Transforming Company Culture

Khalilah Olokunola on founding Re-Engineering HR


KHALILAH OLOKUNOLA is the founder of Re-Engineering HR, helping companies improve processes and solve problems that are related to their most important asset – people.

Companies who want a wellness check on their organization or present a specific people challenge can utilize Re-Engineering’s proprietary process that shapes solutions using data. Olokunola also delivers hiring practices for overlooked, underestimated, and underserved talent through strategies and specialty training leading to cultural transformation.

“We turn your employees into workplace heroes and your organization into a place where they want to wear their capes. As people whisperers and problem solvers, Re-Engineering HR uses a unique combination of data-driven processes, industrial and organizational psychology, technology, and lots of heart to develop radical but tailored solutions that align your people with your organizational goals. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. You can just Re-Engineer it,” she explained.

Olokunola was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, a city that made a lasting impression on her life. “The diversity had the most impact. Everyone was open to connecting across cultures. Some of my best moments of discovery and growth came from individuals who looked, thought, and lived differently than I did,” she says.

The ability to thrive in the face of adversity also played a critical role in shaping Olokunola’s journey. “I watched the second plane hit the twin towers on 9/11. I experienced New Yorkers band together to overcome profound loss and emerge stronger than ever. I watched the man I was dating come looking for me for hours. I knew I would marry him,” she says.

Olokunola credits her parents with her interest in the business world. “My parents took me to work with them on Wall Street. The biz bug bit me. Those experiences left me super eager to learn more,” she says.

College, as she describes it, was “all over the place.” When her dream of becoming a forensic scientist didn’t work out as expected, Olokunola took a break for a few years before attending Borough of Manhattan Community College. After relocating to North Carolina, Olokunola pursued further education at the University of North Carolina at Pembrook followed by doctorate work in industrial and organizational psychology and divinity. Olokunola firmly believes that education comes in many forms and that life experience can be just as valuable as classroom lessons.

Olokunola describes herself as an “accidental HR professional.” She found purpose in her work and fell head-over-heels for HR working first as a contractor for TRU Colors in Wilmington, eventually becoming Chief People Officer (CPO) before it closed in 2022. TRU hired second chance hires, active, and rival gang members, with a mission to unite communities and decrease violence.

“As CPO I had very few traditional HR responsibilities. I focused on developing a non-traditional people strategy in support of the overall business plan and strategic direction of the organization,” she says.

Olokunola quietly started working on her HR business last November. “I officially went live out loud, making the announcement in March,” she says. She is still doing some of the work that TRU did, just in reverse using technology. “By providing these services to employers we are equipping them in a unique way to be more efficient with their most important asset – their people,” she says.

Services include building a fair chance hiring strategy for untapped talent, redesigning HR practices to shift culture, and health checks using a proprietary process that includes data collection tools she and her business partner and husband ALAFEEZ OLOKUNOLA designed.

The approach is holistic, factoring in human behavior, internal dynamics, and external world events. The company offers simulations to demonstrate the possibilities. “It’s an exciting new approach to the critical functions of any business,” says Olokunola.

Re-Engineering HR has worked with large companies across the United States and overseas including Patagonia, Plenty, Blueboard, 101 Mobility Wilmington, Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, Anonymous LLC, and Inside Out.

What’s next? Olokunola says, “First, I am proud that we started. That first step was really scary, especially since everyone was watching. Our story is far from over. Now we are putting together an advisory board and hiring a few part-time team members to help us with our structure. We would love to bring some of this work home and engage local businesses that help shape our economy.”

Olokunola concluded, “Personally, I want to play in the sandbox with others who want to reshape the future of work. And take a really cool vacation with the family.”

To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to

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Categories: Women to Watch