Transitions: Christy Consler mixes things up at Jamba Juice

Talent Show

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.

Weinreb: Organizationally, where do think CSR should be housed within a company?

Consler: It matters less where it is housed and more about CEO sponsorship. To be successful, the person in charge of sustainability must have sufficient influence and connection in an organization so that they can enable CSR being part of everyone’s job.

Weinreb: The CSR program had been in place at Jamba Juice for several years. After one month on the job, what opportunity do you see on their horizon at Jamba Juice and CSR?

Consler: Again, it comes back to our mission, which is inspiring and simplifying a healthy living. We’re challenging ourselves to figure out how we can make that accessible and fun for everyone. So, how do we provide information so that people can make better choices? Whether through choosing better things for the school lunch or helping people to choose products that meet their nutritional needs, it’s all about finding ways to make a healthy living fun and accessible to everyone.

Weinreb: What advice do you have for professionals wanting to get into CSR or sustainability?

Consler: CSR and sustainability are relatively nascent compared to other more traditional jobs. Assuming you are employed and you want to get into this area, look for opportunities to benefit the company, either with revenue growth, cost savings, or reputation enhancements that would come from initiating a project. Then find ways to build support for your idea by talking about the benefits to the business. I think it’s all about showing initiative.