Transform Awards Winner Spotlight: Lybra Clemons

Welcome to the Transform Awards Winner Spotlight Series, celebrating innovation and leadership in reshaping industries and workplaces globally. These awards commend both individuals and companies who are at the forefront of transformation, setting new standards and challenging the status quo. Recognized for their people-centric and visionary approaches, our awardees are the global changemakers pioneering advancements in business, entrepreneurship, and beyond. This series shines a light on their achievements and the impactful ways they’re moving the world of work forward.

About Transform 10 Award

The Transform 10 recognizes the ten most inspirational executive leaders who are leading transformation across their areas of influence and moving the world of work forward. These are the people-centric, global changemakers challenging the status quo through business, venture, or entrepreneurial leadership.

About Transform 10 Award Winner: Lybra S. Clemons

Lybra S. Clemons is a seasoned C-Suite executive with 20 years of Human Resources, Talent, Culture, and DEI experience across Fortune 500 companies. She has created, built, and implemented practical strategies that have resulted in stronger retention of top talent and higher workforce engagement. Lybra has held key HR, Talent, and DEI roles at Twilio, PayPal, Morgan Stanley, The Brunswick Group, and American Express. Her sweet spot is in driving people strategy, managing talent and retention, and evolving the workplace culture.   

Lybra holds a B.A. from Spelman College, an MPA from Columbia University, and an Executive Management degree from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. 

Leadership and Influence

Q: What journey led you to your current leadership role? 

A: My career has been a bit of a meandering journey of life choices, ultimately resulting in career choices. I’ve been very lucky to have had a choice, and to be able to navigate through life without the lens of fear. So – with that – stumbling into a lesser-known and understood career in DEI 20 years ago (we didn’t call it that then) was just the beginning. I was able to continue my journey through DEI and HR at several fantastic companies – all the while responding to world events such as Sept. 11th, the crash of the market, Obama’s presidency, and then Trump’s. Each of these external market situations created challenging, sometimes rewarding, and unstable opportunities in each role I have had. However, I continued to push through, reach higher, reinvent, and not be driven by fear. I think that allows me to be such a strong force and valuable executive.  

Q: What challenges have you faced while driving transformation within your area of influence?

A: As a black female executive, I wake up to challenges – not just towards me, but also being fully responsible for the support, safety, and equitable experiences of marginalized people. Whether you are in a diversity role or an operator role, if you are a woman or from a marginalized group in an executive role, you somehow become fully responsible for all of the other marginalized groups.  It can be a challenge and also compromise your growth, development, and overall work.  

Other challenges include trying to reinvent people/hr policies and practices because not everyone is open to change. So – working closely with those who are resistant is key. I’ve also found managing certain personalities to be quite challenging.

Q: What is an example that gives insight into your leadership style and its impact?

I LOVE the concept of the corporate athlete because I lead a pretty disciplined holistic lifestyle, which also impacts how I show up at work and how I lead. I’m not a sports fanatic, and I grew up being extremely active, but I love the corporate athlete model. To me, it is all about who you are inside, what motivates you, and how you show up for your team – just like an athlete.

Vision and Impact

Q: What motivates you to challenge the status quo and lead transformation?

A: I know what it’s like when policies, practices, rituals, and behaviors are created without you in mind. So I’m forever motivated to do what I can to shift and transform a workplace, culture, and lifestyle/behaviors towards equity.

Q: Can you share a significant change or innovation you’ve spearheaded in your current role?

A: Every single initiative I’ve owned for the past few roles has resulted in significant change; and not immediately, but ultimately – which has great impact. But most recently, I was responsible for setting the industry standard by radically shifting DEI efforts away from focusing on representation and hiring to scrutinizing systems that create inequities to enable high attrition and low engagement of great talent. In addition, I was responsible for driving such a great innovative, and strong culture through the pandemic, becoming a remote-first company, and shifting and changing during an economic downturn.

Strategies for Change

Q: How do you foster a culture of innovation and change within your team or organization?

A: I have worked in so many companies that struggle to connect with what employees need and require – especially during very specific times in their lives and careers. Some companies bring a very straightforward and stale approach to their culture – which has not and won’t change for years. Other companies lean too far to the left by trying to be everything to everyone.  I’m a change agent, but also very practical and clear. The practicality and years of experience working in different cultures allow me to stay focused on what is possible and the impossible.  It’s an art and a science.

I live for innovation, I’m not afraid of change, and my sweet spot is in transformation – so I lead with that. The culture of my team and organization is built off of change – within reason and practicality.

Q: What lessons have you learned about leadership in times of transformation?

A: Not everyone is equipped or even has the skillset or strength to withstand change and transformation.  They think they do, but they don’t.  And the ones that struggle with it the most find it threatening to their work.

Engagement and Influence

Q: In which ways do you engage with and inspire others in your industry or beyond to embrace change?

A: By being a thought leader in the space. While I don’t LOVE the idea of participating in panels (always too many people, and doesn’t always allow for strong points to get across when have so many thought leaders), I do try to respond to as many people in the space as I can. I was super lucky to have encountered so many experienced professionals when I was growing my career who took the time and energy to listen and mentor me. I owe each person who invested in me a huge thank you because I know that I would not be here for them if they didn’t listen or give me a chance.

I’m also very honest (diplomatic) and unafraid to share my vulnerabilities with others, and I think that allows people to see a different side, build trust, and feel inspired to also share their stories, mistakes, passions, etc.

Q: Can you describe a moment when you realized the true impact of your work?

A: I’ve been in the DEI space for so long, and I have not only seen the evolution of DEI and HR, but I have been part of that evolution. What we are talking about today in terms of Culture, People, and DEI is clearly part of the work that many – like myself – have contributed to over the years.

Looking Forward

Q: What future trends do you believe will further transform your industry or the world of work in general?

A: Risk-taking, being date-informed vs. data-driven in order to make decisions, redefining the workplace beyond what we saw years ago – which includes reimagining how, when, and where great talent works. I see companies allowing their employees to choose their own adventure as a way to promote loyalty and efficient work products.

Q: What’s next on your agenda for driving change and innovation?

A: Above

Personal Reflections

Q: How do you balance the demands of leading transformation with personal well-being?

A: I’ve always balanced. It is never a trade-off, and I’m unapologetic about it.  

Q: What is one piece of advice you would offer to future leaders aiming to make a difference?

A: No fear. Be diplomatic, but don’t be afraid to try something new and different. If it works, AMAZING, if it doesn’t, somehow you made an impact. 

Q: How do you create work-life balance in your own life?

A: Prioritization.

Check out our other Transform Spotlights on the blog to learn more about our Global Ambassadors,People-First Leaders, Authors, Award Winners, and more!

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