VP of Happiness

Who: Donna DeGrande Dixon
Company: FutureNext Consulting Inc.
Age: 49
Has held title for: One year
Previous title: VP of organizational development


It’s no joke that new-economy workers are a little nervous these days, and they’re demanding at the same time. Still, at FutureNext, a 500-person e-business consulting firm with offices in 10 cities nationwide, folks can’t help but smile when they hear Donna DeGrande Dixon coming. Based in the Los Gatos, California office, the human-resources honcho has been known to greet people with a hearty “I’ve got sunshiiiine on a cloouudy day ….” Dixon is so enthusiastic that her coworkers have crowned her the company’s VP of Happiness.

C’mon, why are you so damn happy?

I ask people, “What would make you smile inside?” And they tell me what they need to make their jobs better. They tend to be surprised that I asked. It makes employees smile to know that I’m really there to help them. And that makes me smile.

Doesn’t your face get tired?

My job can get a little overwhelming sometimes, because I can’t please everyone all of the time. And people’s job expectations are higher now. Most companies can offer great salaries and benefits. So the difference has to be in the organization’s culture.

Are any other emotions represented at FutureNext?

No other emotions yet. But I did hire a People Person recently!