Sandi Valdovinos oversees the human resources and company culture operations of Alert Communications and its parent company Nexa Receptionists Holdings LLC (“Nexa”).
In this Q&A, get to know Sandi, her role as Chief People Officer and her views on “company culture,” as well as the top three human resources initiatives she plans to target first to drive Alert’s internal mission and values.
About the Role: Chief People Officer
In your own words, how would you describe your role as CPO?
From the title, most people can glean that a chief people officer’s focus is…drumroll please, people! Sounds simple enough, but the responsibility of a company’s people can be complex with a variety of areas that need focus. Why? Because people are different and unique. Different and unique people want different and unique things. So, tapping into what motivates people, how people want to be recognized and what is important to our people can be an incredibly challenging but worthwhile endeavor. Recruiting the right people into our organization, creating an environment that makes people want to stay, helping our people find success and fulfillment as they contribute to our company’s goals—all while meeting the unique needs of our diverse employees—is of paramount importance.
Sandi’s History with the Company
What was your role within the company before stepping into the CPO role?
I first came to Alert Communications five years ago before it was acquired by Nexa. Initially, I was a human resources business partner. After some time, I moved into an HR director role and then into the Senior Vice President of HR & Operations. It has always been my belief that to be a valuable professional you need to understand as much about the overall business as possible, and how your role or area of responsibility fits into the larger company goals and drives achievement of those goals. I think it’s my curiosity in our business, coupled with my interest in our people, that has propelled me forward in my career at Nexa.
What is “Company Culture”?
In your opinion, what are the guiding principles of a “company culture”?
“Culture” is in some ways a very overused term these days. Companies use the term “culture” to refer to their stated values, or to describe their employee engagement programs and initiatives, or a whole host of other things. Culture has become this thing outside of ourselves, when it actually should come from within our people.
To me, the culture of a company comes down to the day-to-day interactions between employees and with our clients. We can say we stand for certain things, and we can be very intentional in choosing what we stand for, which is extremely important. However, ultimately, it’s what happens as we pass one another in the hall, how we engage during a team meeting, how we handle healthy conflict or how we make one another, and our clients, feel after an interaction with us. Those are the instances when our true culture and belief system is on display. It’s those small everyday moments that over time build and define our culture. It’s not so much what we say about ourselves as it is about what we do!
Alert’s Culture & Values
How would you describe the company culture at Alert?
The things that I have learned in my time as CPO is in the interactions I have had with our people. From those interactions, I would say that we have an environment made up of people who are driven, curious, kind, innovative and resourceful. Today we are on a great tide of growth and expansion, so we are lucky that we have such ambitious and creative people.
What are Alert’s core values?
We have not landed on our corporate-level core values yet. We have done some work around this recently and some of our operating brands have defined values of teamwork, obsession, accountability, integrity and diversity, which is fantastic! I believe this is an area where we will do more work over the course of this next year and beyond.
Sandi’s Top Initiatives
What are the three top initiatives you plan to target first as CPO?
There is so much happening within our company and so many initiatives that I would love to get started on! But there is only so much time, so I know it will be important to narrow our focus. The way I think about this is to ask myself, what is most important to our people?
Based on what I know, people are interested in their career growth and development, so working on our career progression tools and programs is important. Additionally, people want to know and feel they are valued and appreciated for the hard work they do, so it will be important to ensure that we are finding meaningful ways to recognize everyone who works to make valuable contributions to our organization. Lastly, I believe people want to be a part of something they can feel proud of, something bigger than themselves and something aspirational. It will be important that we can craft, articulate and then execute on a vision and mission that inspires all of us to do our best work and be our best selves!