Waymo names Ex-Netflix, Cruise Automation executive as chief people officer

Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet, has hired former Netflix and Cruise Automation executive Tawni Nazario-Cranz as its chief people officer.

Nazario-Cranz will be responsible for hiring workers, shaping the company’s culture, and diversity initiatives. She will report directly to Waymo CEO John Krafick. The executive comes with a long background in human resources, including a 10-year stint at Netflix, Bausch & Lomb and FedEd Kinko’s. She was most recently Cruise, GM’s self-driving unit, a position she held for eight months before leaving in April, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Nazario-Cranz’s hiring comes at an auspicious time for Waymo, which is poised to launch its first driverless service later this year. Waymo is already shuttling a group of approved “early riders” in self-driving vehicles without a human test driver behind the wheel in the Phoenix area. The company has also expanding partnerships with automakers. In May, Waymo said it would order up to 62,000 self-driving minivans from Fiat Chrysler for its driverless ride-hailing service.

Waymo has also formed a strategic partnership with Jaguar Land Rover with plans to make the new electric I-Pace part of Waymo’s driverless fleet beginning in 2020.

The burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry, which has exploded in the past two years, requires people with specific and highly sought after skills. The limited pool of talent has made recruitment and retention of skilled workers a highly competitive process.

And while salary, benefits, and perks can lure new talent, it’s a company’s culture that often keeps them there. Nazario-Cranz has experience here, including co-authoring Netflix’s first culture document, which Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said “may well be the most important document ever to come out of the Valley.”

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