Lattice’s CPO on the ‘meta’ experience of leading HR at an HR tech firm

Cara Brennan Allamano discusses what it’s like to work in an HR leadership role at a people-focused company, as well as the evolving role of HR leaders in the C-suite.
article cover


· 4 min read

As chief people officer at Lattice, Cara Brennan Allamano has a unique role not only in overseeing HR operations for the company, but advising colleagues on the best ways to develop products for people pros.

“It’s a very meta experience being in the role and being part of a company that’s building for people in roles like mine,” Brennan Allamano told HR Brew.

The mission of Lattice, an HR tech company currently valued at $3 billion, is to “make work meaningful.” And the people team is invested not only in carrying out this mission, but also in being “our own best use case,” Brennan Allamano said.

Making work better. Brennan Allamano joined Lattice in June 2022 after serving in HR roles at Adobe, Pinterest, and most recently Udemy, a digital learning company that she helped take public.

Brennan Allamano had gotten to know Lattice CEO and co-founder Jack Altman through her work with People Tech Partners, an advisory and investment group that supports founders in the HR space (the group is also an investor in Lattice as of January 2022, when it participated in a Series F funding round that raised $175 million, according to Pitchbook data). When Altman contacted Brennan Allamano about a job as she was finishing up her tenure with Udemy, the timing felt right.

Given most people spend “the vast majority of their time” in their jobs, “I feel very mission-driven in finding ways to make work better for people,” she said. “And pairing that with a technology that I believe helps accomplish that has been really great.”

“Customer zero” for new products. Lattice has rolled out new product lines almost every year since it was first founded in 2015, according to Brennan Allamano. The platform now includes tools for goal-setting, compensation, and employee engagement, as well as a recently launched human resources information system (HRIS).

She and her team typically serve as “customer zero” on products as they’re being developed, Brennan Allamano said. “We have folks that sit adjacent to product and engineering…Before something gets pushed to market, we’re in meetings talking to product managers about the best way to do things from an HR perspective.”

They are currently using the HRIS, for example, which launched in September, for their own work. Much of their feedback has focused on “ease of use” to ensure that all the tech tools HR pros use—from compensation to performance management to employee development—are integrated into one place. In advising Lattice colleagues on other tools, such as the compensation management platform that was launched last year, her team can be helpful in providing information about the regulatory environment, as well as what separates a “good process” from a “great process,” she said. This might mean making a series of small changes that can save HR customers a lot of time in the long run.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.

Lattice’s product and engineering employees rely not only on Brennan Allamano’s team for feedback, but also on external networks such as Resources For Humans, an online community of people leaders, as well as a CPO Council, a cohort of people leaders who share what’s “top of mind for them and what they think that they would need from the latest product.”

The collaborative nature of this HR role makes it unique: “I see it as an extension of what my team wants to do, which is [to] empower HR folks,” Brennan Allamano said.

The evolving role of HR. Just as Brennan Allamano’s career has evolved, so too has the HR industry as a whole. As managing workforces grew more complex with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, investor interest in HR tech grew: The space saw $12 billion in venture capital investment in 2021, triple the rate of investment that occurred the previous year, according to an analysis from Boston Consulting Group and Pitchbook.

Lattice seems to have benefited from this windfall, but the startup hasn’t been immune to macroeconomic challenges either; in January 2023, it laid off 15% of its staff. Brennan Allamano said the company has recently moved into more of a conservative mode, with a focus on efficiency, “so that we are good stewards of the money that we have.”

In convening with people leaders through her work with Lattice and People Tech Partners, Brennan Allamano said she’s learned it’s important for HR not only to come to the table with a business case for what they want to accomplish, but also to foster partnerships with fellow executives.

“It’s not all just about coming up with nice benefit plans and making sure that you know holiday calendars are synced,” she said. “It’s really about, how do you make sure that the entire business is a part of the people agenda?”

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.