Agile HR + Talent Leadership + Technology

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Agile HR + Talent Leadership + Technology

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Agile HR + Talent Leadership + Technology

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Andreessen Horowitz’s Shannon Callahan: Don’t Demand Credibility; Work For It.

Shannon Callahan came out to San Francisco last week to talk to us about HR pitfalls, future challenges, and best recruiting practices that have worked.


Shannon Callahan

“Successful HR Professionals must push themselves to understand the business,” says Shannon, who is the Human Resources and Talent Acquisition partner at Andreessen Horowitz. For some of you who’ve been living under a rock, Andreessen Horowitz is a venture capital firm with about $2.5 billion under management. A few companies they’ve invested in (that you may have heard of) include Instagram, Pinterest, Jawbone, Okta, GitHub, and Skype. Here’s a longer list.

Claudia Fry, HR 2.0’s co-founder had a fireside chat with Shannon in San Francisco’s Runway incubator. There were over 100 folks, mostly HR Pros, waiting to hear Shannon spill the beans on where HR is headed.

Here are the takeaways from the Q&A:

  • “Successful HR leaders go vertical in one of the functions. Find one area that you’re passionate about and learn it well. And then hire people around you that know the different functions well.”
  • “Successful HR Professionals must push themselves to understand business. They’re open and good communicators. They’re business people.  And have to be able to multitask.”
  • “Modern HR departments are holistic HR departments. There’s a common goal in HR and that’s to focus on the employee life cycle. The CEO must take the employee life cycle seriously.”
  • “HR heads need to have a good relationship with the CEO but it shouldn’t matter whom you report to. You have to work and believe that you have enough credibility in the business to impact the business.”
  • “We need new technology in HR, and new thought leaders. Everything needs to move to mobile.”
  • “Every person you’re talking to has had a terrible interactions with HR. Like, transparency is important. But not that long ago everything was on lock down. And they scared people with that power [in being obscure]. It’s how you communicate plans going forward.”
  • “HR doesn’t own culture. Culture is driven by the CEO and other Executives in the company. HR is the QA for culture.”
  • “Any time a company experiences people growth, they need to get a real gut check. Bring on a recruiter, and start thinking about the HR function. What are the few things you liked when you were ten employees that you don’t see any more? How much time do you spend recruiting? Many startups don’t sometimes understand the value add and freak out for their first termination.”
  • “Self and Management assessment is very important in that Managers need to know what their employees need from them so that they’re much more successful.”

Her recruiting practices? She asks for three things from the Hiring Manager before any recruiting begins at all.

1. The job description.

2. The job description with corresponding questions.

3. A 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day onboarding plan.

This way the employee feels that they’re part of the company from day one, that their manager cared enough about their growth prior to coming on the first day, and that they have objectives and expectations to meet.


A little background on Shannon: Previously, she was a director of Human Resources at Hewlett-Packard and joined Opsware in 1999 as a recruiter to run Human Resources for the company prior to its acquisition by HP for $1.6 billion. Her HR experience started in corporate staffing operations and then to technical recruiting. After recruiting for four years, she then moved towards an HR Generalist. Her role has transformed into managing the entire HR function with more specific work on the generalist side. Shannon gets to talk with and advises newly funded companies on their HR function, plans for recruiting, culture and much more. She’s truly fascinating!





  1. Avatar of Jeff
    wrote on September 24th, 2013 at 2:48 pm


    I’m so glad to see that others are recognizing just how much the huge overhead burden and focus on process has buried HR through CYA orgs like SHRM. This is such a breath of fresh air and I can only hope that those new to HR will learn to work as a business (and personal) driver.

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