Lisseth Zouhbi endeavors on taking new challenges. After almost twenty-five years of HR expertise, almost exclusively in the luxury hospitality industry, Zouhbi has embarked on one of her biggest roles yet: a chief human resources officer in the nonprofit industry for California-based Child Care Resource Center (CCRC).
A big driver for Zouhbi to embark on a new industry was to learn and expand her knowledge working for an organization that has a big impact on the community. “Every experience I have had, I’ve learned something new and grown in different ways,” Zouhbi says. “I’ve continued pursuing my education and work to see the bigger picture of how my role can positively impact others. This was a chance to have a direct impact on the local community.”
CCRC’s focus on children is especially meaningful to Zouhbi who, as a mother of two, understands just how much parents want their children to be able to thrive. She is also aware the struggle of the community not always having the economic resources or support networks to ensure the children and families have the proper resources.
At a time when many parents are paying so much for childcare and the reality that one parent may have to put their career on hold for the betterment of their family, Zouhbi appreciates the opportunity to support an organization whose goal is to help families thrive together.
In her new role, Zouhbi has a team of forty and growing, the largest team she’s had in her career. Like many organizations, CCRC was also facing the challenge managing changes in a post-COVID environment. CCRC was continuing to grow and required a significant amount of reorganization to adapt to the post-pandemic new normal.
Zouhbi was tasked to create an organizational development department, implement Workday, and rebuild the organization’s learning and development programs to help support the organization’s growth strategies.
“I realized that in order for our growth to continue, we needed to take a step back and look at our organizational structure and assess our internal processes, training, and development programs to be able to sustain the projected growth,” she says. “Our CEO’s vision was also for CCRC to implement a robust system to improve our technological procedures in preparation for our growth.”
Zouhbi, who joined CCRC in March 2022, says the rebuilding of the learning and development team and programs is ongoing and the implementation of Workday will be completed (at time of speaking) by the end of 2023. It was critical getting feedback from stakeholders for these changes and incorporate trends happening in the workforce.
The CHRO cites that the first ninety days of a new employee are critical to ensuring the employee is engaged and supported to develop and grow in the organization. With over 1,200 employees, CCRC has a significant number of employees who are in supervisory or middle management roles for the first time, and that requires leaders to feel supported and empowered by their leadership teams.
It’s still so early in Zouhbi’s tenure that her long-term goals for her team are still developing and evolving, but she’s still been able to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. Those accomplishments are especially poignant seeing as she never thought she’d wind up in human resources.
“I fell into human resources by accident,” Zouhbi explains. “I had to work my way through school, and hospitality industry gave me that flexibility to work and go to college.”
Zouhbi started in operations, worked her way into accounting, and eventually found herself in a role in HR. The daughter of two immigrants from Mexico, Zouhbi’s bilingual skills were particularly effective in the hospitality industry where so many Latinos are employed, especially in Southern California where she grew up.
Almost twenty-five years working in hospitality, she would support hotel transitions, roll out new corporate programs, work through a financial crisis (a particularly challenging time when Zouhbi had to conduct multiple layoffs), drive culture, develop training programs, and work on international projects for multiple organizations.
At this moment in her career, Zouhbi is also hoping to inspire and grow others. She recently joined Latinas Rising Up in HR, a network of professional Latinas focused on personal and professional growth in the HR space. While she’s always had a passion for development, Zouhbi focuses on the development of her team to ensure it operates efficiently and that each individual has the opportunity for growth.
“I believe if you’re absent and your division is still able to run smoothly, you’re doing something right,” Zouhbi says. “I want to equip my team with the development, resources, and empowerment to be their best selves and to grow into new roles. I have very candid conversations with my direct reports and what’s working and what needs to improve to get them where they want to be. That feedback was important for me, and I hope it’s benefiting them.”
Zouhbi’s perseverance and drive to keep growing over the last twenty-five years has helped her to achieve her goals and stay passionate in developing others to be the best they can be.