Rachel Sanchez’s passion for helping people and anticipating their needs serves her well in her role as Human Resources Manager at the Texas Association of Counties (TAC). She is responsible for recruiting, hiring and onboarding new employees, as well as for the ongoing management of employee benefits and personnel records.
“Rachel is an amazing source of knowledge and support for TAC employees,” says Jenny Gilchrist, Director of Human Resources. “Many of the tools that employees rely on to easily access and use their benefits were put in place by Rachel. These are the strengths she brings: She thinks through what will benefit employees, what will support them in serving our counties and then she systematically implements it.”
Rachel joined TAC in 2018 as HR Coordinator, but it wasn’t until Susan Redford became Executive Director in 2019 that TAC established a dedicated HR department. Rachel worked with Gilchrist and helped develop the systems and structure needed to build the new department. In January 2020, Rachel was promoted to HR Manager and recently hired a Benefits Coordinator.
How did you get into HR as a career?
Human resources is my second career. Earlier, I managed a team in the costume department at Walt Disney in Southern California. I loved that job but living in California was not sustainable. I moved to Austin and took a job as an organizational coach at eBay. Later, I was given the opportunity to implement the HR function at a local startup, and I found that I loved the work. I supported that startup for a few years before joining TAC.
Although developing technical specifications and replicating patterns for costumes is a world apart from HR, Disney was very good training for a career in HR. Disney has a world-renowned customer experience and service model that I could apply to my work in HR. I’ve always understood that if I provided what employees needed — whether that was a costume that fit perfectly or a benefits program that was easy to access — those employees would be in a better position to provide a great experience or service to customers.
You helped build the HR department at TAC. Was that satisfying?
It was incredibly satisfying, not only seeing the resulting benefit to employees, but also the professional growth opportunity it gave me to apply my skills and continue learning. TAC supported me in achieving the Society of Human Resource Management certified professional designation (SHRM-CP), which is the HR industry standard.
“I’ve always understood that if I provided what employees needed ... those employees would be in a better position to provide a great experience or service to customers.”
— Rachel Sanchez
One of the first initiatives I led was creating a new hire orientation. It’s a one-day event to help new employees get acclimated to TAC and to the needs of counties. It sets them up for success right away, and the feedback has been very positive. We transformed the event to a virtual format during the pandemic, and that was an exciting challenge, too. I do look forward to when we can be back in person. I really believe that first day can set the tone for success with a new company.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I love to work on jigsaw puzzles. I also enjoy sewing, but that is a difficult hobby to have with both a toddler and a curious cat at home.
People may be surprised to know that my husband, Caleb, is a former TAC employee. In fact, he was featured in County magazine in 2020. Our family consists of our 1-year-old son, Gideon; a dachshund named Petey; and the cat, Penelope.
What are you working on now?
I’m excited about our plans to revamp our recruitment and hiring process. Two years in a row, TAC has been named Austin’s Top Workplace, and we want to continue attracting the top candidates to join our team and stay for a long time. We have a goal to get open positions filled more quickly and to provide more support to hiring managers earlier in the hiring process. In the same way, we want our employees to feel supported and set up for success, we want prospective employees to have a wonderful and consistent experience of what a career at TAC could be. This is one way HR is helping to move TAC forward, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.