Transitions: Christy Consler mixes things up at Jamba Juice

Christy Consler recently took the position as SVP, HR, Communications and Corporate Responsibility at Jamba Juice.  Her previous role was at Safeway as VP Sustainability and prior to that she was in charge of Leadership Development. At both companies, her role encompasses human resources and sustainability. I sat down with Consler to discuss the intersection of these two functions — the heart of my Talent Show column, and of Consler's new job.

Ellen Weinreb: Christy, how did you get where you are today?

Christy Consler: My background is in brand management and marketing. I started out in the food industry, after I got my MBA. I worked at General Mills in Brand Management, which proved a solid training ground for general management and business. It was also at General Mills that I became interested in leadership.

Fast forward, I had the opportunity to join Safeway to head up their leadership development and executive development functions. While at Safeway, I was working closely with an Executive Vice President who was involved with developing a formalized sustainability program. We began working on that initiative together. Later, I transitioned from leadership development to sustainability. 

What’s great about Jamba is that I am able to unite both areas of interest for me and now again I am doing both HR leadership development and corporate responsibility.

Weinreb: What do you see as the similarities between human resources and CSR?

Consler: They both come down to leadership. I believe that leadership is the secret sauce for having a successful business because company culture and leadership capabilities really are either enablers or detractors of your strategy. So, you could have the best strategy in place but it won’t matter if you do not have the right culture and the right leadership in place to galvanize the team and to executed and get the people to follow.

Sustainability is broader; it’s a longer-term view of business strategy because ultimately sustainability is about long-term sustainability and vitality of your company. It is not just shareholder value but broadly about how you plan your strategy with a long-term vision in mind.

Weinreb: How does your CSR background make you a better head of HR?

Consler: I think employees wants to serve, they want have a bigger sense of purpose beyond creating shareholder value. They want to know that their works do matter. CSR is a great way to help people get involve in an area that they are passionate about because CSR program are generally so broad.

We define corporate responsibility broadly at Jamba to include Healthy Teams (employees), Healthy Community, Healthy Products and Healthy Planet. Between those four platforms there is something everybody can relate to and become involve in. I think it is a great way to build engagement. 

One example of this is our sponsorship of the Rock and Roll Marathon.  Groups of employees will go and run races together and support one another in training. This builds a sense of connection in the community and develops a deeper relationship beyond a transactional working relationship. This is just one example but we have many other opportunities for community involvement.

Weinreb: Now the opposite question -- how does your HR background make you a better head of CSR?

Consler: I think part of our role is to really make sure that we equip and enable our leaders and all our team members to have the capability to drive the business. Going back to the four pillars -- those pillars are centrally tied to the core mission of the business.  By aligning mission with leadership development, the growth is sustainable and solid.

Next page: Where should CSR live?