Vice President, People Operations

Upward Farms Brooklyn , NY 11216

Posted 2 weeks ago

Upward Farms designs and operates complete ecosystems of plants and fish in vertical farms, supplying these organic products to local grocers. In 2021, we opened a new company Headquarters and cutting-edge, fully automated production facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In 2022, we announced that we are constructing the worlds largest vertical farm, a 250,000 sqft facility in Northeast Pennsylvania, opening in 2023. More and larger farms are in the works. Our mission is to heal the broken food system and reconnect eaters with flavorful and nutritious local food.

In this role, you will lead the People Operations function, run strategic People Operations initiatives company-wide, and report to the Chief of Staff. You will interface closely with the Executive Team, particularly the CEO, CTO, CFO, General Counsel, VP of Marketing and Sales, VP of Operations, as well as with other leaders from across the organization. You will have multiple functional leaders and subject matter experts within People Operations reporting to you, and you will guide the ongoing evolution of our People Operations and team as we expand across additional sites and geographies (both in terms of new locations as well as scaling our hybrid team). Your areas of leadership and contribution will include organizational design, evolution, and change management; talent acquisition, management, and leadership development; internal operations and communications; employee relations; compensation and benefits; HR compliance; and continuing to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive team and culture where employees thrive.


Your objective is to deliver excellence across all People Operations activities, developing and executing robust People Operations strategies and tactics that support a joyful, productive, and purposeful work experience and ensure the effective management of the growing Upward Farms workforce. Of particular importance to Upward Farms will be your ability to facilitate an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness, where employees thrive we see this as a particularly exciting challenge given the functional diversity of our workforce as a company that is a fast growing consumer goods brand, a venture-backed technology company, and a large scale manufacturer.

We tripled headcount in 2021 and are on track to grow at a similar breakneck pace in 2022 and beyond. During this period of extraordinary growth, the People Team is a critical and still developing group within our organization.

Success in this role will mean developing and communicating plans, strategies, and outcomes for People Operations and Upward Farms; growing a People Operations team to support aggressive growth targets; and developing internal structures to ensure all Upward Farms team members are supported in their jobs and mission. You will help to develop the metrics (specifically, OKRs Objectives and Key Results) by which to measure your individual success and that of the People Operations team. The ultimate responsibilities and contributions of this person will be shaped around the individual we hire and their background. There is tremendous room for growth at our company.


Strategy and Leadership

  • Manage People Operations Team by setting expectations for individual performance and recommending changes to People Operations processes and practices.
  • Inspire direct reports by providing mentorship and guidance to achieve key metrics and goals.
  • Establish Strategic and Tactical Objectives and determine appropriate Key Results metrics, success criteria, and methods to evaluate ongoing success of the People Team and its initiatives.
  • Bring to bear appropriate market context and industry trends to advance our work; identify and engage with external experts and partners as needed to ensure that Upward Farms people initiatives are best-in-class.
  • Partner closely with other senior management positions to create strategic plans and objectives around People Operations; has overall responsibility to deliver on commercial and financial objectives and goals.

Compliance and Operations

  • Develop and implement scalable People Operations processes, programs, and tools that balance employee experience with compliance and legal requirements.
  • Gather and analyze data to develop key strategies that support Upward Farms vision within compliance.
  • Partner with our General Counsel to identify legal requirements and ensure that Upward Farms policies, procedures, and reporting are in compliance with local, state, and federal laws.
  • Work cross-functionally to implement and manage Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) that balances the nimble entrepreneurial culture of Upward Farms with structure needed to succeed through a period of exponential growth.

Recruiting and Employee Engagement

  • Directs and controls Employee Engagement and Talent strategies by collaborating with key business stakeholders to develop timely and relevant programs and projects.
  • Manage the Upward Farms employer brand to keep employees connected to the company, mission, and brand.
  • Advise leaders and hiring managers across the company on hiring plans, including seeing around corners and mitigating issues / gaps before they arise. Given the current pace of hiring and headcount growth, foresight is essential to success.
  • Design new and evolve current people programs to assess and enhance employee engagement, recognition, and satisfaction, leveraging quantitative and qualitative data for continuous improvement.
  • Develop and lead the employee performance management and development process to support a culture of feedback, learning, and growth.


  • 7+ years of experience in a Human Resources or People Operations leadership role at a high-growth and rapidly changing organization.
  • HR or People Operations experience for both production (e.g. manufacturing, foodservice, agriculture, or other hands on roles) and non-production (e.g. technology, engineering, marketing, sales, other G&A) roles.
  • Experience partnering with subject matter experts on OSHA or other Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) requirements.
  • Deep understanding of all aspects of human resources, including but not limited to recruiting, employee relations, People Operations, benefits, immigration, US employment law, compensation and compliance.
  • A passion for all things People and a proven ability to independently conceptualize and drive large-scale change at both the executive level and across an entire organization.
  • Excellent communication, critical listening, and mediation skills. A demonstrable ability to engage individuals across all levels of an organization. Must maintain the highest level of confidentiality.
  • Adaptable and driven, with the ability to work simultaneously on multiple priorities.
  • Mastery of HRIS platforms and fluency with modern workplace technology, including Slack, Zoom, G-suite, etc.
  • A fierce love for sustainable, healthy food.
  • Experience researching and exploring partnerships with external consultant agencies to evolve current processes for People Operations.

Preferred Skills + Experience

  • Have worked in a larger, highly scaled organization.
  • Experience navigating workforce building in regions or industries with strong union presence. Upward Farms is 100% non-union today, however we recognize the importance of having experience navigating union-related questions as we grow our manufacturing presence.
  • Proven success scaling technically skilled teams across the United States.


We offer a dynamic work environment and benefits that include:

  • Equity participation to align individual and company long-term value creation.
  • Aetna Medical, Aetna and MetLife Dental, and Aetna Vision insurance; FSA/HSA plans; and HIPAA-compliant health advocates. Upward Farms contributes 80-95% of the premium for Medical benefits for employees and their families.
  • Up to 10 days paid sick leave. For extended illness, we offer disability leave.
  • Up to 20 days paid time off per year, depending on experience, in addition to paid holidays.
  • For new parents, an extension of New York States paid family leave for up to 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave. This leave is in addition to Disability leave available to pregnant and postpartum mothers.
  • 401(k)
  • Commuter benefits, discounted gym memberships, and other perks.
  • Fresh salad, and lots of it!

Working Here

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. Our needs are unique and varied so we value colleagues with diverse backgrounds. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and/or protected veteran status.

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Vice President, People Operations

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