For rapid growth companies, hiring the right talent at all levels is critical to delivering sustainable growth and outpacing the competition. Hiring a Chief People Officer (CPO) sends a strong signal to your team – and to individuals you’re recruiting – that your organization prioritizes its people. Even more importantly, an effective CPO can increase the quality and velocity of candidates flowing into your recruiting engine and work to ensure that you are getting the most from that talent once they are on board. At Summit, we’ve helped many of our portfolio companies recruit talent strategy leaders, and we’ve found that the most successful share a common set of attributes.

Salesperson and Storyteller

The most effective Chief People Officers we’ve worked with have a skillset that’s more often associated with sales talent than with traditional human resources roles. They are strong communicators with a deep understanding of your product and an ability to authentically articulate the value proposition of your business. On the talent acquisition front, the CPO is selling an incredibly sophisticated product – a career transition – to a highly discerning audience. CPOs must have the ability to internalize your company’s story and convey it in a way that excites and motivates candidates to join in your growth journey. In effectively telling these stories, CPOs are better positioned to access and attract passive candidates – individuals who are successful and happy in their current roles and are not actively looking to make a change. Top CPOs thrive in building these relationships and expanding networks – they are constantly working to fill the talent funnel.

Culture Champion

Establishing a strong culture and maintaining that culture as your organization grows is a key part of any successful talent strategy. Your company is unique, and your Chief People Officer should play a central role in helping to articulate and reinforce that culture, both with prospective employees and current team members. CPOs understand the importance of connecting the work of your team to the mission of your organization, enabling team members to recognize the importance of their contributions. Effective CPOs understand the powerful impact that strong employee relationships and a positive culture can have on the recruitment funnel and later, the employee experience. They recognize that when great employees do elect to leave, your culture and the positive experience it creates can result in a productive network of referral sources and, in best case scenarios, help drive the boomerang effect of bringing your strongest employees back to your team.

Strategic Partner

As a key member of the executive team, the Chief People Officer will have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s organizational goals. This perspective ensures that talent acquisition and talent management priorities are designed and executed in a strategically consistent way. A skilled CPO creates scalable and repeatable processes at every step of the employee life cycle, from recruitment to exit. They measure success with data and analytics, and they make decisions with business outcomes in mind. A great CPO will push back on existing ways of doing things and recommend new and creative approaches – all in the service of attracting, retaining and fully leveraging the talent that you need to execute on your growth agenda.



Many leaders agree that people are their company’s most important asset, but an effective human capital strategy must go beyond headcount costs and hiring decisions. This is where a strategic talent leader can have the greatest impact. The right Chief People Officer will not only help you attract top talent, but will work to ensure that your team is engaged, empowered and more productive as your company scales.


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For more than 35 years, Summit Partners has been committed to partnering with exceptional entrepreneurs to help them accelerate their growth and achieve dramatic results. Today, Summit manages more than $19 billion in capital and targets growth equity and fixed income investments of $10 million – $500 million per company. Since inception, Summit has invested in more than 500 companies across technology, healthcare, consumer, financial technology and services, and other growth sectors.