Laura Robblee, Zuora Chief Human Resources Officer, and Valerie Jackson, Zuora Chief Diversity Officer, recently joined The Modern People Leader Podcast, a weekly podcast that interviews chief human resources officers, chief people officers, and other human resources experts about the constantly evolving workplace to share what’s working, what’s not, and how they’ve gotten to where they’re at in their careers.
From their partnership to their shared vision, their conversation provided an inside look at the very specific culture we’re intentionally building here at Zuora.
Check out the highlights from the convo. ?
Laura and Valerie both report to Zuora CEO, Tien Tzuo as members of eComm (our executive team). As peers and partners, their team’s goals are complementary and together they are intent on building a successful partnership—key ingredients to their magic sauce! But their goals aren’t the only complements that are making the magic happen:
Valerie: Laura truly listens to understand and then builds and solves. As opposed to trying to fit everyone into a solution she’s already devised because it’s from some playbook, someone wrote somewhere, right? She’s a true partner. She is thoughtful and she’s really positive, which I appreciate because my schooling [as a trained attorney] has taught me to always look for the problems and issues in everything. We balance each other out really well. When I’m seeing all the problems and trying to work the solutions, she’s seeing the possibilities and the positive sides of things.
Laura: To have a thought partner in Valerie has been instrumental for the whole executive team. She has an interest in the business, as do I, and we come from a perspective of “how do we help the business?” and then flip it from a talent perspective, so we can help our ZEOs really be able to grow.
Both Valerie and Laura are focused on Zuora’s people and culture, aligned in their mission and their passion as they help lead people and teams to success by creating an inclusive, high-performance culture that every ZEO wants to subscribe to. While their goal is one in common, their different focus areas generate traction to move their mission forward.
Laura: When we focus on our strategy, building an inclusive, high performance culture, it’s taking this element that our CEO created for the ZEOs, which is: owning your outcomes, being your best self, and really feeling like you’re an owner.
So we took that element and really started to expand on this [other] element of high performance, but we didn’t want it to be a cutthroat culture. So this idea of inclusivity and the sense of belonging, we absolutely know is the biggest element for people to feel that they can be seen, heard, and understood to show up as their authentic self and do their best work.
If we can focus on creating the best space possible for people to have the right tools, the right information, the right support from their managers and leaders and peers, because we created an environment where we lean so heavily on one another as peers, that’s where we all lift each other up and we perform at our best, highest performing selves.
Valerie also puts emphasis on using equity as a culture foundation.
Valerie: Diversity is a measurement of organizational equity. Equity is a desired state of being for me. Equity is fairness and then inclusion is the desired outcome that we attain through behaviors and processes and systems. So I would say that inclusive behaviors, most certainly, are a leadership competency or should be. You’re leading inclusively or you aren’t.
For Laura and Valerie (and Zuora), a key aspect of creating an inclusive, high performance culture, especially as we transition to the future of work, is ensuring ZEOs feel like they belong at Zuora and with other ZEOs.
Valerie: You don’t have a company without a thriving culture and engaged people. Either people feel like they are valued and respected and like they belong, and like they have psychological safety on their team…or they don’t. And how you lead determines the existence of those things in your, and in your colleagues and in your team members’ environments. We are all embodiments of the culture, so it’s not just a competency. It is literally you are either building or destroying a healthy culture. What do you wanna do?
Laura: If we can break the feeling of isolation and really create this space of belonging where people can show up and feel connected, mission-driven, seen, and understood—I know that’s what everyone is trying to solve for—but in my gut and heart, that’s really a key focus that I would love to just have the magic wand [that gives] everyone that sense of belonging.
With all that has happened and is still happening in the world, staying focused on what’s within our control has been key to maintaining forward momentum.
Laura: If we can focus on creating the best space possible for people to have the right tools, the right information, the right support from their managers and leaders and peers, because we all know that we have, created an environment where we lean so heavily on one another as peers, that’s where we all lift each other up and we perform our, our at our best, highest performing selves.
Change is constant and Valerie’s advice to her younger self, are words we can all benefit from hearing:
Valerie: Career and personal life alike. Right. You’re gonna be okay. Surf the waves of change, stay nimble, stay open and flexible so that you can bend, not break and grow and thrive.
This conversation first appeared in The Modern People Leader Podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcasts. You can find Laura and Valerie’s conversation with the hosts in episode 70. The quotes above have been edited for brevity and clarity. It is highly recommended that you listen to the full podcast episode to hear the amazing context to these golden moments.