August 20, 2019

At Work with Nhu Khazal

This post is part of our #HGatWork series, giving you an inside look at the people behind our work and the leaders who further our mission to empower kids to develop lifelong healthy habits.

Nhu Khazal, who is based in Fairfax, Virginia, is Healthier Generation’s chief human resources officer. She will be celebrating her third Healthier Generation work anniversary this October. As a member of the senior leadership team, Nhu works alongside other senior leaders, the Board of Directors, and fellow Healthier Generation teammates to execute best-in-class human resource programs. Read on to learn more about Nhu and how her work supports a healthy future for youth across the nation.


What inspired you to work for Healthier Generation?

 As I was interviewing for my current position and in meeting my prospective colleagues, I was most excited about the opportunity to work with such a talented group of individuals and was equally inspired by the passion that was clearly demonstrated in the way in which these individuals described and went about performing their work at Healthier Generation. I could tell from the very start that there was a unique culture at this organization, which I wanted to be a part of and help cultivate. Looking back almost three years now, I’m still as motivated and interested in what we do as an organization, how we go about doing it, and the children we serve. 


What does a typical work day look like for you? 

The great thing about my role is that there is no “typical” day. Every day represents a new opportunity to build bridges with colleagues with whom I may not interact on a regular basis. To continue connecting the objectives of the talent development function with that of the organization, I collaborate across business functions in identifying the greatest sources of challenge for immediate attention. I strive to co-create a plan that will guide all business partners to success, while forging a strong culture and powerful employer brand in the process.   


What are you working on right now that really excites you?  

We are at a pivotal moment of change in the organization with new leadership and are positioned to build the strength of the organization, and explore and expand our capabilities to deliver topnotch services and resources to our national partners—all while addressing the whole child model. Foundationally, there’s always been a strong culture of learning, and we are leveraging that to continue to create even more development opportunities, especially around leadership skills, that will be available to all employees, regardless of their role or title. Having amazing and talented colleagues to work alongside every day makes all of this possible and fun! 


What does working at Healthier Generation mean to you? 

The opportunity to work collaboratively with strategic partners to define and reinforce organizational development and transform workplace culture is what I look forward to each day. Knowing that the important work we do to empower children to lead healthier lives is what motivates me to continue to streamline, create, and innovate across the organization. The programs and initiatives that Healthier Generation promotes and offers have the potential to greatly shape the lives of future generations and improve the lives of many. To know that I have an opportunity to play a role in this is a great reward and honor! 


What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment (personal or professional)? 

My career hasn’t always been in human resources. I started my career in retail banking, working my way up from drive-through teller to managing branches, and then later to overseeing regional operations and facility management for the banking system. I guess you could say that fate has a way of intervening and led me to transition to a career in human resources. That’s what ultimately led me to my current passion for team-building and empowering individuals to build on their strengths and maximize their potential. It was not an easy transition, and it continues to be a journey for me, but I find that with time, a little perseverance, and a positive attitude, you will get to where you want to go both personally and professionally. My career in human resources has allowed me to meet and work with so many interesting people from diverse backgrounds and facets of life. The richness of these interactions and relationships helps me to better understand the great work that they are doing and why they are doing it. This depth of connection allows me to better support them in their journeys.  


At Healthier Generation, we place a lot of emphasis on work-life balance and living a healthy lifestyle. How do you maintain a healthy balance and “walk the talk?”  

I have to admit, work life balance is harder and harder to achieve as you continue to move up the career ladder. So I greatly appreciate the support and encouragement of my team members and colleagues alike to ensure that I am setting aside time to take care of myself. I try to set aside regular time on my calendar to practice some mindfulness or incorporate some physical activity into my day and of course, celebrate small successes along the way. My daughter and I recently made a pact to support each other in this endeavor, but we knew that we needed some help along the way. We focused on building a routine that we both could incorporate into our busy lives. We are currently working with an awesome personal trainer who is educating and helping us to balance the nutrition component with physical activity, for a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. Here’s Hannah and I doing some fun over/under stretches with a weight ball just before our workout session!  

What do you enjoy the most about working at Healthier Generation? 

I most enjoy the people who make this organization great—which contributes to the thriving culture. The passion and genuine commitment that is demonstrated by people at Healthier Generation is not only inspiring, it also exemplifies the spirit that drives collaboration and innovation here at Healthier Generation! The icing on the cake is the ability to work remotely from my home. This is truly a unique opportunity, especially within the human resources discipline.


How do you celebrate a healthy summer?  

For me, it’s all about spending precious time with family doing things outdoors whenever we can. We have a great farmer’s market near us that we visit first thing in the morning on Sundays to get fresh produce for the week and help support local farmers.  

We recently visited Denmark. Copenhagen is a very walkable city and our family thoroughly enjoyed walking the 8 miles a day touring different historical landmarks. You do have to be careful as pedestrians, as the hundreds of cyclists have their own dedicated lane adjacent to the sidewalk and they have the right of way! We visited the 17th century tower and observatory Rundetaarn (the round tower), the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. It is most noted for its equestrian staircase, a 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the platform at the top (34.8 meters above ground), and for the expansive views over Copenhagen. 

Another great visit was the Kronborg castle and stronghold located in the town of Helsingør. Immortalized as Elsinore in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe. Interesting fact… brother-in-law’s grandfather, as a child, grew up playing on the grounds of this very castle (when it ceased to be a royal residence and was converted into barracks for the army)! Here’s a photo of the marvelous view once you make your way up the 145 spiral stone steps to the top of the cannon tower. My adult children had a lot of fun and really enjoyed their time visiting the different cities and especially getting to know their Danish family members (they have only briefly met them when they were much younger). I highly recommend Denmark as a European vacation destination. If you ever get a chance to visit Denmark, I have plenty of recommendations to offer!