Michelle Delcambre

Michelle Delcambre

Operating Partner, Head of People & Talent

Companies are nothing more than the sum output of their employees.

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Michelle is an Operating Partner at Felicis and leads Talent and People initiatives. With over a decade of experience in high-growth companies, Michelle advises and assists companies across Felicis' portfolio on their People and Talent practices. Before joining Felicis, Michelle led Talent and People Operations for several successful tech companies (Atlassian, Databricks, Okta, and Stripe), building and scaling hiring practices, People strategy, and People technology solutions. Michelle has seen various stages of scale, from scaling Atlassian as their first US-based recruiting leader from a few dozen to several hundred employees, growing Okta from 500 to 2000 through their IPO, to helping Stripe operationalize their People and Recruiting functions as they scaled from under 2,000 to over 5,000 employees. Michelle is a native of Louisiana, attended Michigan State University, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two sons.

Companies are nothing more than the sum output of their employees.

How do you support founders?

If I distill it down, my role is simply to help founders excel. I’ve worked with several great founder/CEOs and focus on: 1) Managing their time, 2) Maintaining a strong executive bench, and 3) Building culture through vision and motivation. My role is to help founder/CEOs recognize opportunities to excel in these ways.

Early-stage companies should focus primarily on product market fit and hiring the best people. I help early-stage founders tap into our network and understand who to hire and how to assess fit. At some point, you’ve established your product market fit and then it’s time to get to the work of building a generational company—and that’s when I can help founders recognize how to move beyond product to defining the operating rhythms and culture that increase their chances of success in the long term.

If you could teach founders one lesson on building an outlier company, what would it be?

I say this a lot, but companies are nothing more than the sum output of their employees. Every founder focuses on the product and then go-to-market strategy. Companies in the center of the Venn diagram of strong product-market fit, successful go-to-market strategy, and a culture that is both a talent magnet and resources employees to do their best work will be the next generation of outliers. A strategic People function is your undervalued best friend here.

What capabilities do modern People teams need?

At the base level, stronger business acumen is critical for the new breed of HR leaders. When high-growth companies keep an eye on things like burn multiple, a CHRO is a great partner to ensure hiring and employee costs and performance are where they need to be to build a thoughtful business. Yet this often gets overlooked, and HR becomes a “feelings function” vs. a critical business partner.

People Analytics is also more necessary than ever to measure and predict the performance of your employees. It’s less backward-looking now. We’re moving into an era of performance.  People call it efficiency, but I view it as performance—and that partially means prioritizing the practical business of running a company alongside building a great product and commercializing.

In a distributed world—an employee experience role is critical. Someone who maps the employee journey and intentionally defines what it should look and feel like—similar to what is often done for customers. People Operations roles should evolve to be a better connector between broader company operations and how information gets distributed to teams, as well as how performance ties back to that.  

Michelle (center), with Viv Faga (left) and Cristóbal Valenzuela (right).

If you wrote a book, what would it be about?

I think I’d want to interview CFOs and CHROs to talk about how strong partnerships between these two functions drive business results! The dynamic between these two functions, when highly collaborative, leads to a lot of efficiencies and a positive impact on the culture of an organization.  

What’s a lesson you want to impart to your children?

If my children maintain their curiosity, then I will have succeeded as a parent. Curiosity opens doors, improves self-awareness, creates learning opportunities, allows for deeper relationships, enables empathy, and opens our eyes to things that don’t seem possible. Nothing makes me happier than when my kids ask “why?” or challenge something that seems certain.