Esther Zohn is our new people person. The Executive Director of People, that is. As StrongArm rapidly grows – we have now surpassed 100 employees (!) – we continue to invest in the people and processes that will assist us in building nothing less than a world class people organization. Esther is a critical addition to our team. She believes in translating business vision into talent and organizational strategies that enable a company to drive results through its people, bringing human resources and people management experience from a number of different companies and industries, such as Audible, where she was the Director of Talent and Culture for a number of years, and she is a key piece in this natural evolution of StrongArm.
We asked Esther a few questions, below, to help you get to know her better.
What drew you to StrongArm and what are you most excited to make an impact on?
The mission excites me. I love the origin story and Sean’s motivation behind the mission. I feel that it’s so important that we protect our Industrial Athletes, and that we’re there for them and that we support them.
After learning more about the culture here, I was also so excited to work at a company that has a ‘people first’ culture. I’m really excited to build on that and ensure that StrongArm is a place where it’s all about supporting our employees who support our Industrial Athletes.
Prior to joining StrongArm, which career accomplishment are you most proud of?
I started at Audible, an audiobook company that is a subsidiary of Amazon, when they had 700 employees and they grew to 1,600 when I left. I was the first HR business partner hired for the company and later became the Director of Talent and Culture.
An HR business partner is someone who is aligned with specific business units in the company and becomes a partner to that part of the business. I had the opportunity to teach business leaders at Audible how to partner with human resources so HR became a proactive function instead of reactive. Usually a leader will come to HR for things like hiring or performance issues, but as a strategic HR business partner, you’re really aligned with the business, you understand their challenges and opportunities, and you’re there to be a partner with them to help them to succeed. I would create HR initiatives that aligned with their needs, and that's something that I definitely want to bring to StrongArm as well – to make sure that our people and the business are aligned on company goals and that everyone understands their role and the important part they plan in StrongArm's success.
One of my big accomplishments was a career development program that I created. Many times employees leave organizations because they feel like there are no development opportunities for them. They may be looking for a promotion and they aren’t ready, or there may be no opportunities available. One of the things that we homed in on was helping people understand that taking on a lateral role within a different department or even the same department teaches them new skills and exposes them to other areas of the business which will help them to develop in their career. There’s a lot more to career development than just moving up the ladder nowadays because there isn’t necessarily a ladder anymore – it's all about the skills and experiences that you gain during your journey.
Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about my family. My husband and I have four kids. I love spending quality time with them, as well as my extended family.
I also love to read. I really enjoy both physical books and audio books. I read and listen to all different types of genres, everything from fiction to nonfiction, psychological thrillers and self help. Most recently, I read a really good book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a fascinating book that helps you break bad behaviors and adopt good ones by showing you small steps you can change in your daily routine that compound into positive changes over time. I highly recommend it.
I am so excited to be part of the StrongArm family and I look forward to meeting all of you!