Kelly Torrico was hired as ACC’s new vice chancellor of Human Resources this spring. She previously served as the college’s inaugural Employee Relations Officer.
We asked her to tell us about her new role and what she’s learned so far.
“Depending on generation and work experience, people may have different perspectives on what an HR function does. In the modern work environment, my experience in governmental, corporate, and healthcare sectors has been that HR professionals must not only be subject-matter experts in the areas of employment law, employee relations, recruitment, talent management, and compensation; they must also demonstrate strong business acumen,” says Torrico. “An HR leader acts as a partner and coach to leadership, working together to develop a long-term strategy that aligns with the organization’s goals. A strong HR team will strategically implement the strategy and help plan and manage change adoption.”
As the new VC of HR at ACC, Torrico says her goal is to sustain and continue to improve the HR services we provide while implementing a strategic long-term plan to ensure ACC is able to achieve and sustain its desired future state by capitalizing on our strong reputation as an employer.
“I aim to lead by example through how I organize and manage my team and our work.”
Torrico says her path to ACC was not a traditional one. She describes herself as one of the thousands who flocked to Austin for a better quality of life in the aftermath of the pandemic. As a result, she has first-hand knowledge of what many employees are looking for in their careers — opportunities that compensate them financially and allow them enough freedom to be a person first.
“Like so many colleagues I’ve spoken with across our campuses, I really feel like ACC found me. I faced many unique challenges which equipped me with a unique skillset that is both deep and broad. I previously experienced burnout and — what I refer to as — workplace trauma, especially while supporting Soldiers deployed with combat units in the Army and as a regional administrator supporting psychiatric hospitals in high-need communities during the pandemic. The most important takeaway from those experiences, aside from developing as a professional, is my ability to really appreciate what we have here at ACC. Not only do we serve a great mission to our students and community, but we get to work alongside people who are all different, yet who share our goals and values.”
We asked Torrico about her biggest takeaways in the first two months as Vice Chancellor of HR.
“At ACC, I feel empowered by our culture and leadership to take care of myself and to encourage my team to do the same. In order to be the best organization we can be for our students, we have to fill our cups,” she says. “We’ve got everything we need right here to answer the needs of our current and future employees. This HR team is deeply knowledgeable, incredibly resilient, highly motivated, passionate, and undoubtedly full of potential and drive to excel. I am grateful for their warmth and acceptance, appreciative of their honesty and candor, and in awe of their flexibility and high orientation for learning and growth.
I’ve also learned that this college and our customers ‘get’ it. The many strengths and handful of opportunities we have as an organization and employer are well articulated — not only by our employees and associations but our administration as well. It’s a privilege to work with individuals who I already had respect for having seen the depth of their expertise and passion in their areas of leadership. I’m honored and excited to lead the team that will be champions for individual and organizational health in our community.”
In our next conversation with Torrico, we explore her priorities and goals for the months ahead including a special project called Eight Point People Vision.
View a video message from Torrico below.