Interview with our new Chief People Officer Donald Knight

Donald Knight headshot

5 mins, 51 secs read time

Introducing the new Greenhouse Chief People Officer Donald Knight.

Every new hire has the opportunity – and responsibility – to contribute to a company’s business goals as well as its culture. At a people-first company like Greenhouse with a well respected, widely beloved and award-winning culture, hiring a new people leader to help drive our company through its next chapter of growth is a paramount decision. We’re excited to introduce you to Donald Knight, the new Greenhouse Chief People Officer and share his passion for people and his personal mission to help everyone reach their highest potential.

Greenhouse: Talk a little bit about your journey to Greenhouse.

Donald: Journeys are about learning and growth, and they have the potential to teach people about themselves and the society in which they live. Having lived and worked in Europe for 5+ years, coupled with a childhood shaped by many moves due to my parents being military, I default to seeing the world through a global lens. The companies I have worked for also aided in shaping my outlook towards building bridges, not barriers with others.

Greenhouse: What excited you most about joining the Greenhouse team?

Donald: The people. I continued to hear so much about the Greenhouse culture. My enthusiasm reached peak levels when I got the opportunity to join the people who nurtured such a culture.

Greenhouse: Your career has spanned numerous industries, including the federal sector. What transferable learnings do you apply most in your work?

Donald: How we develop and retain people, coupled with efforts that help us scale are the most transferable from previous tenures at other companies. As Greenhouse grows far beyond the 600+ employees we have today, some of today's practices and processes will have to evolve as well. I have found that companies of all shapes and sizes appreciate it when we identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies and seek to solve them with an enhanced process or procedure.

Prioritizing the development of people fuels our ability to retain them in a meaningful way.

Greenhouse: What inspires you most about the work you do as a people leader?

Donald: The people team is core to any successful business because we balance being a team of talent gurus, strategy enablers, C-suite consiglieres and culture champions. We are inevitably one of the most trusted business partners and advisors to talent and leadership. As a result, my inspiration resides in our ability to deliver actionable insights and advice for the business. I'm confident our quest includes elevating our people team to be as needed and requested as our technology. To best support our customers, we strive to hold ourselves as the example of what strategic hiring and an effective and empathetic people team can achieve.

Greenhouse: How would you describe the evolution of the human resources function from what we used to know about it?

Donald: The evolution of HR parallels the evolution of hiring. Companies saw HR as an administrative function centered on personnel and employee satisfaction. Since then, it’s leapfrogged to being more intentional and strategic. We now know that talent-first and purpose-led engagement unlocks people’s potential and drives business success. I anticipate seeing the people team become more prescriptive in our diagnosis of the business and people moving forward.

Greenhouse: What is your personal philosophy when it comes to great hiring and talent development?

Donald: Most companies overlook and under-appreciate hiring because its origins stem from businesses searching for people to complete tasks. People want to feel fulfilled, and generationally that's abundantly clear now, more than ever before. Investing in people's first impressions and onboarding can result in greater talent returns. Studies show that investing in quality hiring processes and practices is more cost-effective than remediation like performance improvement plans or severances.

My philosophy on hiring is three-fold: companies need to be purpose-led, invest in a structured hiring process that allows cultural enhancers to join the company, and constantly evolve the talent value proposition to ensure that talent feels fulfilled.

“An environment where people can grow is an environment where people will stay.”

Greenhouse: At Greenhouse, our mission is to help companies get better at hiring to unlock human potential. How does your personal mission align with this?

Donald: The mission of Greenhouse is a BIG reason I’m here. In 2019 I woke up one day upset with the wasted potential I saw in the world my son was born into, and since then, I have been on a quest to change it for the better. The months that followed helped me see that the next phase of humanity will be written by those who sought to build bridges, not barriers with others. Part of unlocking human potential requires each of us to create proximity with others to help them grow from where they are to where they could be.

Greenhouse: As a parent, how do you balance work and family? What advice and encouragement would you offer to others trying to seek balance?

Donald: Work-life is often viewed and discussed as a balance. Over time, my perspective has shifted from a balance to a blender. Family, career, fitness and community are just a few blades in my blender, but each is important to me. My goal now is to ensure the blender is always working correctly, and sometimes that means I have to pay attention to some blades more than others. My balance is knowing that when life requires me to provide further attention to the edges that are not as sharp as needed, I will humbly give myself the grace to do so.

I encourage others to prioritize their blenders the same way. Give others the leeway to make time for their blades so they will graciously give the attention needed to keep their edges sharp.

Greenhouse: We always encourage everyone to bring their most authentic, most complete selves to work. When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing most?

Donald: Daylen, my son, takes up most of my free time, which brings me so much joy because I have a front-row VIP seat to his growth as a man, actor and quarterback. Podcasting is often a priority for me, along with travel, fitness and ice cream.

The best cities allow me to enjoy all four more than once.

As we all have been embracing in recent years, the best teams bring people together who have a wide range of interests, professional and personal backgrounds. Donald brings so much unique experience to Greenhouse, in addition to his warmth, clear vision and enthusiasm for our mission to help all companies become great at hiring – and these are just a few of the reasons the Greenhouse Team is so excited to welcome him. We can’t wait to see what he does next.

Want to join the team? Check out our open roles on our Career page.
Dinah Alobeid

Dinah Alobeid

is the Senior Director of Content and Communications at Greenhouse. She helps shape and share the Greenhouse brand story and keeps its audiences informed on company news and industry knowledge. Dinah has over 16 years of communications and content experience in the technology field and prior to Greenhouse, she built and ran the communications team at Brandwatch. She's an avid writer, dancer, foodie and book nerd. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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