DC Startup Week 2020 DC Startup Week 2020
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Mind the Gap: Avoid Common Pitfalls of Startup Culture

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Cristyn Girolami
Upside Business Travel, Chief People Officer

During her 17-year career, Cristyn has been an HR leader in people operations and business management. Her focus at Upside is on recruiting, training, and retaining top talent and managing performance for optimal results.

Prior to joining Upside, Cristyn held the role of Chief of Staff at Walker Innovation, a public innovation company, and led the Human Resource function for online technology retailer Bluefly. As VP of HR at Bluefly, Cristyn worked closely with the CEO and management team to craft their overall people strategy. She focused on recruiting, talent management, culture, compensation & benefits, and employee relations.

Prior to Bluefly, Cristyn held the role of Director of HR for Victorinox Swiss Army, overseeing Human Resources for several divisions across the company. She also led the HR function for luxury bath retailer Waterworks, which included the corporate office and 40 retail stores across the country. Cristyn also worked for sports and entertainment organizations, such as the NY Giants and Madison Square Garden.

Cristyn has an MA in Psychology and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor.

LaRae Holliday
EVERFI, Global Head of Talent
Lars Schmidt
Amplify, Founder

Lars is the Founder of Amplify. He’s spent 20 years in HR and recruiting building talent strategies for a broad range of companies and industries. He’s the author of Redefining HR (Kogan Page, Jan 2021) and a writer with regular columns covering modern HR in Fast Company and Forbes, co-author of Employer Branding for Dummies (Wiley, 2017), global speaker, and Host of the Redefining HR podcast. You can find him on Twitter at @Lars.

Mike Kohn
Marts & Lundy, Inc., Chief People Officer

People + HR executive who is passionate about building people-first organizations through the development ofhealthy cultures, leadership, engagement, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Experience scaling organizations inthe tech start-up, professional services, higher education, and design spaces.

Amira El-Gawly
Manifesta and St. Plant, Founder + CEO

Amira El-Gawly is an entrepreneur, coach and writer with over 15 years

guiding executives and brands to design elevated and impactful experiences,

both internal and external, that are authentically aligned to their company's

mission and values. El-Gawly is the founder and CEO of Manifesta, a

leadership and workplace culture consultancy with a focus on team

alignment, wellbeing and performance. She speaks and coaches on a number

of topics, and is most known for her strategies on strengths-based leadership

and compassion at work. El-Gawly is also the founder of St. Plant, a business

designed to reconnect humans with nature through meaningful products and

experiences. Her favorite plant’s name is Dolly.


Building a healthy startup culture is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Too many leaders start businesses for the love of the work, but without an understanding of how to lead and manage people, let alone cultivate a positive, growth-oriented environment. In this speed storytelling session, seasoned HR execs who will share their own mistakes and aha moments so you can set yourself up for success.

  • Hear real stories from successful HR leaders
  • Plan your HR strategy from a position of strength
  • Learn how to spot red flags on your team before they become existential crises