TOP 30 STARTUP CHROs IN INDIA 2024

Step into the world of innovation and leadership as we spotlight the top 30 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.

TOP 10 STARTUP CHROs IN INDIA 2024

TOP 20 STARTUP CHROs IN INDIA 2024

21. Neetha Thomas

Neetha Thomas stands as a distinguished business leader, wielding a multifaceted skill set encompassing Strategy Planning, Business Processes, Human Capital and Organizational Development, Digital Transformation, and a fervent enthusiasm for startups. With a wealth of 15 years of experience, Neetha has adeptly translated overarching business visions into strategic initiatives that have not only enhanced performance, profitability, and growth but also significantly elevated employee engagement. Currently serving as the Head of the People Function at mCaffeine since January 2023, Neetha operates on-site, steering the human resources domain of the organization.

In her prior role as the Vice President of Human Capital & Administration at LogiNext from August 2020 to December 2022, based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, Neetha exhibited her strategic prowess. Preceding LogiNext, she served as the Head of HR at Unlimit, a Reliance Group Company, from September 2018 to August 2020. In this capacity, she played a pivotal role in establishing the company’s inaugural Global Human Resources Strategy, harmonizing it seamlessly with the enterprise business plan. Neetha spearheaded transformative Employee Engagement plans, resulting in an impressive 83% increase in employee satisfaction. She demonstrated her capacity as an agent of change by shifting HR operations from a reactive firefighting model to a proactive, responsive framework, resulting in a remarkable 72% enhancement of positive workplace sentiment.

Neetha’s global experience extends to her role as the Regional Human Resources Director at Clover Qatar from November 2016 to August 2018, based in Qatar. Here, she positioned the company for global growth, achieving a flawless 100% audit review. Her passionate and empathetic leadership style translated into a workplace where employee complaints reduced by 65%. Neetha’s strategic acumen further unfolded during her tenure as the Organizational Development Manager at Qatar Museums Authority from May 2013 to May 2016. In this capacity, she managed the learning and development budget, spearheaded a digital transformation project implementing SAP, and received accolades from H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa for achieving organizational targets, earning the Highest Performance Award in the Country of Qatar.

Prior to this, Neetha contributed significantly to Qatar Foundation as an Employee Development Specialist from December 2011 to April 2013. During her time, she achieved 100% job satisfaction through talent placement and development and successfully managed the prestigious Qatar Career Fairs for two years. She had the honor of representing Qatar Foundation at The World in 2013 Festival in New York City.

Neetha Thomas is not only a seasoned HR professional but also a thought leader, recognized for her strategic thinking, change management expertise, and commitment to corporate governance. Her journey, which includes roles in startups, technology companies, and cultural institutions, attests to her adaptability and impact across diverse industry landscapes.

22. Smriti Khanna

Smriti Khanna emerges as a versatile HR leader, boasting a rich tapestry of experience that spans over a decade. With a robust background in human resources, she has successfully navigated diverse sectors, including beauty & personal care, FMCG, and telecom. Smriti’s commitment to fostering inclusive workplaces and championing diversity and inclusion is evident throughout her career.

Currently serving as the Vice President of Human Resources at WOW Skin Science since October 2022, Smriti operates on-site in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. In this capacity, she has crafted a comprehensive People Strategy aligning with business objectives across all functions. Her role involves collaborating with the Board and internal teams for culture development, overseeing various HR disciplines, and managing P&L for people costs and optimization efforts.

Smriti’s achievements at WOW Skin Science are notable, including the initiation and implementation of HR data systems for actionable analytics, the establishment of a bespoke employee pulse survey system for regular feedback, and the redesign of the compensation and benefits policy to enhance employee salary value without increasing organizational costs. She has also spearheaded a significant improvement in the Annual ESG assessment scores.

Before her current role, Smriti served as the Associate Vice President – HR Business Partner at Livspace from April 2021 to September 2022. During this time, she played a crucial role in redesigning the organizational structure and strategy to align with changing business models. Smriti fostered a high-performance culture through the implementation of a comprehensive rewards system, HR technology enhancements, and managerial training. Her responsibilities also extended to overseeing business continuity and crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic, managing early career programs, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Her earlier experiences include roles at Nestlé, Bharti Airtel Services, and a freelance stint as an Independent Consultant for incubation-stage startups. Noteworthy is her tenure as the Factory HR Manager at Nestlé, where she managed HR functions across diverse units and achieved several key accomplishments, such as assisting FSSAI in establishing HR systems and navigating challenges during the Maggi ban in India.

Smriti’s educational background is marked by a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from XLRI Jamshedpur and a Bachelor of Commerce from Gujarat University. Her commitment to learning and development is evident through her participation in various extracurricular activities during her academic journey.

In summary, Smriti Khanna’s journey in the field of human resources showcases her as a dynamic and accomplished professional, contributing significantly to organizational growth, employee engagement, and fostering inclusive workplace cultures. Her strategic acumen, coupled with a passion for unlocking the limitless potential within organizations, positions her as a trailblazer in the HR domain.

23. Kavita Azad

Kavita Azad is a seasoned HR leader with an extensive career spanning over 20 years, contributing her expertise to both global and Indian multinational organizations, as well as startup ventures. Her diverse skill set encompasses various HR domains, including Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Engagement, Recruitment, Capability Building, Organizational Effectiveness, HR Transformation, and People Experience strategies. Kavita is driven by a strong passion to cultivate successful organizations through the establishment of positive work cultures.

Currently serving as the Chief Human Resource Officer at CollegeDekho since August 2022, Kavita plays a pivotal role in shaping the HR landscape of the organization. CollegeDekho, based in Gurugram, Haryana, India, benefits from her wealth of experience and strategic vision to enhance its human capital capabilities.

Prior to her role at CollegeDekho, Kavita served as the Co-Founder of Hokart from June 2020 to July 2022. During her tenure, she contributed to the establishment and growth of the startup, showcasing her entrepreneurial spirit and leadership capabilities.

Her journey in the corporate world includes a stint as the Vice President Human Resources at eClerx from January 2018 to January 2020, where she played a crucial role in shaping the HR function. Before eClerx, Kavita held the position of Associate Vice President Human Resources at LiquidHub from August 2016 to December 2017, gaining valuable experience in managing HR operations.

One of the significant milestones in Kavita’s career was her role as the India HR Transformation Lead at British Telecom (BT Group) from September 2011 to August 2016. Here, she was instrumental in leading transformative initiatives within the HR function, contributing to the organization’s growth and development.

Earlier experiences include roles at American Express, Convergys, Bharti Teletech Limited, and Specialist HR at Bharti Teletech Limited. Her academic journey includes a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in HR and Marketing from Army Institute of Management & Technology, formerly FOMS, CMM, Jabalpur, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics from Delhi University.

Kavita Azad’s illustrious career trajectory is marked by her continuous pursuit of excellence in the field of human resources, evident through her leadership roles, strategic contributions, and commitment to fostering positive work environments.

24. Maitreyee Roy Chowdhury

Maitreyee Roy Chowdhury is a seasoned Human Resources professional with a rich and diverse experience spanning over 16 years, predominantly in the fast-growing fintech startup sector. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President and Head of Human Resources at CASHe and 13Karat, two prominent AI-driven credit-led financial wellness platforms in India, Maitreyee is at the forefront of shaping people and culture strategies for these organizations. Her role involves creating and nurturing a high-performance culture that emphasizes innovation, collaboration, and diversity. As the HR leader, she oversees critical aspects such as talent acquisition, management, development, retention, employee engagement, wellness, and recognition.

Maitreyee Roy Chowdhury’s passion for building positive work environments is evident through her application of neuro-linguistic programming, psychology, and organizational behavior. This unique skill set allows her to design and deliver effective learning and development programs, coaching interventions, and feedback mechanisms. Her commitment to empowering employees to achieve both personal and professional goals underscores her dedication to creating a holistic and supportive workplace.

Prior to her current role, Maitreyee held leadership positions in other notable fintech organizations, including her tenure as the Head of Human Resources at Fibe.India (formerly EarlySalary). Here, she contributed significantly to HR operations, performance management, change management, and strategic human resource planning. Her impact extends to various facets such as customer experience, leadership, and training & development.

Her previous experiences also include roles at HAPPY, FutureZone, and Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, where she served in leadership capacities, focusing on talent engagement, talent management, HR strategy, and training & development. With a solid foundation in HR planning, talent acquisition, and organizational development, Maitreyee has consistently played a pivotal role in driving positive change and ensuring the success of the organizations she has been a part of.

Maitreyee’s academic journey includes an MBA with a specialization in HR and Marketing from the Army Institute of Management & Technology and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics from Delhi University. Through her extensive experience and continuous commitment to excellence, Maitreyee Roy Chowdhury stands as a prominent figure in the HR landscape, contributing significantly to the success of the organizations she serves.

25. Asit Kumar

Asit Kumar, GTML™, is an accomplished Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) with a remarkable 15-year career primarily focused on the Information Technology sector. Currently holding a crucial position at Lendingkart, Asit brings extensive expertise across various facets of the Human Resources domain. His professional strengths lie in the comprehensive management of the workforce, showcasing proficiency in career development, talent management, employee engagement, rewards and recognition programs, performance management, and the strategic implementation of retention measures.

One of Asit’s key areas of expertise is compensation and benefits, where he has actively contributed to designing and implementing competitive compensation structures, policies, and benefits frameworks. His strategic approach ensures alignment with organizational objectives and enhances employee motivation. Asit Kumar is recognized for his forward-thinking leadership, utilizing data analytics and reporting tools to derive actionable insights. This data-driven approach empowers him to make informed and strategic HR decisions, contributing to the overall success of the organization.

In addition to his proficiency in various HR domains, Asit excels in HR integration during mergers and acquisitions, showcasing his ability to navigate organizational changes seamlessly. His expertise ensures the alignment of HR processes for a smooth and harmonious transition during times of significant change. Asit also brings extensive experience in managing both campus and lateral recruitment processes, highlighting his capability to attract and acquire top talent from diverse sources.

Academically, Asit holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources from the esteemed Xavier Institute of Social Service. Complementing this, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics, with majors in Physics and Mathematics, from Science College. As the CHRO at Lendingkart, Asit Kumar stands as a leader who combines strategic vision with a hands-on approach, fostering a positive work environment and significantly contributing to the overall success and well-being of the organization and its workforce.

26. Shanil Verma

Shanil Verma is a distinguished Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) currently serving at Turtlemint, a position he has held since February 2021. With over 15 years of comprehensive experience in the experience in Technology, Automotive/EVs, Pharma, BFSI, Shanil is an accomplished HR professional with a strong focus on various aspects of human resource management.

In his role as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Turtlemint, Shanil Verma plays a pivotal role in shaping and executing workforce management strategies. His expertise encompasses career management, talent management, employee engagement, rewards and recognition, performance management, and retention measures. Additionally, Shanil has a keen interest and proficiency in compensation and benefits, including the design and implementation of compensation structures and benefits policies. His skills also extend to data analytics and reporting, showcasing a commitment to leveraging data for informed decision-making.

Before joining Turtlemint, Shanil Verma contributed significantly to Mahindra Electric, a leading player in the automotive industry specializing in Electric Vehicle Technology. Serving as the Head of Human Resources at Mahindra Electric for six years from March 2015 to February 2021, Shanil was responsible for leadership development, strategic alignment of HR practices with organizational goals, and managing the entire talent lifecycle and organizational development. His role required him to represent the HR function at various high-level discussions, including Board meetings and external forums.

Prior to his tenure at Mahindra Electric, Shanil held roles of increasing responsibility at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals and Mahindra & Mahindra, where he honed his skills in HR planning, talent acquisition, performance management, employee engagement, organizational development, and various HR operations. His diverse experience includes handling HR responsibilities for key therapy areas, leading HR initiatives in talent management, succession planning, and career development frameworks.

Shanil Verma’s is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and have a postgraduate diploma in Human Resource Management from SCMHRD (Symbiosis Center for Management and Human Resource Development) He also have extensive experience in Merger and Acquisitions.

With a strong foundation in HR principles, strategic thinking, and a holistic approach to human resource management, Shanil Verma stands as an influential figure in the field, contributing significantly to the success of the organizations he has served.

27. Prashant Khullar

Prashant Khullar is a seasoned Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) and HR Leader currently holding the position at Ecom Express Limited since March 2023. With over a year of experience in this role, he leads a dynamic team of over 280 HR professionals, catering to the needs of over 50,000 employees at Ecom Express. The company has achieved a remarkable full-state coverage strategy, delivering to over 1.2 billion people across 25 states in India. Prashant has been instrumental in aligning, simplifying, and balancing HR processes to create a competitive advantage for the organization.

In addition to his role at Ecom Express, Prashant Khullar is the Founder & CEO of “nerv2serv Learning Company,” a venture he led from November 2022 to February 2023. During this period, he contributed to helping organizations build their Service Triangle, focusing on People Leadership, Customer Obsession, and Organizational Balance through unique program offerings. His clientele included well-known organizations such as Axis Bank, BLS International, Amway, Carrier, and Midea. Prashant also served as an Executive Coach for several HR leaders across various industries, showcasing his commitment to talent development and coaching.

Before his current roles, Prashant Khullar served as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Max Life Insurance Company Limited from July 2019 to November 2022. In this capacity, he led various aspects of HR, including Employee Experience, Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, Compensation & Benefits, HR Operations, Digital HR & Technology, Future Leaders Program, POSH, and Employee Relations. He received the CEO Award for being the “Customer Champion” for the organization.

Prashant has a rich background in HR leadership, having served as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited from April 2016 to April 2019. Here, he oversaw HR policies, organizational development, training & development, compensation & benefits, and leadership development for over 5000 employees. Earlier in his career, he held HR leadership positions at The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) and worked with renowned brands like Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, contributing significantly to talent development, total rewards strategies, and organizational effectiveness.

Beyond his professional roles, Prashant Khullar is a visiting faculty member at SP Jain Institute of Management & Research in Mumbai, where he leads sessions on HR strategy and leadership development. His academic qualifications include an MBA in Human Resources, Finance & Marketing from SPJIMR SP Jain Institute of Management & Research and a BA (Hons) in Hospitality Management from the University of West London. Additionally, he has completed certificate programs in Executive Leadership and Strategic Human Resources Practices from Cornell University.

Prashant Khullar stands out as a strategic HR leader with a holistic approach, contributing significantly to organizational success through innovative HR interventions and initiatives. His expertise includes strategic HR, talent acquisition, compensation & benefits structuring, leadership & talent development, coaching & mentoring, employee engagement, improving workplace productivity, new startups & acquisitions, and employee relations.

28. Rajat Mehta

Rajat Mehta is a seasoned HR professional with an impressive track record of over 14 years, specializing in talent management, leadership development, and organizational culture building. Currently serving as the Vice President – HR at Stanza Living since September 2018, Rajat holds a pivotal role as a core leadership team member, leading a team of 25 individuals. In this capacity, he oversees the entire spectrum of HR operations, including recruitment, performance management, talent assessment, succession planning, employee engagement, and policy formulation.

At Stanza Living, Rajat has been instrumental in shaping and nurturing the organizational culture, serving as a crucial link between the strategic vision and its effective execution. His role involves advocating for a strong culture in the highly compliant organization, ensuring that the workplace remains enjoyable and conducive to professional growth. Rajat’s contributions extend across multiple areas of focus, including talent acquisition, leadership and organizational development interventions, operational HR management, performance management, policy development, employer branding, and building organizations from scratch with the establishment of robust systems and processes.

Key achievements during his tenure at Stanza Living include the successful recruitment of over 3000 employees across India within a span of 12 months. Rajat collaborated closely with business leaders on critical aspects such as manpower planning, budgeting, and forecasting, showcasing his strategic approach to talent acquisition. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in fostering a culture of high performance, aligning talent with performance management systems, and enhancing leadership capabilities through talent identification, acceleration, and succession planning.

Prior to his role at Stanza Living, Rajat Mehta served as the HR Business Partner (GM) at Lenskart.com from September 2014 to August 2018. In this role, he spearheaded the strategic development and execution of talent management and acquisition needs. His responsibilities included overseeing manpower planning, budgeting, and forecasting, resulting in the successful recruitment of 2500+ employees within a 24-month period. Rajat was an integral part of the leadership team, contributing to strategic decisions and playing a key role in succession planning.

Before Lenskart.com, Rajat co-founded and managed the Executive Search Vertical at Hi-Q, focusing on high-value relationships and critical searches for senior and key leadership positions across various industries. His career also includes roles at Intersearch and APPT Corporation in London, UK, where he gained international exposure in senior-level executive search and senior management training.

Rajat Mehta holds a Master’s in International Management from the University of West London and a Bachelor’s degree in History (H) from Delhi University. His diverse and extensive experience in human resources, coupled with his strategic mindset, positions him as a valuable leader in the field, capable of driving organizational success through effective talent management and leadership development strategies.

29. Srinivas Reddy

Srinivas Reddy P is a seasoned Human Resources Director with a rich background in the insurance industry. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, he has over 13 years of experience, showcasing expertise in HR policies, labor relations, global talent acquisition, and compensation & benefits. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President (SVP) and Head of Human Resources at Pristyn Care since March 2022, Srinivas plays a crucial role in shaping the HR landscape of the organization.

In his previous role at MetLife, where he dedicated over 13 years, Srinivas served as the Director of Human Resources. During his tenure, he effectively managed the recruitment team across GSS sites, overseeing sourcing and staffing activities to provide support and motivation. His responsibilities included advising senior management on significant staffing, sourcing, and recruiting initiatives, contributing to the hiring of approximately 1000 employees annually. Srinivas also played a key role in selecting, appointing, and managing third-party vendors, ensuring performance metrics were appropriate and monitored.

Prior to his role as Director of Human Resources, Srinivas served as the Director of Compensation Benefits at MetLife for a year. In this capacity, he conducted job analysis to determine appropriate market pricing, reviewed salary increases, and advised management on compensation actions for employees, including executive compensation. His role also involved staying updated on government regulations, benefit program trends, and practices among similar organizations.

Before his time in compensation and benefits, Srinivas served as the Service Delivery Leader for Compensation & Benefits at MetLife. In this role, he developed an overall benefits communication strategy, including materials for new hire orientation, ongoing employee communications, exit materials, and annual enrollment communications.

Srinivas Reddy P began his career in HR with Hero BPO (formerly Hero ITES) as a Manager of Human Resources, where he developed, implemented, and administered the management-labor relations area. He investigated and provided guidance on problems such as working conditions, disciplinary actions, employee grievances, and applicant appeals.

Prior to Hero BPO, Srinivas gained experience in talent acquisition as the Manager of Talent Acquisition at Genpact (formerly GE Capital) and as an Assistant Manager of Human Resources in the same organization. His career started with a three-year tenure at Genpact, showcasing his dedication to the field.

Srinivas holds a General Management Program certification from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. He also earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from ICFAI Meritum College and completed his secondary education at St. Andrew’s High School. With a diverse and comprehensive background, Srinivas Reddy P continues to contribute significantly to the field of human resources, bringing his expertise to the dynamic environment of Pristyn Care.

30. Sidhartha Mehra

Sidhartha Mehra is a versatile professional with extensive experience as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) at Zolo, a prominent full-time co-living company based in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. With a tenure of over four years and seven months, Sidhartha has played a pivotal role in shaping the financial and human resource landscape of the organization.

Before joining Zolo, Sidhartha served as the CFO and Investment Director at Jupiter Capital Private Limited for nearly five years. Jupiter Capital is a leading investment and financial services firm headquartered in Bangalore, with a global presence in nine countries. During his tenure, Sidhartha demonstrated strong analytical thinking in strategy formulation, leading the team in various aspects such as deal closure, due diligence, business restructuring, and acquisition integration.

Sidhartha’s professional journey includes a significant period at GE Capital, where he held various roles, showcasing his expertise in financial planning and analysis, business performance and analytics, and commercial finance. As the FP&A Leader at GE Capital, he supported commercial lending, consumer finance, and private equity with $1 billion in assets under management (AUM). He provided shareholder oversight to SBI Card, ensuring timely and accurate analytical activities for decision support, financial planning, and reporting governance.

His role as the Head of Business Performance and Analytics at Barclays Shared Services further exemplified his skills in leading offshore teams and supporting retail banking, cards, asset and sale financing across geographies. Sidhartha focused on driving operational efficiency, maintaining governance, and ensuring compliance to policies. His contributions included supporting investor relations in building investor decks and analyzing the performance of peer banks.

Sidhartha’s international experience extends to his time as the Commercial Finance / Financial Planning & Analysis Leader in London at GE Capital Solutions UK. Here, he was responsible for the financial management of all revenue and fee income streams, leading business planning and annual strategic planning sessions. His role involved mergers and acquisitions, cost control, productivity initiatives, and commercial strategies.

Before his international roles, Sidhartha held positions at GE Capital in India, where he served as Assistant Vice President at GECIS, Operations Leader for global F&A teams, and Financial Controller at GE Capital Fleet Services Europe. His responsibilities included simplification and standardization efforts, change management, compliance, control, and financial management.

Sidhartha Mehra is a qualified finance professional, holding a B.Com (Hons) degree from Delhi University and certifications from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and The Institute of Company Secretaries of India. His diverse experience and expertise in financial management, planning, reporting, M&A, and business transformation highlight his significant contributions to the organizations he has been a part of throughout his career.

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