Diane Adams, Chief People Officer at Qlik, stresses the importance of planning, prioritizing, and staying true to your values
When she met with Lars Björk, CEO at Qlik about joining his executive team, Diane Adams says that she knew it was the right move for her. Everything just clicked.
“We were so ‘on,’ so passionate around the same things,” remembers Adams, who today serves as Chief People Officer at Qlik. Her personal mission – which is to inspire others to lead extraordinary lives, personally and professionally – lines up perfectly with where the leadership team wants to take Qlik, which provides best-in-class self-service business intelligence tools.
“I hadn’t planned to do this,” she says of her decision to work at Qlik. “I planned to start my own company, as I couldn’t imagine being lucky enough to find a third “Once in a Lifetime” with a global technology company in high growth mode, a CEO who cares about the culture and people as much as I do, and a company who has a passion for making a difference and giving back. But after learning about how Qlik invests in their employees’ growth and the shared value of giving back outside work, Adams knew this move was the right one for her.
In the past six months, Qlik has hired 500 new employees – and every one of them has gone to Sweden for Qlik Academy, a week-long orientation training. In addition, every employee – and the team now numbers 1,900 – attends the annual company summit. Recently, the four-day summit took place in the Dominican Republic, and it provided an opportunity for the entire team to get fired up about the company’s strategy and goals for the year ahead. Adams notes that’s it’s also a great chance for employees who work around the world to connect with each other.
“We’ve done the analysis a few times and at the end of the day, we always decide that it’s well worth the investment for what you get: engaged employees,” says Adams, who was a business major at the University of North Carolina and started her professional career as a financial analyst.
A veteran human resources leader at high-tech giant Cisco and healthcare software innovator Allscripts, Adams attempts to live her life in a very intentional way.
She says it all stems from her childhood upbringing. “I was instilled with really strong values, such as a strong faith in God, family comes first, and friends support each other without judgment,” says Adams, who describes herself as grateful and embracing every day.
“Stay true to your values and live every day as if it were Christmas Eve,” says Adams, harkening back to her mother’s advice to her during her childhood. She draws on this advice regularly in her career – even before her role at Qlik.
Adams had started as a financial analyst at her first employer but then secured a role in human resources where she was a recruiter; she quickly found that she loved matching the right talented professionals with the right career paths. Out of nowhere, her previous manager offered her a significant promotion and an accompanying pay raise.
She remembers now that she took the weekend to mull it over. In what Adams calls a “pivotal moment,” she discovered that as much as she loved doing analysis, her bigger passion was making a difference for others and really helping them to be at their best. Adams just kept coming back to the fact that she was starting to do what she loved, with a career in human resources. She didn’t take the promotion with her previous manager – instead she grew more committed to her path in human resources.
“I’ve never looked back,” she says. “That decision has served me so well. When I have decision points in my career around what to do, it’s always staying true to my values and to who I am.”
Adams laughed and said, “You’re never too young to start living with intention. I have my annual personal and professional goals since I was 23, with an assessment of each one! Each year, the goals are in four categories: intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual. “Living and working with intention is a beautiful thing…you never have to worry about living with regret.”
Early in her tenure at Qlik, Adams changed the name of her team from Human Resources to Culture and Talent. She did that because she views her team’s role as “creating an environment where everyone is valued and can be at their best.
Adams wanted to be intentional about how she considers the role of her team at Qlik. Here’s how she sees it: “If we get creating an environment right and hire the right people and develop the right talent, the company has to be successful.”
Renaming the team also sends a very strong message to Qlik’s employees that their development is a priority for the company, says Adams. An intentional benefit of renaming the team has been that Adams finds the entire organization will hold her team accountable for focusing on initiatives that make a difference to employees.
“You’re making a bold statement with renaming the function because expectations are raised,” says Adams. “It creates a two-way communication in a huge way.” ♦
Adams’ daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at a young age. As devastated as she was by the news, Adams was grateful that the condition was something that could be managed by monitoring her daughter’s blood sugar multiple times a day. To do her part to find a cure, she serves on the board of the International Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, where she was a recipient of the “Living and Giving Award.”
Adams also serves on the board of the Make a Wish Foundation, where she’s involved because she feels very grateful that her daughter’s condition can be managed. “We have something in our family that we can deal with. There are so many situations where families may not be as fortunate and participating in “Make-a-Wish” gives me the opportunity to be part of creating an extraordinary, memorable experience for these children,” she says.
“I care a lot about giving back to causes beyond the ones that are personal to our family and try to instill this value with my children. Matter of fact, my daughters and I recently ran in our first mud run in support of cancer research – not only was it a great cause, but the memory of diving into the ice cold mud with my girls will last a lifetime,” says Adams.
Diane's Key Partners:Aspen Worldwide (Executive Search) | The Rupert Group (Organizational Development Consulting) | Compensia (Compensation Consulting) | Square Peg Consulting (Organization & Leadership Development) | Gallup Inc. (Performance Management Consulting) | Corporate Executive Board (HR Consulting) | Jim Hunt & Associates (Leadership Communication Consulting)
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