DisruptHR Chicago: Interview with Dorie Blesoff

dorieDorie Blesoff is the Chief People Officer at kCura, developers of the market leading e-discovery software Relativity. Based in Chicago with an increasingly global presence, kCura has seen rapid growth during Dorie’s tenure and continues to exhibit a dynamic and sustainable culture while demonstrating excellent business results. The people vision of kCura is a “happy, healthy & engaged workplace community,” reflected in innovative initiatives such as monthly performance coaching, the emergence of kCura Women of the Workplace (kWOW), self-organizing learning efforts like “kDisco” in Engineering, and fun stuff like microbrew-offs and intense team contests at Halloween. Committed to the principles of a growth mindset, Dorie serves as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education & Social Policy in the Learning & Organizational Change degree programs — a role for which she received the Outstanding Professor award in 2008. She’s also a singer/songwriter, urban farmer, and felting artist.

With a little over 2 weeks until DisruptHR Chicago, Dorie shared with us a little about herself, her company and her involvement with this amazing event.

Editor: Tell us about yourself – your career history and how to came to be in your current role.

Dorie: This is the fourth lap on my career track. I’ve always been working in a people-related field, strategic HR or OD, and in a range of industries (healthcare, manufacturing, professional services) both internally and externally in my own independent consulting practice before I came to kCura. I’ve also served as adjunct faculty at the Northwestern University’s BA and MS degree programs in Learning & Organizational Change. Starting five years ago, I consulted with kCura for two years helping them set up their learning and development program, and management development in particular, at which point the CEO asked me to join the team as Chief People Officer. He said he wanted to do three things and he needed my help: continue to develop a product customers love and depend on, continue to be a place the team members want to be every day, and give back to our communities with a focus on under-resourced students by investing in technology to help “level the playing field.” How could I say no? That was three years ago and wow, what a great ride.

Editor: What does your company do?

Dorie: kCura is a tech company that develops the software called Relativity. Relativity is the most widely adopted e-discovery platform, used by 198 of the Am Law 200, 74 of the Fortune 100, and many U.S. government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, to manage electronic evidence in litigation, investigations, and beyond.

Our vision is to simplify and accelerate how the world conducts e-discovery by bringing the entire process and community even closer together in one open, flexible, and connected platform. Simplifying e-discovery means that our users are able to organize their data efficiently, discover important information, and act on it.

kCura is one of the fastest growing tech companies in the U.S. Today. We employ approximately 600 driven and talented team members in the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Australia, and Hong Kong.

Editor: Any upcoming product launches or initiatives you’d like to highlight to our audience?

Dorie: The week before Disrupt HR, kCura will be hosting its annual user conference Relativity Fest that will take place in Chicago on October 9-11, 2016. It is one of the most anticipated events in the legal tech industry. This year we expect more than 1,700 attendees. The conference is designed to educate and connects the e-discovery community through engaging panel discussions, hands-on labs, breakout sessions, and more.

Editor: What does an average work week look like for you?

Dorie: I participate in leadership meetings with my senior leader peers looking at priorities and plans. I participate in project meetings with our awesome HR team here, including verticals of Talent Acquisition, HR Services, HR Partners, Learning & Development – all focused on team member experience from end-to-end and ensuring we are a happy, healthy & engaged workplace community. I attend weekly leadership meetings, check up on whatever priority we are implementing, have one-on-one’s with my direct reports, check in with our larger HR team and kCurians by walking around and via email, and I TRY to reflect and think!

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Editor: What made you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR Chicago?

Dorie: Sounded like fun! I like a challenge and I love the chance to hang out with other HR folks who are looking at new trends and new solutions. The workforce world is evolving quickly and the opportunity to establish a community that makes the world a better place is an exciting and significant one – so if folks are talking about that, I’m there. At heart, I am most passionate about both learning and change, and at my best I practice a “growth mindset.” Especially during this time of “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) we need to be very open to co-creating with our internal customers and welcoming the emergence of new and unexpected solutions.

Editor: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR Chicago?

Dorie: I’m tackling the topic of People Analytics and how HR professionals can benefit from growing capability in this area. The title is “People Analytics: from fear to fun (well, almost). There is often an inherent bias against quantitative data in the people arena, and it’s time to get over it and learn ways to utilize analytics to understand what is going on with our teams and our leaders and focus our efforts. It really can be fun and I’ll try to illustrate the mindset shift and some practical benefits.

Editor: What are the major learnings that attendees will take from your session?

Dorie: How to become more self-aware about internal bias against analytics. The stages of competency we go through in getting to where we are adept at using it as a decision-making tool. Samples of discoveries and lessons learned through data.

Editor: You only have 5 minutes to present at DisruptHR Chicago. What unique challenges and opportunities does this format offer?

Dorie: I love the Mark Twain saying “I didn’t have time to write a short letter.” It takes clarity of thought and intention to articulate your very best ideas in order to come up with a 5-minute presentation. We don’t always start there when we are on a topic that has a lot of content to it? In fact, I tend to ramble when I’m excited about a topic. One of our kCura Core Values is to be an excellent communicator, and this format provides an opportunity to hone and focus in an enjoyable and energizing way.

Editor: Why does Chicago need an event like DisruptHR?

Dorie: I learned about the organization once I was contacted about speaking. I’ve now had a chance to review some of the videos of prior presentations and to have discussions with several of the founders. I think it is meeting a need to open up dialogue and invite innovative thinking that the HR field can find value in. It’s fun to be among peers who have a spirit of experimentation and learning rather than performing and positioning. From the YouTubes, I’ve seen I think I’ll be in good company.

Editor: Are you attending/speaking at any other HR-related events in the next 6-12 months? If so which ones and why.

Dorie: I just returned from participating in an HCI Conference in Boston where I had the opportunity to present kCura’s newest process of ongoing performance coaching. I will be speaking at the Chicago SHRM Executive Insights Series on November 17th sharing how our kCura Gives program increases engagement while serving to close the tech gap among under-resourced schools and organizations for youth. We are often asked to participate in local tech or start-up panels sharing how we’ve grown from start-up to mid sized. kCura’s culture was founded on a strong set of core values that have now been embedded into the selection, performance management, and learning and development processes as a way of sustaining a healthy culture during rapid growth. We are passionate about supporting Chicago tech scene and we love to share our story.


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