Episode 387: Understanding the Business, Influencing, and Design Thinking With Gabrielle Lorestani

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Gabrielle Lorestani, People Operations consultant and founder of Gabrielle Lorestani Consultant.

Episode 387: Understanding the Business, Influencing, and Design Thinking With Gabrielle Lorestani

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Gabrielle Lorestani, People Operations consultant and founder of Gabrielle Lorestani Consultant.

Table of Contents

I love that your advice came from a CEO, a head of HR, or, you know, your mom. No offense, Mom, but like, it’s, I think it’s so great to have a mentor who is in that Chief Executive Officer level role because they can really help give you insights into what they want and need from their HR person and their partner in business.

Episode 387: Understanding the Business, Influencing, and Design Thinking With Gabrielle Lorestani


Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:51.81] Hey there and welcome to the WorkoPogy podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses i offer for HRcertification, prep and recertification for HR leaders. This podcast is part of a series on the Workology Podcast focused on the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer or CHRO. The CHRO is sometimes called the VP of People or the Chief People Officer, and it is an executive or C-level role that deals with managing change, human resources, as well as organizational development. It’s really designed to help improve the overall efficiency of the company. The CHRO podcast series on Workology is sponsored by HR Benchmark Survey. Share your insights at HRBenchmarkSurvey.com. One of the reasons I have wanted to do this series is because there is so much mystery around that CHRO role, and I want aspiring CHROs to know the types of skills and experiences they need to promote into that future CHRO role. Along with hearing from senior HR leaders, our peers, find out how we’re partnering and collaborating with our executive peers. So before I introduce our guest, I want to hear from you. Please text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. Today, I’m joined by Gabrielle Lorestani, People Operations consultant and founder of Gabrielle Lorestani Consultant. Gabrielle has spent more than a decade as a  strategic people leader and operator in CPG, ad tech and health tech at companies in various stages, from global fortune 500 to early stage and hyper-growth startup. She now works with clients to design and execute People and Talent strategies based on their goals and grounded in their values. Gabby, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:02:56.61] Thanks so much for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:58.26] So let’s start with some background about how you got your start in HR and how your work has evolved into launching your own consultancy.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:03:06.99] Yeah, so I, when I talked to a lot of people, oftentimes folks say they kind of fell into it. This was very much an intentional career choice for me. So I, when I graduated, I was all about looking for entry level HR roles and I got really lucky with my first job out of college. So I graduated in 2010. The economy was still not in a great place from the 2008 recession. So I applied to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs, only landed two interviews of which I got one job. And it happened to be at a company called now called Danone North America. But for us in the US, we’re probably familiar with the brand Danone, it’s a-yogurt brand. And that’s where I started my career on the HR business partner team, essentially as an HR coordinator. And really that was supposed to be my first job out of college. I was probably just going to be here for about a year, turned into almost seven year career, which really ended up defining the type of HR work that I wanted to do. It informed the approach I wanted to take as a people leader and then ultimately influence the type of experiences I wanted to have afterwards. And so how that really kind of evolved over time, but really grounded in my experience at Danone North America was, one, working for companies that are mission driven. So I have to feel this connection and it’s always been what I’ve, what I’ve looked for.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:04:31.83] Second, progressive HR. It’s like before I even knew what progressive HR was like, I’m so grateful that my first experience in HR was at Danone because that is, that’s all I know. I don’t know, kind of this back office hidden like they just kind of push paper around experience. And then third, really understanding and having a connection with the business. And so that’s really been what’s informed my career since then, moving kind of getting my foot in the door into tech when I moved to Austin, Texas, and then ultimately joining my most recent company as their head of HR, as in a health tech startup. And so all of these experiences really, really taught me that I love consultative HR I love being able to, particularly as a business partner, kind of growing up in that space, really understanding the business and being able to strike this right balance of how can we leverage our people in order to make a difference, whatever it is that we’re doing as a company. Whether it’s delivering great health care or providing really nutritious food to as many people as possible, whatever it is. And so now as a consultant, what I love is I have this great breadth rather than really going deep into a certain industry or a certain company or product or service, I get to have this really cool breadth across different industries and I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:53.75] I’m glad that you didn’t have to deal with the non-progressive HR role. I’ll tell you a quick story. I worked for Home Depot and they transferred me while I was on vacation to this one store. They had a store, HR store person go out on leave of absence. The store manager of my first day there was banging on my wall because we shared the same wall and he banged on my wall and he said, HR, get me some coffee.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:06:21.47] Oh, no.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:23.48] I walked in and I used some profanity and that was how I, and of course it’s retail, home improvement, it’s a different space. This is, you know, a few years ago. But I set the tone and he never asked me for coffee again. I don’t know if it was real expectation or just some asshole move, but those, that’s a small example of, and that store was a mess. It had 20 EEOC claims and like a class action lawsuit stemming from that location. So it was a lot of fun.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:07:03.08] Sure.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:03.44] A lot of fun. But I love that you’re real intentional about that because I think that that’s really, truly how we can, we can really make an impact. What skills and experiences do you believe are absolute requirements for the CHRO or HR leadership role, especially thinking maybe for someone who’s just started out in the industry? I know that you’ve spent a lot of time as a Chief People Officer. You’ve recently left that role and are now coming out as a consultant with your consultancy. I think you’ll have a different perspective. I think maybe that people who are in the trenches right now maybe haven’t considered.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:07:41.60] Yeah, I think first and foremost is we have to understand the business first. So, you know, I think being able to speak at a high level about what the business does and what its mission is and who its customers are like, that’s, that’s important. But really understanding the why behind it, understanding not only being able to recite like OKRs or objectives, but understanding why they’re really important to drive the business. I think that’s first and foremost. I think the second skill that’s really important is influencing. So you know this better than I think than I do that a lot of times CHROs and HR leaders, we’re not really the final decision makers in a lot of things. So what we have is our ability to influence and underneath that is the relationships that we’re building, the trust and credibility that we have with, with the decision-makers. And so really like influence, the ability to influence is really like the, the outcome. And underneath that is all those things that just mentioned. And then the third that I think is really important is and I think this will be a game changer in kind of the HR leadership space is really taking a user-led or a design thinking approach when it comes to designing people and talent strategies and ultimately programs. It is how companies I think will really make the difference and ultimately differentiate themselves from a culture perspective. And that’s how they’ll be able to retain their best talent. I think that, that by far we’ve got a lot of work to do for companies to glom onto that. But I think that will be game-changing.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:18.09] I love that you mentioned that and especially design thinking. It’s been a while since we’ve done a podcast where we’ve talked about design thinking, so I’ll make sure to link in the show notes. We have a couple of different podcast interviews where we have focused on design thinking, but it’s been, oh gosh, probably three years, I think, since, since I have, have focused on that area. But I definitely think that focusing on employees as your customers to really understand and then creatively kind of think outside the box if I can, can use a buzzword bingo. But really truly thinking outside the box in terms of how to help support those customers, which in this case our employees and make the work experience better.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:10:03.33] Yes. Yes, completely. It’s, I would say in the last five years, that’s the greatest gift that I’ve been given from a prior HR leader was getting the entire HR organization. We did a massive investment in training on design thinking and how we can apply that, and I really believe it will change the way that we do work.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:24.81] I love it. I love it. Well, let’s talk about your current role as a consultant and how that may be different from your differs from your previous leadership roles in human resources.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:10:34.86] Yeah, I think the main I think, you know, on one hand and this is a good thing for me it hasn’t differed in, in the ways that really matter for me. So what has differed and I think it’s great, is I have a lot more flexibility so I can decide what work I want to do. Whereas when I was in house, I didn’t have as much autonomy over necessarily. There were a lot more kind of competing priorities. I get to decide the type of work I want to do. There’s obviously a lot of much more flexibility with I’m a, I’m a mom, I have a three-year-old. And so that certainly helps. But where I think it’s really what I love about what’s actually very the same is it still gives me the ability to do the work that I really want to do, and that’s what I’m really excited about. And so, and what I, the reason why I say that is I think what makes a really great HR leader is someone who’s consultative, someone who has a point of view, someone who has conviction behind something and like proactively shares that whether or not they were invited to do so. And so that’s what I love about consulting and the type of work I want to do is still having space to be able to do that. Granted, it’s a little bit different because I’m not you know, I don’t, I’m not an employee of the company. I’m not, there certainly is just stuff I’m going to have to do, having a client. But that part, I think has been the same and I’m actually really excited about that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:11:55.95] The flexibility is my, is, is one of my favorite part. I talked about this on a Facebook post actually this week because it was 9:30-10:00 at night, and I was working, but I was working because I took the day off and my daughter, who is virtual schooled and me, went and got hair appointments and spent some time together and I, it was, it’s a whole day situation for me and my hair. My daughter is the same, but you have the flexibility. Like, I didn’t have to pretend to send an email at 4:30 and schedule it. So somebody so I made it look or by one of those mouse movers that everybody has so that Slack and team show that they’re on. Like I told my team yesterday on the team call, I was like, Hey, you don’t need to respond to my message at 9:00 at night. Not that anybody was doing that, but I just wanted to iterate, like when I send you a message at 10:00 pm my time, I don’t have the expectation that you’ll respond. So don’t feel like it needs to be that way. But when you’re the boss of your own business, you can create the culture that you want. It’s hard and scary as hell, but it’s moments like those that I really love the flexibility.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:13:11.19] Yeah, I love that you got to spend that time with your daughter.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:13.90] Yeah. She’s such a good kid. What is your approach to consulting and how you work with business leaders? Because I know you focus a lot on early-stage HR teams. So let’s talk about that whole process because I, I love this part.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:13:31.56] Yeah. So oftentimes, like, what I’m finding is like early stage is typically meaning kind of one of two things. It’s either they have a newer head of HR or maybe this is their first kind of head of role or like a newer people ops manager or they just, they’re kind of like the founding HR team and they’re a team of one or two and they’re scaling really quickly. And so really how I work with, with those folks is it’s really the same which one is like helping me understand, one, the business to like what their kind of short and mid-term goals are. Because I think in the startup world, like I’d love to say like I really want to know what like short, mid, and long-term plan is what the reality is at startups, things are changing so quickly. Especially if you’re joining earlier stage, like series A. So really focusing on short to mid-term. And then the third,. Second thing I would say is really focusing on the fundamentals I can appreciate, it may not feel like the sexiest work on the planet, like making sure that you have like really good data integrity and making sure that you’re compliant. You’ve like you’ve got everything covered from a compliance perspective, but especially after going my last almost two and a half years in my previous role as head of people, I have such a greater appreciation for the importance and investing in that because that is what everything else is built upon. So that’s really where we’re spending a lot of our time is building out that roadmap of what are those fundamentals that we’re going to focus and prioritize so that we can build and do eventually be able to do like the really fun, sexy stuff.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:02.98] Personally, I have been in situations where you come in as a consultant because there’s some HR emergency and it’s really basically just the waterfall effect of all this other stuff that has been done halfway or not at all for a really long time. So I know that CEOs and venture funds aren’t always super excited about having HR. But those that do, they can really, if they invest in a consultant or a senior level HR person to come in and help set things up, it will really help eliminate headaches for the long term. It’s an investment in the future. You can’t just turn on HR, and make everything work. It, there’s a ramp-up period, and you kind of have to, like, organize your closet. It takes time before, like you have to, to do all that before you, you build the new closet system.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:16:03.10] Yes, I think that’s a really great way to put it, is you’ve got to, you’ve got to organize the closet first.

Break: [00:16:09.23] Here we are. Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and you are listening to the Workology Podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. We are talking about the role of the CHRO with Gabby Lorestani, People Operations Consultant and founder of Gabrielle Lorestani Consultant. The CHRO podcast series on Workology is sponsored by the HR Benchmark Survey. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. You can ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:16:49.19] Benchmarking and data is crucial to HR leaders. Workology’s HR Benchmark Survey is an always-on survey and just by taking the survey at HRBenchmarkSurvey.com, you’re signing up to get comprehensive quarterly results, white papers, and other research from the survey right to your inbox. It takes 10 minutes or less to complete. Visit HRBenchmarkSurvey.com.

When Is the Right Time to Bring a CHRO Into the Organization?


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:15.08] In your experience, is there a specific or kind of like a target size employee count when somebody needs to have somebody like you come into the organization? Let me, we’ll just think high-growth.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:17:26.69] Yeah. I mean, I really think that by the time you hit, like you surpass 50 employees, definitely once you are getting closer to 100 is important because typically I think it’s right around 150 or so where stuff starts to break. And it’s just a natural inflection point for a lot of high-growth companies. And so the sooner you can bring somebody in or really invest, I love what you talked about HR as an investment, and I 100% agree in that statement. The sooner you can bring them in so that they can, you know, do all that kind of, kind of gap analysis and see what’s the most important so that you can do the more scalable things when you’re, when you’re really in the thick of that high-growth, the better. So I would say somewhere around between the 50 and 100 employee mark is really where you’re going to want that type of expertise to come in.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:16.55] So make a note. And I also think this is also good for HR leaders who are thinking about moving into a consultant role. What I also see a lot of and, and I’m not an HR consultant expert, but I see people in the beginning who want to do everything. It’s like, yes, I will work as a recruiting consultant. Yes, I will be a public speaker. Yes, I will be a consultant and I will negotiate with your benefits broker. I like on the side, but I think you’re so smart to focus in one core area because you can truly be the expert. And as an entrepreneur, multitasking is, it really takes away and it confuses people about what your actual area of expertise really is.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:19:00.89] Yeah. And the other thing, if I can add, I find a lot of, if anyone else is like me, I’m very type A, was very much like usually the mindset of like asking for you got to figure everything out on your own. We’re a startup. You have to be scrappy. One of the best things I did when I was at my most recent startup was one of, my boss actually was like, You got to ask for what you need. And one of the things that I needed that I had no experience in was how do we scale an intentional remote-first environment? That’s where I got this kind of entry point into this world of HR consulting, because we ended up partnering with a brilliant remote first expert who helped build our roadmap for how do we onboard and grow to ultimately 200 employees and get the time. We were probably around like 75 or 100. How do we do that at scale and in a remote environment? So it is important to ask for help. It’s, it is really valuable to have someone who’s gone through this experience before and work with you and that kind of advisor capacity. So I had, I did it. It was a really humbling experience and one of the most important lessons that I learned and I wish I had learned that lesson earlier in my career.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:07.64] Yeah, you wouldn’t hire someone to, to be HR who is a chef.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:20:13.40] Yes.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:14.57] What? I mean, it just, it just doesn’t, it doesn’t make sense. So I love that. That you can focus in a niche and bring in an expert because now you can learn from the expert.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:20:26.39] Yes, yes.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:27.14] And now you have that under your skill set as an, a Chief People Officer, which is fantastic. So kind of now looking from the outside in and, and using your experience also as Chief People Officer, what do you think the biggest challenge is for CHROs and HR leaders right now?

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:20:49.61] Man, I think if it’s anything, it’s like how to, there’s been so much new being thrown at us over the last three years like, like, yeah, last 3 to 4 years between a pandemic. And then following that we had vaccination requirements varied by state. Now we have pay transparency laws. So there are all these things that are happening that have never been done before. And so I think the biggest challenge is going to be how HR leaders are, how they can lead through these changes, knowing that there isn’t, there isn’t a playbook that they can go to their executive team and say, if you take option A, this is what the result is going to be. If you take option B, this is, this is what the result is going to be. So really being able to be the navigators and using those influencing skills to ultimately do whatever the right thing is for the business. And I always go back to whatever makes the most sense based on the business’s values and its culture as well. So I think just navigating all this new and all this change, it’s just going to keep coming. And that will be the biggest challenge for HR leaders.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:54.05] Now we got like AI, everybody’s talking about ChatGPT.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:21:57.44] Yes.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:58.19] There’s all this new HR technology coming in. I mean, I like your suggestion to just bring in the expert, right? I mean, as a consultant, we can invest time and to become experts or through projects and work that we do so that you can tap into that person or that, that person’s brain and, and kind of grab what you need. Because it is, I mean, if, I mean, I’m overwhelmed as, as a consultant, a business owner myself, I can’t imagine being in, in a Chief HR Officer role and being expected to be the expert in all these things that seem to be changing every single week.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:22:44.33] Yes. Yes, absolutely it is. And you’re right. And we, trust me, we hired a couple others who were very deep experts in certain areas. So it is really important to know and be aware of, Here’s what I know really well and here’s areas that I don’t. And there are a lot of really smart, capable people who can help and support you navigate through it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:04.19] So going back to your sort of foray into HR consultant, let’s talk about how you’re choosing the projects and companies that you work with and maybe walk us through maybe some of the criteria you’re using to determine whether or not someone is a good fit for you because this is an important component of your business.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:23:22.46] Yeah. Yeah. So a big one. So far I’ve been really lucky where a lot of the folks I’m working with have been, there are a lot of them are folks I’ve worked with over the last 12 years, so I may not have worked with them about seven years, depending on how long it’s been, but it’s folks in my network. And so that helps because I know, like this can be an unpopular thing to say when you’re thinking about interviewing and you’re supposed to go off of like really concrete things, but I always am a big believer, and I just talked to a friend about this is also an HR the other day, like vibes matter, like how you connect with somebody, they do make a difference. So first and foremost is like, how are we going to work together, me and the client? Is this a good, is this like a solid working relationship? Is there any sort of like tension? Or there’s like, does something feel off? And I think that’s so important, especially as a consultant. I want to make sure that this, the relationship and the scope is going to be set up for success for both me and the client. And so that’s first and foremost is do I feel like a good connection with the person who’s going to be my client? The second is making sure we have real scope for a project.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:24:28.55] So, I one of the biggest pieces of, pieces of advice before I got started was make sure that there is shared understanding and very clear a lot of clarity between you and your client and alignment on what it is you’re doing and what you’re delivering. A lot of times clients, some prospective clients I was talking to are like, I might need a little help with this and a little help with that. Like, I just want to create some space just in case I need to pull you in. I appreciate that, that they have that trust and faith in me. I also realize it’s really important. That’s really what I drive home with them is we need to have a scope of work because I want to make sure that I am delivering exactly what you need and that is going to set you up for success and meet up for success. So that’s, that’s been the biggest kind of the biggest important thing I’ve been doing is I’ve been kind of chatting with prospective clients.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:16.22] I love the boundaries and the scope of work because even today I had a conversation with somebody. I’m putting together a proposal and they’re like, Here are these things. Oh, and by the way, you’re an expert. You know, we’re in Europe, we’re coming, we’re going to launch in the United States, and I’d love to do these things. I tend to attract HR technology companies because of the community that we have. A lot of them come from Europe and Asia and want to come to the US. They’ve tried often and they’ll bring me in to help because I really focus mostly on North America.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:25:51.05] Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:51.83] But then they’re like, and we need some help with these seven things. And I’m like, okay, well, I’ll, you know, we’ll try to put that out. But I have learned because if you don’t, then there’s this whole uncomfortable conversation about payment like hours consulting.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:26:08.37] Yes.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:08.37] Like, because if you invest 5 hours of your time as an HR expert in this area, maybe you’re also going to launch an employee survey or something. Put that together like you, it wasn’t clear about what, the cost and the money that you would be receiving for that.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:26:22.67] Yes, exactly. Absolutely. So it is so important. And that is the biggest, is like are we on the same page when it comes to being very clear, having the shared context? And if not, then it may not be the best. I may not be the right fit for them. They may need someone who can give them kind of that breadth and flexibility.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:39.20] What is the most challenging thing about launching a new business as an entrepreneur in the HR consulting space? I mean, are you working mostly with CEOs or are you coming in and supporting HR? But I mean, first, what’s the most challenging thing that you’ve experienced?

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:26:55.55] So, for me, it was like just getting started. It was just like, like I said, I’m pretty type-A, risk-averse. So just like taking the leap. I’ve talked to a lot of people since I’ve made the decision to transition into consulting who have said, I’ve always wanted to do this. You’re so brave, and it’s like I’m not. I am scared. I am, I’m a little chicken. I’m, I’m scared. This is uncomfortable and new. So the first thing is just doing it for sure was the most challenging thing. And I think the second part for me and this is just more based on my personality, is more of like the business development side. So like I said, I’m really fortunate that a lot of my, my leads and, and clients are folks who I’ve worked with before. At some point, I need to push myself out of my comfort zone and really start investing time in business development and getting more comfortable with putting my name out and marketing myself. So that for sure is the most, is the most uncomfortable part of, and most challenging part for me of this, of this journey.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:27:55.07] I still have challenges with the business development side. It’s like, how do you ask for business? How do you let people know? How do you tell people, Hey, this has been a fun conversation, but it’s not going anywhere for me. That is incredibly hard for me, especially when people are like, Oh, I know you from the Internet, or I listen to your podcast. Like I was telling some of the number of emails that I get from people who want to, for me to have someone on the podcast and some vendor or someone trying to say, Hey, you know, we can help you with your recruiting. Like at some point, I have to say like, this isn’t how I work and sometimes people get offended, but I guess that’s their problem.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:28:36.09] Yes.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:37.03] Not mine. I mean, I we have to pay the bills. Magic money doesn’t just deposit into our bank account anymore every two weeks. It’s, it’s, it’s like that number. I’m always thinking like, okay, what is coming? And then how am I going to make my payroll? Because it’s coming out of my bank account, not the, the company’s bank account, but it’s my company. So and that number gets bigger as your organization gets bigger. I have a friend who had like I think he was, he sold his business since, but it was like a 20 million a month or something payroll that, he was in a consulting, HR consulting business. They were doing recruitment consulting. I’m like, Oh my God, it’s killing me just like $9,000 a month where I’m, I’m paying one person. So I can’t imagine like axing that, you know, I don’t know how much that number was, but substantially.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:29:32.72] Yeah, Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:29:34.58] So let’s switch gears and maybe talk about career advice. So maybe thinking about like stepping into that Chief People Officer role, what do you feel like was the best career advice that you’ve ever received that has really influenced you into the HR person that you are now?

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:29:53.30] Yeah, I was thinking about, I was thinking about this. I think the best part, the best advice I’ve ever gotten is from a former CEO that I worked with also at Danone. So clearly that was a very lasting impression on me. And she said something around, I want to get it right that when you’re thinking about making a career shift or doing something new, it’s really important to remember to keep one foot in something that you know and is familiar rather than jumping with both your feet into something completely new. And at the time I was thinking about like, do I want to go abroad and do like an international experience? And it was a different business unit, slightly different job. And so the way that I’ve applied that advice for me has been like how I think about my career changes that I’ve made. And so when I left Danone and I joined my second company, a lot of people would say, Oh, why did, why did she take that role? That was a lateral move. But for me it was as a Business Partner, it was client groups I already knew really well, but I’d never worked in tech before ever. And I’d never worked in a, the company I think was maybe, maybe eight years old. So wanting to keep some like a foot in something that I knew and felt really confident in at the same time I was moving from New Jersey to Austin. It was just a lot of, a lot of changes. So I think that’s the best piece of advice that’s worked really well for me is keeping a foot in something that I feel comfortable and confident in rather than jumping with my, both my feet into all new things and for me getting overwhelmed and not probably being set up for success.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:26.80] I love that your advice came from a CEO, a head of HR, or, you know, your mom. No offense, Mom, but like, it’s, I think it’s so great to have a mentor who is in that Chief Executive Officer level role because they can really help give you insights into what they want and need from their HR person and their partner in business.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:31:53.15] Yeah, I actually never thought of it that way. I think it’s a really insightful way to think about it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:58.79] Yeah, well, I did another podcast interview and I’ll link to it in the show notes from Donna Costa. She’s the Chief People Officer from Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Group, and she also, her career advice and relationship with her CEO was really influential, so much so that when he moved to Gordon Ramsay, she left her job and moved over with him. So these relationships with other executives and, you know, business professionals are really important. And I think having a team, even if you’re not on the same team to help support each other is really important.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:32:38.83] Yeah, agree. I couldn’t agree more.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:41.14] Well, Gabby, thank you so much for chatting with us. Where can people go to connect with you about your consulting? Where’s the best place to go?

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:32:50.53] Yeah, you can find me at GabrielleLorestaniConsulting.com, or you can find me on LinkedIn, Gabrielle Lorestani.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:59.20] We’ll link to the consulting company website as well as LinkedIn and then the other podcast that I’ve mentioned. But I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today. It Was fantastic.

Gabrielle Lorestani: [00:33:10.24] Thank you so much. It’s a lot of fun.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:12.43] Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast. This is part of our CHRO series on Workology and it is sponsored by HR Benchmark Survey. You can go to HRBenchmarkSurvey.com and take our survey. I loved this interview. It’s really interesting to dive into HR leadership and how consultancy can help support the organization and strategy of the people business. Supporting workplace leaders is challenging when you’re doing it in-house and engaging a consultant like Gabby can really allow an organization to have a fresh set of eyes when looking at programs and processes. I appreciate Gabby taking the time to share her expertise and experience with us today. Also, if you are moving into or thinking about moving into an HR consultant role, I think this podcast interview was fire for that. If you have suggestions or ideas or just want to talk, shop with me, text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you also. Thank you for joining and listening to the Workology Podcast powered by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who is tired of the status quo. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time you can visit Workology.com to listen to all our previous Workology Podcast episodes. Have a great day and I’ll see you soon.

Connect with Gabrielle Lorenstani.



– Gabrielle Lorenstani on LinkedIn

– Gabrielle Lorestani Consulting

– CHRO Job Description

– Episode 362: Understanding the Operations With Dona Costa, CPO at Gordon Ramsay North America

– Ep 202 – Design Thinking to Drive Organizational Transformation

 – Ep 174 – Design Thinking in Human Resources

How to Subscribe to the Workology Podcast

Stitcher | PocketCast | iTunes | Podcast RSS | Google Play | YouTube | TuneIn

Did you like this post? Share it!

A Word From Our Sponsors

Ads help make Workology resources free for everyone. We respect your privacy. To see our Privacy Policy click here.

Recommended Posts

Places to visit while in Chicago for the #SHRM13

Top 10 Must Sees in Chicago During #SHRM24

Must Sees in Chicago at the 2024 SHRM Annual Conference We’ve taken the stress out of planning and done all the work for you....

5 Foods You Have to Eat During #SHRM24 in Chicago

5 Foods You Have to Eat During #SHRM24 in Chicago Check out our free Yoga for HR class and take a break from #shrm24...

Discover the Best of Chicago

Top 10 Things to do in Chicago

Check out our free Yoga for HR class and take a break from #shrm24 at www.yogaforhr.com. Top 10 Things to do in Chicago Chicago...

HR Certification Podcast Episode 13: HR Metrics & Formula Review for HRCI & SHRM

In this episode of the HR Certification Podcast, we are reviewing the HR-to-staff ratio as well as the cost of vacancy (COV)....

HR Certification Podcast Episode 14: Leadership Review for HRCI & SHRM Exams

In this episode of the HR Certification Podcast, we are reviewing the balanced scorecard as well as types of scorecards within HR....

How HR Can Maintain Discipline and Ethics in the Workplace

Everyone deserves to feel safe at work, and companies are obliged to protect their workers and maintain discipline in the office. This includes putting...

Successful SHRM recertification

Your Path to Successful SHRM Recertification

Navigate your SHRM recertification journey with our guide. Uncover the process, benefits, and tips for successful career advancement in HR....
HR wellness retreat recruiting burnout stress reduction

How My Own Wellness Journey Led to Hosting an HR Wellness Retreat

Join us for Hretreat 2024, a wellness retreat for HR and TA professionals from October 10-13 in the beautiful hills of Austin, TX....

Checkout Our Products

Ads help make Workology resources free for everyone. We respect your privacy. To see our Privacy Policy click here.

More From Workology

Discover the Best of Chicago

Top 10 Things to do in Chicago

Click on read more to open this post on our blog.

5 Things to Do In Chicago During #SHRM24

Click on read more to open this post on our blog.

Going Paperless: Transitioning to a PDF-Based Workflow for Enhanced Efficiency

Click on read more to open this post on our blog.

How to Migrate a Brick-and-Mortar Business Into the Digital Domain

Click on read more to open this post on our blog.