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VP People

Human Resources | Alameda, CA | Full Time

Job Description

About Us

Saildrone designs and manufactures wind and solar powered autonomous surface vehicles called Saildrones, which make cost-effective ocean data collection possible at scale. We are busy building the world's largest high-resolution ocean datasets, working with governments and private companies around the globe. We believe that better inputs in planetary models in turn yield better outputs and that the new insights gained in weather forecasting, carbon cycling, global fishing and climate change will have tremendous impact on humanity. We are based in Alameda, CA and are backed by Social Capital, The Capricorn Investment Group, Lux Capital, Horizons Venture and The Schmidt Family Foundation.

About the Role

Reporting to the CFO, the VP of People will assume responsibility for aligning People strategy with forward-looking business goals while continuing to build and maintain a high performance culture with people who are smart, innovative and committed to excellence.  This role encompasses leadership of all strategic and operational Human Resources functions, including talent management (recruiting, employee development and retention, learning, performance management and succession planning), compensation and benefits, and employee relations.  

The VP of Human Resources is responsible for ensuring that Saildrone’s human capital resources are able to deliver on its business objectives.  He/she will need to continually assess the company’s ability to meet its business requirements with the existing talent pool, and build People infrastructure to support company growth while identifying and establishing action plans to get to the next stage of company growth.

The VP of People candidate will be a strong action-oriented leader who has the credibility to partner with the leadership team while building the necessary infrastructure, policies and practices to enhance organizational performance.  Since Saildrone currently uses an outsourced HR PPO, in the near future the VP People will be serving as sole in-house HR representative. Therefore, in addition to leading HR and a small team, this VP will also spend some portion of their time rolling up their sleeves and performing duties for which they will later build a team to handle at scale.  The right leader will be able to build an in-house team as we scale beyond the PPO, grow or change their team as necessary – but most importantly will be a “hands on” leader who can roll up their sleeves and teach by showing and doing rather than just telling the team what to get done. 

The right candidate will be an executive with strong ability to collaborate, think strategically, build systems and teams, and have unquestioned integrity, experience and presence to effectively handle senior level relationships and sensitive People issues. They will have the ability to work confidentially and comfortably in a management team of high achievers and be accustomed to a fast-paced, yet thoughtful, culture and leadership style.  

Key Responsibilities

The People leader’s s responsibilities will  include: 

  • Provide direction, leadership and hands-on execution in the creation and deployment of a centralized People program that supports the company’s strategic and annual operating plan, to include hiring policies, compensation, benefits, performance management and succession planning. 
  • Create and build a recruiting function that leverages internal or external resources to achieve talent acquisition objectives.
  • Develop, standardize and rationalize Saildrone’s job and title architecture, including the company’s compensation and benefits structure to drive internal equity and market competitiveness. Including leveling all jobs to market, establishing job categories, salary bands, and a technical ladder.
  • Create and ensure that performance management programs, supporting systems and processes are in line with the company’s strategy and goals, and drive the annual performance review process along with promotions, pay raises, and performance bonus cycle.
  • Define, develop and implement key professional programs that are meaningful and relevant (e.g., emerging leader programs, or rotational programs for aspiring managers). Drive talent development, succession planning and management programs.
  • Work to define, recommend and implement competitive rewards programs to attract and retain key players in a highly competitive industry.
  • In partnership with the CFO and CLO, develop models for equity compensation, including developing equity bands for initial and refresh grant programs appropriate for various employee groups, including understanding of relevant market trends in equity compensation
  • Serve as an adviser, confidant and coach to the entire leadership team on People issues such as organizational design, leadership development, succession management, performance management, training, human resource policies and talent retention strategies.

Education and Experience

  • BS/BA degree.  Advanced degree in business or related field is desirable
  • 12-15 years of progressively broadening People experience with a number of functional areas, a track record in recruiting, developing and leading an effective and efficient HR organization to surpass their performance objectives.  
  • An People leader with broad experience as a generalist, who is proactive in conceiving, initiating and executing HR programs relevant to the organization’s culture and objectives.
  • Success working in a high growth company with constant change and multi-region locations.
  • Must have experience delivering new initiatives and hiring the right talent to improve efficiency and performance across the company. 
  • Preferable to have worked at both small and large companies with the ability to scale up and down, and recent experience getting hands dirty when needed. 
  • Familiarity with HRIS systems and hands-on use of technology and dashboards for internal reporting are requirements of this role. 
  • Experience with compliance and reporting requirements for government contractor entities is a significant plus. 
  • Familiarity with PPO’s (specifically TriNet) a plus; experience transitioning such services in-house a significant plus. 

Skills & Qualifications

  • Ability to work as a Business Partner with the CEO and the Executive team.  As a strategic thinker must be able contribute to the current agenda and help drive new initiatives, while being able to manage operational issues through their team.
  • Must be a bright individual who clearly combines analytical reasoning, creativity, conceptual ability, empathy and solid judgment.  A quick study, who can handle complex matters with multiple initiatives going on simultaneously. 
  • An outstanding communicator who possesses excellent verbal and written skills as well as the ability to present views in a clear and compelling manner.
  • Unquestionable ethical standards.
  • A natural leader, with a strong presence who has an open and direct communication style who is adaptable, flexible and adjusts to varied personalities and audiences effectively.

This position is located in Alameda, CA. Only candidates with proper permits to work in the United States can be considered. 


  • Medical, dental and vision plans for you and your dependents
  • Active sailing classes: become a certified skipper on boats up to 35ft!
  • Short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building for SF residents
  • Enhanced paternity / maternity programs
  • Competitive benefits including discounted gym, life insurance, 401k plan

This is an exciting new opportunity to drive your function at a fast-growing post series-B startup at the cutting-edge intersection of big data services and autonomous hardware. You will be an integral part of an A+ multi-disciplinary team scaling a high-performance business while delivering high impact for humanity and future generations.

Our waterfront office offers beautiful views over San Francisco Bay in always sunny Alameda. Your commute could be a short and relaxing ferry ride from the Ferry Building. Even our walls have good karma, our offices mixing software development with a hardware production line in the former airplane hangar that was once used to film 'The Matrix'.

You can read what the press says about us:

NOAA: NOAA ramps up use of drones to collect fish, seafloor and weather data

Bloomberg: Saildrone’s Journey Around Antarctica Uncovers New Climate Clues

WLOX: First study of 3-D seabed imagery in Gulf by remote drone celebrated

Forbes: The Real Cloud Wars: The $6 Billion Battle Over The Future Of Weather Forecasting

Or watch the Saildrone mission being presented the TED stage

Saildrone is an equal opportunity workplace dedicated to pursuing and hiring a diverse workforce.

Any unsolicited resumes/candidate profiles submitted through our website or to personal email accounts of employees of Saildrone are considered property of Saildrone and are not subject to payment of agency fees.