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Samantha Gadd | 11 July 2021

Big growth, new CEO!

A message from Sam

To our extended whanau (clients, friends and network).

As organisations all over Aotearoa recognise the importance of a compelling employee experience and leading with humanity, we are experiencing huge growth.

In the last 12 months we have grown 40%, and we forecast another 25% in the coming year. This growth means in 2021 we are growing our incredible team, adding 10 new full-time permanent employees and 3 part-time contractors.

Such rapid growth is the dream of any business that’s looking to perform at its very best, but, of course, that growth needs to be nurtured and managed with care so that it continues long term. I’m beyond grateful to have grown a phenomenal team, including a leadership team who have contributed massively to the success of Humankind. Our leadership team includes the strong business leadership of Kalyn Ponti who has worked alongside me since 2017, when she started with us as a consultant before being promoted to Chief Operations Officer 18 months later.

Kalyn has been instrumental in delivering exceptional business performance for Humankind. More recently Kalyn has been responsible for general management, including revenue, strategy, employee experience and profitability, and consistently delivered phenomenal results. Without a doubt, there’s a very obvious connection between Kalyn’s high-performing skills and the ambitious growth of Humankind.

So with great confidence and satisfaction I can now share that it is time for Humankind to transition from being founder-led to promoting and celebrating Kalyn as the new CEO, from August 2021.

The CEO role accurately reflects the incredible breadth of knowledge and passion for growing businesses that Kalyn brings to the team. Kalyn brings extensive experience growing large organisations and a background in business leadership. Before moving to NZ five years ago, she was a Director at Canada’s premium fashion retailer Aritzia, leading their market and expansion throughout central Canada. Specifically, she led the profitability and revenue growth of that market after the GFC, making it the highest performing region for the three consecutive years she was in that role.

Kalyn cares deeply about people (an essential trait in our field of work!), and across every aspect of the business she’s a natural successor for Humankind - from her strong decision-making ability, robust thinking, and rigorous analysis, through to her ability to lift the bar each time.

Here’s a what Kalyn has to say:

“We have a phenomenal team at Humankind. I love this company and our role in unlocking the potential of people, and building a great employee experience. My sweet spot really is people - I deeply believe in the potential of employees as the number one leaver to drive business performance.

The future is really exciting for us as we look to grow Humankind’s capability on a larger scale and work with organisations on more sizable projects to have greater impact. There’s so much room to change work for the better, and that’s hugely exciting.

We’ll also be continuing to build and work with our clients on new and innovative ways to attract and retain employees, and create an unbeatable employee experience in this changing landscape. Most important of all, though, we’re focussed on making sure our clients are receiving the very best from us, and in turn, getting the very best out of their people.”

I truly believe Humankind would not be where it is today without our team, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds with Kalyn’s leadership.

You might be wondering what’s next for me?

A number of you will already have heard of Employee Experience Design School ( which I launched last year. It’s an online programme that helps individuals and organisations learn how to design a workplace culture and experience for their employees’ unique needs and wants.

Organisations are facing a real battle to attract and retain talent, and our goal is to help them take an employee-centred approach to design a compelling employee value proposition and an experience to match. While it’s still early days, we’ve already attracted lots of interest, and we know it has huge potential for impact. I’m looking forward to having the time and space to see where this can go. Watch this space!

While I might be stepping away from the role of CEO I will continue my role as Director, I’m not going to be too far away. It feels immensely satisfying knowing Kalyn and our team will take the company to new heights.

I’m so proud of Humankind. I’m grateful for our incredible team (past and present) and our extended whanau. I can’t thank you, our clients, enough for your support and the relationships our team enjoy every single day.

We really do love what we do.

Samantha Gadd (a very happy and proud founder)

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