Terilyn Juarez Monroe

Chief People Officer and Senior Vice President, People & Places at Varian

People Success Insight:

Creating an inclusive workplace environment where everyone feels individually recognized, respected and valued for who they are in their entirety – not just their company role.

Terilyn Juarez Monroe, the chief people officer and senior vice president of people and places at cancer-care technology company Varian, travels the globe in an effort to translate the company’s business strategy into a people and culture strategy. An important part of that strategy is to foster a unified, inclusive workforce based on respect so everyone can bring their best selves to work every day. It’s a values-based mission fueled originally by her parents, who, she says, “sacrificed everything” for their family.

Terilyn’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Central America. He knew no English and gave up a career in accounting. But he met Terilyn’s mother, and the two of them worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for Terilyn and her sister. Their father eventually became a senior manager at a recycling company, while their mother worked two jobs. And their grandparents contributed, too, doing night-shift facilities-management work in office buildings. Terilyn and her younger sister would often accompany her grandparents, doing homework on the office-building stairs as they worked. 

Terilyn learned from her parents’ and grandparents’ hard work that everyone has a story—and is far more than the persona they bring to their job every day. As a result, she believes strongly that an organization’s people strategy begin with empathy and creating a culture of belonging.

“Unless you’re open to discovering who people are as individuals and what’s important to them and why, you just never know how far they have come to get to where they are working for your company,” Terilyn says. “You can never unlock the power of diverse perspectives and innovative thinking.”

“My favorite word is ‘inspiration.’ My job, my team’s job, every leader’s job is to inspire people. Starting with emotional connections, an exciting vision and a focus on creating the best possible experience for people is key.”

A successful people and culture strategy is built on a deep understanding of employees, no matter their background, she says. When an organization not only acknowledges but also lifts up the multiple dimensions of diversity of their employees, and creates an inclusive environment, they can accelerate innovation for customers and ultimately business growth, according to Terilyn. 

Terilyn’s own career and life paths intersected when she was presented with the opportunity to assume the chief people officer role at Varian in October 2017. Her mother had passed away from cancer a few years prior. The confluence of her personal story and values, Varian’s mission, and her passion for driving transformational change enriches the meaning of the work she does every day. She recognizes that everyone at Varian—employees, customers and the patients that together they serve—is living out their purpose through their association with the company’s vision of a “world without fear of cancer.” 

“Everyone is in the midst of their personal hero story—even if they’re not necessarily talking about it at work,” Terilyn says. “Were my hard-working parents and grandparents living their dream? It might be easy to assume that they weren’t. But their dream was the next generation— my sister and me. They were really selfless, pouring everything they had into making sure we would live the lives they dreamed of for us. That’s the same value I bring to work every day to my team. At the end of the day, for me it’s about what we are doing for others and making the world around us a better place for those who will follow.”

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