Kathryn Dekas

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photo of Kathryn DekasPeople Analytics Manager, Google

Breaking into Analytics

Dekas combined a lifelong interest in math with a background in psychology when she got her Ph.D. in business administration with a focus on organizational behavior. She landed at Google as it was ramping up one of the most extensive “people analytics” programs in existence.

“I feel incredibly fortunate I happened to be studying this topic at a time it’s ripe for exploration,” she says.

Schooled on New Tools

Before Google, Dekas worked as a consultant for Accenture and at chipmaker Qualcomm. A mentor encouraged her to go back to school to learn data analytics. It “helped me understand the tools—research design and statistics—that weren’t being fully utilized in HR,” she says. In addition to advanced statistics, she read a lot of the research about HR’s biggest challenges.

Business Benefits

Dekas now leads a team that looks at how employee happiness relates to business issues and processes, such as retention.

She also oversees an initiative that examines what behaviors distinguish top managers from struggling ones. Today, Google trains its managers on eight qualities identified by its internal research, such as being a good coach, not micromanaging and setting clear goals.

“Our biggest mission is to make sure all decisions about people are informed by rigorous data, science and analysis,” she says. “We want to make sure HR is doing its business in just as rigorous a way as any other area of the company.”

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