Bruce Waller’s HR Super Stars Series… Meet Rose Ann Garza!

Sharing Leadership Lessons in an interview with Bruce Waller…

10 Answers from HR Leaders that make a difference! 

I once heard Sara Blakely, (CEO Spanx) say, “The more you experience in life, the more you have to offer others.”  Today, I want for you to experience more by learning from some Super Stars serving in HR! I am inspired by people every day who model great leadership for others through their daily actions in human resources. These leaders have common threads that include empathy, love and care for people. They value people and the importance of relationship building.

In this HR Super Stars interview series, I want to introduce you to some of the best of the best in HR! These leaders make impact and will share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader and in their personal lives. My hope is each person will inspire you and challenge you to become more for others on your journey.  So, let’s get started and meet our HR Superstars!

Today, we are going to hear from Rose Ann Garza, Chief Human Resources Officer, Kerbey Lane Cafe and High Note. Rose Ann also serves on the leadership team for Texas SHRM State Council as the Assistant State Director – DD and CLA who supports our 33 SHRM Chapters across the great state of Texas!

Now, let’s here from Rose Ann…

  1. Where did you grow up?A very small town in South  Texas-Rio Hondo which means Deep River.  I grew up very close to the border, roughly 20 miles.  A largely Hispanic town (of less than 600 people) whose main career was farming and ranching.
  2. How did you get started in business/career? While working my way though college I waited tables, bartended and did international restaurant openings as a corporate trainer for Brinker International which lead to my passion for the restaurant and hospitality industry.  This job enabled me to grow and learn about other cultures and myself.  After college I sought jobs in the same industry, mostly because I loved the people and sort of knew the business, in hopes of learning the office end of the industry-specifically HR because I felt that was an area I could impact and improve upon.
  3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader? I think the largest life lesson I have ever learned I did not learn in my career, but it has impacted my career greatly.  My oldest sister is special needs, Down Syndrome, and I have learned in growing up with her that kindness and patience are key.  I learned to listen to a person to actually hear what they need from you and I learned that no matter how fast I may want to get through something I should consider the other persons feelings and agenda before powering through their needs.  I have learned more lessons than I can count from my sister but those are just a couple for now.
  4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose? In order to understand my answer, you must first understand that my “lane” is people.  I have always been an extrovert so it may not come as a surprise that I like people but for me working in actual restaurants was when I first found my lane.  I loved working side by side with my co- workers during some of the busiest shifts each week, taking care of the guests, anticipating their needs and making sure they left feeling heard, cared for and served beyond their expectation.  Being in HR for me is all about the service I give to our team-do they feel heard?  Do they feel someone cares for them?  Do they feel we have served them beyond their expectation?  Just as our team serves the guests who come to our restaurants it is my job to serve the team who work with us as my guests.  If they feel like we have taken the worries off their plate it is much easier to care for the guest and ultimately enjoy their job.
  5. What is your most valued achievement, and why? This has to be “hands down” when I was named Chief Human Resources Officer of Kerbey Lane (the largest privately owned and operated 39 year old family restaurant group in Austin).  I had been here with the company for a little over 11 years and in the history of the company (at that time 36 years) there had never been a non-family member named into a C suite role.  I was honored and flattered just as much then as I am to this day.  It is not a title I take lightly, and it is not an honor I easily forget.  It means the world to me that the leaders I respect so dearly deemed my work here worthy of such praise and ultimately trusted me to carry on their life’s work. 
  6. Is there any one person who inspired or mentored you along the way? There are too many to count!  I would definitely say there have been several-most of which I met through the Austin Human Resources Management Association and Texas SHRM. 
  7. Do you have a saying or creed that you live by? I have several-a quick and easy one is 10 two letter words.  “If it is to be it is up to me”.  I heard this years ago from a guest speaker at an FFA conference and it stuck due to the simplicity of it but also the impact it can have.  I also believe if something can be done in five minutes or less you should take the time and do it rather than put it off.
  8. What book(s) are you reading or audio to help grow your leadership right now? I love to read!  Some of my all-time favorites are: Braving the Wilderness-Brene Brown, Work Rules-Laszlo Bock, The Happiness Advantage-Shawn Achor
  9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader? I am a huge believer in meditation and continuing to educate myself through reading, conferences and joining organizations.
  10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey? Find a mentor.  Mentors have been one of the biggest advantages I have ever given myself.  Pick someone that respects you but will also push and challenge you. 

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights Rose Ann! Your interview is so inspiring!

Some of my takeaways include…Small towns are a great place to grow up! College is a great time to start thinking about your career, and restaurants are a great way to learn the importance of serving. Life lessons are all around us, and many times we learn from those that are the closest… Inspiring story about your sister and the impact she has made on your life. Love the “People Lane”! High impact is about serving people that serve the people! Great story about your past to CHRO… Such a great opportunity for you, and more importantly an opportunity to pave the way for others behind you. Mentors are all around us. We just need to have the courage to reach out as a mentor or a mentee. Love the 10 most powerful 2 letter words. Leadership starts with accountability! Brene Brown is one of my favorites… Looking forward to checking out Shawn Achor’s book as well as Laszlo Bock! Great disciplines give each day meaning and purpose. Thanks for sharing yours! Lastly, great advice… Mentors make impact — especially the ones that challenge you to reach your potential! This can be a game changer!

Thank you again, Rose Ann! We appreciate you letting us get to know you better as a leader in the workplace and as a leader for Texas SHRM. You are an HR Superstar and inspiration to many because of the way you model leadership for others in the HR community! I am honored to serve with you in the Texas SHRM community!

What are your takeaways? Please share in comments below and visit Texas SHRM to learn more about this wonderful organization representing HR professionals in the great state of Texas!

Congratulations to our HR Superstar, Rose Ann Garza! You are making a difference!

This interview was submitted by Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP, Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. If you have questions, or would like to recommend someone to be featured in Bruce Waller’s HR Superstars Series, call 972-389-5673 or email You can also sign up for the weekly blog and read in “A Relocation Minute” at

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