transitioning from a finance-centric background, Sthuthi’s career has metamorphosed into that of an HR leader, dedicating the past 7 years to becoming the go-to person for HR within her organization. Her professional journey has witnessed a dynamic growth trajectory, spanning from large corporations to presently contributing to one of India’s fastest-growing startups. As a fervent startup enthusiast, Sthuthi thrives in the chaos and pace of the startup realm, where she has seamlessly assumed responsibility for all things people-related. Grounded in a strong empathetic approach, she operates at the intersection of ideas, information, technology, and marketing, exhibiting a keen eye for detail and a decisive, action-oriented mindset. As a valued member of the leadership team, Sthuthi defines, develops, and directs strategies aligning people goals with the overarching business vision, effectively positioning the people function as a strategic partner crucial to achieving business success.

04. Anvith Murthy

Anvith Murthy, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Rapido, brings over 15 years of global experience in human resources, showcasing passion and leadership in driving business impact through HR processes, culture building, HR technology, and people analytics. His role at Rapido involves creating a culture where individuals can have high-performing, collaborative, learning, and rewarding careers.

Anvith’s core competencies include a wide array of HR functions such as HR strategy, talent management, compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, employee engagement, learning and development, organization design, performance management, and employer branding. His educational background includes an MBA degree in human resources management from XLRI Jamshedpur, one of the top business schools in India. Anvith holds multiple certifications in HR-related topics, including compensation and benefits, artificial intelligence, and performance management. He is fluent in English, Hindi, and Kannada.

Before joining Rapido, Anvith Murthy served as the Senior Principal Consultant in Human Resources at Talentonic HR Solutions Private Limited from December 2017 to December 2019. In this role, he assisted start-ups and small/mid-cap companies in designing and implementing HR strategies. He also headed South India Operations and solution delivery in various HR domains, including talent management, performance management, employee engagement, competency framework, organization design, and restructuring, as well as compensation design and restructuring.

Prior to this, Anvith held the position of Deputy General Manager of Human Resources at Tata Motors from April 2016 to November 2017. Here, he designed and implemented an OKR-based performance management process and implemented talent management initiatives for high-potential employees. He was also responsible for the migration from SAP HCM to Success Factors.

In his extensive career, Anvith Murthy has held key HR positions at notable organizations, including Global Human Resources Business Partner at Alstom Transport, Senior Lead Human Resources at Infosys, Assistant Manager Human Resources at Ocwen Financial Solutions Pvt. Ltd., and Senior Software Engineer at Infosys.

Anvith Murthy holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in Human Resources Management/Personnel Administration from XLRI Jamshedpur. Additionally, he earned a Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Kurukshetra, where he was actively involved in college sports and extracurricular activities, including chess and table tennis.

05. Saurabh Deep Singla

Saurabh Deep Singla, currently holding the position of Chief HR Officer at upGrad, is an accomplished HR professional with a wealth of experience spanning over two and a half decades. His diverse expertise extends across various sectors, including Start-ups, Manufacturing, Managed Services, Food/FMCG Retail, Telecom, Mining, E-commerce Logistics, and Higher Education. A seasoned leader, Saurabh excels in driving growth, providing board advisory services, fostering diversity and inclusion, nurturing safety culture, and leading complex HR transformation projects on both national and global scales.

Before joining upGrad, Saurabh served as the Chief People Officer at Ecom Express Private Limited, where he played a pivotal role in the company’s success and earned recognition as “GPTW Best in Logistics.” His tenure also included a significant role as the Head HR and IR (Vice President) at G4S, where he spearheaded HR functions for 120,000+ employees, showcasing expertise in strategic business partnership, organization design, talent strategy, compensation and benefits management, change management, and employee engagement.

Saurabh’s illustrious career includes leadership roles at Rio Tinto, Yum! Brands, Whirlpool Corporation, Bharti Airtel Ltd, and various other organizations. His impactful contributions have been evident in roles such as Head – Global Recruitment & Talent Operations at Rio Tinto, where he led a team of 70+ recruitment professionals and transformed the recruitment team from a transaction-based service to judgment-based support. Saurabh also managed end-to-end staffing and HR automation for the India Cluster at Yum! Brands, where he achieved hiring numbers exceeding 300 for class hiring and 4,500 for mass hiring within a year.

With an Executive Certificate in HRM from XLRI Jamshedpur and a rich background in human resources management, Saurabh Deep Singla stands out as a strategic HR leader with a profound understanding of business dynamics and a track record of building successful partnerships and agile organizations. His commitment to excellence and transformative contributions across diverse sectors make him a respected figure in the field of HR.

06. Chitbhanu Nagri

Chitbhanu Nagri, currently serving as the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Razorpay, is a distinguished Human Resources professional with extensive experience in leading HR functions across various technology organizations, ranging from large multinational corporations to fast-growing startups.

In his current role at Razorpay since October 2020, Chitbhanu has been instrumental in overseeing People Operations, contributing to the success and growth of the organization. Prior to joining Razorpay, he held the position of Director of Human Resources at Moonfrog Labs, where he played a crucial role as the Head of Human Resources for one of India’s fastest-growing mobile games companies.

Chitbhanu Nagri has showcased his leadership skills as the Chief HR Officer at YourStory Media, heading human resources and facilitating the organization through a phase of accelerated growth. His tenure as the Senior Director and Global HR Head at Tavant Technologies from January 2015 to February 2017 highlights his responsibility for the Human Resources function, demonstrating his commitment to strategic HR management.

In his earlier career, Chitbhanu Nagri served as the Regional HR Business Partner at Dell Technologies, managing HR strategy and solutions for Dell’s sales workforce across various countries in India and APJ. He also held the position of Vice President of Human Resources at Flipkart, providing leadership to design, implement, and sustain a comprehensive spectrum of people processes and practices for the organization.

Chitbhanu’s journey in the field of Human Resources began at Accenture, where he held various roles, including General Manager of Human Resources. His last role at Accenture involved leading HR for Avanade Technology Group in India, overseeing talent management, engagement, retention, and demand fulfillment for 6000 employees.

Chitbhanu Nagri holds a Master’s degree in Personnel Management & Industrial Relations from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources & Marketing from DAV Centenary College. His educational background, combined with his rich and diverse professional experience, positions him as a seasoned HR leader with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in driving organizational success through effective people management.

07. Gitesh Karnik

Gitesh Karnik, currently serving as the Chief People Officer at Nearby Technologies Private Limited, boasts an illustrious career spanning more than two decades in the realm of human resources. His extensive professional journey showcases his adeptness in HR practices across diverse sectors, including IT/ITes, BFSI, Retail, Real Estate, and Hospitality. Gitesh has consistently demonstrated his leadership prowess in various senior management roles, contributing significantly to organizational transformations and change management projects that have left a lasting impact on business outcomes and employee engagement.

One of the key milestones in Gitesh’s career was his role as the Chief People Officer at Nearby Technologies, where he has been instrumental in shaping the company’s human resources landscape since August 2019. His skills in Compensation & Benefits have been evident in his tenure as Business HR Head at Poonawalla Fincorp, where he managed the entire employee life cycle and spearheaded HR digitization initiatives. This role was particularly crucial due to its impact on Magma Fincorp, Magma Housing, and Magma HDI, with interests spanning Automobile Financing, Housing Finance, SME Lending, and General Insurance.

Gitesh’s journey also includes significant roles at organizations such as HiCare Services Pvt. Ltd., e-Nxt Financials Limited (a TATA Enterprise), Tata Capital, Deutsche Bank, GE Money, and more. At Tata Capital, he held the position of Head-Talent, where he simplified people movements in the complex corporate world, playing a pivotal role in talent acquisition and career navigation for employees. His experience at GE Capital as Assistant Vice President-HR showcased his prowess in Compensation & Benefits, a skill set that he continued to leverage in subsequent roles.

His educational foundation includes an MBA in Human Resource Management from NMIMS, one of the premier business schools in India. Gitesh Karnik’s journey stands as a testament to his commitment to excellence in human resources, with a focus on strategic talent management, compensation strategies, and fostering employee-centric organizational cultures.

08. Viral Bansal

Viral Bansal, the Head of People & Culture at CheQ, is a seasoned professional with a remarkable 16-year career marked by significant achievements across HR Business Partnership, Compensation & Benefits, and Merger & Acquisitions. His dedication to delivering profound value to organizations has been evident throughout his tenure at Genpact, where he rose to the position of Vice President Human Resources during a 16-year span.

Viral’s core competencies encompass Compensation and Benefits, HR Business Partnership, M&A Due Diligence and Integration, Performance Management, Scorecard Constructs, Transformation, Change Management, and navigating the intricacies of leading start-up to scale journeys. As the Head of Total Rewards Transformation, he has played a pivotal role in creating a smart and unique ecosystem that integrates Data, Technology, and cutting-edge Analytics. This initiative aimed to provide a comprehensive perspective on the cost of Total Rewards, enabling timely decisions for both the organization and individual employees, thereby gaining a sustainable competitive advantage.

His leadership roles at Genpact have been diverse and impactful. As the HR Leader for the Banking and Capital Markets Vertical, Viral managed a workforce exceeding 10,000 employees, focusing on tailoring talent strategies for profitable business growth. His role as the Global HR Leader for the Digital Vertical saw him leading the start-up to scale journey for the organization. This involved designing a multi-pronged talent acquisition strategy, incubating and integrating Digital DNA, driving cultural shifts, and creating a nurturing ecosystem for the talent pool.

Viral’s journey also includes responsibilities as Assistant Vice President and India Compensation & Benefits Leader at Genpact, where he was instrumental in designing and executing Total Reward strategies across industry verticals and service offerings, impacting a workforce of over 50,000 employees. His role as an HR Business Partner for Finance & Accounting Operations further showcased his strategic contributions to people strategy and employee relations across the entire employee life cycle.

Viral Bansal’s educational background includes an MBA in Human Resource Management from the Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, and a B.Com (H) in Commerce from Shri Ram College of Commerce, emphasizing his commitment to academic excellence and a well-rounded approach to his professional journey.

09. Kalpana Swaminathan

Kalpana Swaminathan, currently serving as the Head of People at Groww, has accumulated a wealth of experience in the field of Human Resources, contributing significantly to the growth and development of various organizations. In her current role at Groww since July 2022, based in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, Kalpana is instrumental in shaping the People & Culture landscape of the organization.

Before her tenure at Groww, Kalpana held the position of Senior Vice President Human Resources at HomeLane, a role that spanned 7 years and 4 months from April 2021 to June 2022. Here, she played a crucial role in leading the human resources function, contributing to the overall organizational strategy. Prior to HomeLane, Kalpana served as Vice President Human Resources at an undisclosed organization in Bangalore for four years from April 2017 to March 2021, showcasing her commitment to long-term contributions to her roles.

Her professional journey includes a two-year stint as a Senior Manager in Human Resources at an undisclosed organization in Bangalore from March 2015 to March 2017. Kalpana’s experience also extends to the Mumbai Area, India, where she worked with DHL Express India Pvt Ltd from January 2012 to February 2015. In her role as part of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) team, she managed Learning & Development and Talent Management/OD interventions for the SAARC countries. Her responsibilities included leading Change Management initiatives through L&D, anchoring annual performance management, and potential assessment/talent review processes. She demonstrated proficiency in using Thomas Assessments and earned certification as a PDI360 feedback coach.

Further in her career, Kalpana served as Manager HR at Reliance Retail – Cash & Carry for 8 months from May 2011 to December 2011. Prior to this, she held the role of Manager Human Resources at RP Sanjiv Goenka Group, specifically at Spencer’s Retail Limited, from June 2007 to May 2011, contributing to the human resources function in Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore.

Kalpana Swaminathan holds an MBA in Human Resource from Anna University, where she pursued her Masters in Business Administration from 2005 to 2007. Her academic foundation includes a B.E. in Electronics & Communication, earned from Anna University, covering the years 2001 to 2005. Kalpana’s diverse experience and educational background underscore her multifaceted approach to Human Resources, making her a valuable asset in driving organizational success.

10. Umanath Nayak

Umanath Nayak, currently serving as the Head of HR at Wakefit, brings over 15 years of extensive experience in Strategic HR, Business HR, HR Operations, Talent Acquisition, and Talent Management. In his role at Wakefit since November 2019, based in Bengaluru, India, Umanath has been instrumental in shaping and driving the human resources function, contributing significantly to the organization’s growth and success.

Before joining Wakefit, Umanath served as GM HR at FreshMenu for a year from August 2018 to July 2019. His contributions to the HR landscape also extend to Gionee India, where he held the position of Regional Head HR in Bangalore for one year and six months from February 2017 to July 2018. Prior to this, Umanath gained valuable experience as Sr. Manager – Corporate HR at Papa John’s (GB) Ltd in Bangalore for two years and three months, playing a role in the success of the world’s 3rd largest pizza brand.

His career includes a significant tenure with Global Franchise Architects (GFA), spanning 7 years and 10 months. During his time at GFA, he served as Manager – HR (HRBP), contributing to the success of five food service brands with over 230 stores in eight countries. Umanath played a crucial role in building a world-class infrastructure to support and maximize the success of international franchised partners, emphasizing great products and a superior customer experience.

Umanath Nayak’s journey in HR began as an Assistant Manager HR in the southern region, where he was responsible for end-to-end HR delivery for four brands. His HR Generalist roles at different organizations, including Sandhar Technologies Ltd., added to his diverse skill set. Umanath holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources from St. Aloysius Institute of Education, Mangalore, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, HR, from Alva’s College of Education. His academic foundation, combined with his extensive practical experience, positions Umanath as a seasoned HR professional contributing significantly to organizational success.

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