Executive Spotlight: Suzanne Simpson

Aug 14, 2017

Suzanne Simpson, HR Director

Suzanne Simpson, HR Director, on site at a San Marcos construction project

Suzanne Simpson, HR Director, on site at a San Marcos Christus Construction Project

Suzanne Simpson, our new HR Director, burst onto the Sabre scene packing boundless energy and a 20-year hospitality career under her belt.  As Sabre’s first HR director and first female executive, she’s leaning into a new field, finding her role on the executive committee, and is especially avid to support and connect with each Sabre employee individually–in the office and in the field.

What drew you to Sabre?

I was drawn to Sabre’s culture – the pride in what we do and who we are, of striving to support each other in doing our best, and ultimately, our sense of family. John Cyrier once said to me, we’re not just responsible for 70 plus employees, we’re responsible for 70 families. That really resonated with me.

I had been working for hotels for 20-some years–primarily Hilton Worldwide–and got out of the industry for two reasons. First, I felt I had accomplished most of what I set out to do. Second, my job required massive international travel, which was keeping me away from my husband and little girl. I needed to change that.

What’s on your to-do list?

Bringing on and retaining the best talent, being a support to the team, and managing things like benefits packages, staff needs, vacation, personal time off, etc. And I’m learning about the industry as I go – it’s like learning a new language. The fact that this organization has never had HR is super exciting and terrifying at the same time, since I’m used to standards already being in place. We have some processes nailed down, but there’s a sense of starting from square one.

I’d love to spend a day in San Marcos. I’m working on meeting everyone – I’ve done some site walks but want to do more. It’s easy to find touch points with people in the office, but I want to connect with the whole team out in the field too.

What do you want Sabre employees to know about you?

I want them to know that I’m their advocate–I’m here to support them. I want them to know that I am a very joyful person but I understand the ups and downs of life. I don’t have the right in this role to criticize or judge.

I’m in support-coach-counsel-motivate mode – all those positive things that I think human resources is about. I want them to know that my door is always open – that they can come in if they need something official, or if they’re just having a bad day or want to share a story.

The bottom line is that my job is about the heart and soul of each one of the team members at Sabre. I’m not going to go into the executive committee meeting and talk about someone’s personal stuff. I want them to know they can trust me, but of course, they can come to that in their own time.

Photo of the Sabre Executives at our Deep Eddy distillery project

Sabre Executive Team at Deep Eddy Distillery Project in Kyle, Texas

What’s it like to be the only woman on the Executive Team?

One of my priorities is coming to understand the goals, the expectations, the drive, and the motivation behind the executive team. It’s interesting being the only female on a male board. They’ve been together for a while, so they finish each others sentences and kind of know what each other are thinking and respond in ways that are second nature. They totally understand each other, and have a kind of emotional shorthand. I’m really in a Switzerland role – I’m a kind of mediator on the executive team, but I also serve as a voice for the employees of the organization.

What’s your HR philosophy?

Conrad Hilton said it’s not the bricks and mortar, it’s the people that make a company a success. And that’s perfect for a construction company since we literally deal with bricks and mortar, and all the things that go into a project. But it’s the people who are happy, secure, comfortable and motivated in their jobs – driven by the values of our organization – who will get us to the next level.

Sabre is on the cusp of being even better. The company is taking on more and more challenging projects and investing in people who can help us thrive as we grow. As we position ourselves to explore new challenges, we’re going to take care of you as an employee as we all move together into the next stage of growth and development.

I feel like I’m a family member here. You know, I come in in the morning and I’m all good morning and chipper, and some people are like be quiet or rolling their eyes or whatever, depending on their moment. But it doesn’t matter, because I already feel like I belong. That’s part of what I want us to maintain as we grow, that sense of belonging and community.