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Sasaki Welcomes First-Ever Chief People Officer Varda Halidy

We are thrilled to welcome Sasaki’s first-ever chief people officer, Varda Halidy. As part of Sasaki’s ongoing efforts to be an equitable, inclusive organization, Halidy will lead strategic advancement of the firm’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts. Halidy will actively develop diversity and inclusion initiatives by reviewing and implementing cultural strategies, processes, and organizational practices. The aim is to make all employees feel valued, engaged, recognized, and rewarded. She will oversee employee recruitment, retention, office culture/morale, staffing, coaching/mentoring, and professional development.

We recently chatted with Halidy about her background, what she loves about working in HR, and more.

Q: If you were introducing yourself to someone new, what would you tell them about yourself and your background?

I love challenges, and that’s part of the reason why I’ve worked in so many industries. I like to learn new things. Everyone I’ve spoken to at Sasaki brings creativity and excitement to their projects. That was also true at Hill Holiday Advertising, where I worked as a generalist, HR Recruitment Manager, the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Liaison, the payroll manager for the South Carolina office, and more, which allowed me to learn every aspect of HR. That’s when I realized my love  for HR and recruitment.

Similarly, when I was the National Director of Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for the Elizabeth Warren campaign and Vice President Human Resources for American Student Assistance, they asked me to take on the full gamut of HR — and my favorite aspect of the work is always my relationships with the people. I’ve never met a person I didn’t care about!

Q: What is about working with people that brings you so much fulfillment?

I firmly believe an organization is only as good as its people. We can have the best clients, the best RFPs, we can have a lot of money flowing in, but if the people who work for us are not happy and giving their all, then you lose some of the value of who you are as an organization. So when I met with CEO James Miner and other members of Sasaki’s leadership for the first time, I was absolutely floored that the primary purpose of my role at Sasaki is for the people.

Q: What are you most excited about doing here at Sasaki?

I envision that we are going to have synergy across the whole practice. No one should feel excluded from processes. No one should miss out. Everyone should feel as if they’ve contributed to their projects.

Through company listening tours and working with Sasaki’s leadership, we will find ways to ensure Sasaki has a productive and engaging work environment where employees feel safe, comfortable, engaged, and capable of being successful. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with leadership to expand on the firm’s professional development opportunities and career paths, and to build on programs and initiatives that drive and sustain Sasaki’s culture. 

“I firmly believe an organization is only as good as its people. We can have a lot of money flowing in, but if the people aren’t happy, you lose some of the value of who you are as an organization.”

-Varda Halidy, Chief People Officer

Q: Who do you admire most from a professional standpoint?

My mom, hands down. My mother dropped out of school in the eighth grade because her father passed away and she was the oldest of six children. She started her own business as a seamstress to help her mom take care of the family — she had such an entrepreneurial spirit. My mother was a haitian immigrant from Haiti who came to this country without even a high school diploma. With limited options, she decided to take a job as a housekeeper at a local Boston Hospital. One day, as she cleaned a patient’s room, the patient mistook her for a nurse. The nurse on duty witnessing this interaction, laughed at her and told the patient, “She’s housekeeping, she’s not a nurse.” So at that moment my mother decided to go back to school, got her high school diploma, and then became a nurse.

I’ve always felt the same way – no way no one’s going to tell you what you are, you decide that. 

Q: Is there any advice you’d give yourself 10 years ago?

I love that question! If you feel like you’re failing, remember there’s no such thing as failure. Anything that you’re experiencing is a lesson for you to learn or a lesson for you to teach. So wrap yourself around all circumstances, even if it doesn’t feel good to you. 

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