Canva’s top HR executive reveals ways to link people to business strategy

Organizations today are increasingly seeking strategic ways to align their people objectives with their business goals, work that is especially resonant for Canva Global Head of People Jennie Rogerson.

Rogerson has both operations and people experience under her belt, which she says has given her strategic insight into the way people can be linked to the business strategy at the fast-growing graphic design platform company based in Australia, which went from 800 employees in three countries when she joined the organization in December 2019 to 3,600 employees in eight countries today. 

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Prior to joining Canva in a leadership operations role to assist the organization’s CEO and COO, Rogerson had five years of experience as an operations manager at the national park Fort Denison and then later at the food ordering app Hey You App. In her experiences as an operations manager, Rogerson focused on ensuring employees were supported and empowering them to work as effectively as possible, noting the care given to employees helped prepare her for an HR role.

With that operations experience in her toolkit, she joined Canva in what would be a crucial time for the company and the world, as the pandemic hit in the subsequent months, putting its growing global workforce into lockdown mode.

Canva's top HR executive on linking people to business strategy
Jennie Rogerson

“We sent our team to work from home and really rallied around what that meant,” Rogerson recalls. “We did quite a few listening tours with our team and, while that sounds very easy to do, we were scrambling to try to build up our operations, listen to the team and work out what was going to work best for our team. It was a wild time—and we were also trying to calm everyone down.”

Those efforts enabled her to work closely with Canva’s HR team, which led to pivoting her operations career to HR in November 2021, as the company rapidly scaled its operations.

She recently spoke to HRE about why she made the switch to HR, lessons learned and what HR leaders need to do to link their people operations to business strategy

Dawn Kawamoto, Human Resource Executive
Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto is HR Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist who has covered technology business news for such publications as CNET and has covered the HR and careers industry for such organizations as Dice and Built In prior to joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected] and below on social media.