Cheryl Green, Chief People Officer at SSCP Management Inc, has more than 20 years of combined experience in formulating, directing, and implementing the HR strategy for SSCP Management, its restaurants, and the Support Center.
She oversees all facets of the human resource department, including communication, hiring, onboarding, payroll, and benefits, and collaborates closely with the President and other members of the executive leadership team, to provide strategic human resources leadership, ensure compliance with all relevant laws, and regulations, and deliver accurate and effective HR services to the organization.
SSCP Management (sscpmanagement.com) is a multi-award-winning restaurant and real estate company that is family and minority owned and operated. They began operating in 1995 as a Burger King franchise and went on to acquire a significant portion of Applebee’s markets. They have grown immensely since then, and now actively manage a robust portfolio, from fast food to fine dining concepts. Today, SSCP and/or its affiliates currently own/operate 80 Applebee’s, 43 Sonic Drive-Ins, are the parent company of Roy’s, a fine dining establishment, the Franchise owner of 278 Cicis Pizza, and own a variety of retail malls, apartment complexes, and other real estate interests.
Over two decades of growth with SSCP
Cheryl recalls that the beginning of her career happened by accident. She was a newly single mother with four children to care for. She joined SSCP as the receptionist to an office staff of four “After applying, I remember getting a call to interview with the person I would be replacing. I interviewed with her and was rejected. The same day I received the rejection letter in the mail, the Controller at the time called me to see if I was available for another interview, and the rest is history. So, this job WAS for me… I didn’t plan to be here this long, and I was not thinking about a career; I was just looking for a job to feed my children. I had no idea how it would all turn out, but I happened to be in the right place. I’ve always said that our founder, Sunil Dharod, must have seen something in me I didn’t see in myself,” she says.
Over the years, Sunil encouraged Cheryl’s growth and valued her perspective. As she progressed through multiple levels within the company, they built a professional relationship and became great friends. Next spring will be her 23rd year with SSCP and the Dharod family.
Cheryl has always believed a divine purpose brought her to SSCP and created an opportunity for her to impact the lives of others. As someone who is passionate about outreach work through her church and own ministry, G.R.A.C.E (Gracefully Rising Above Challenges Everyday) her joy for what she does can’t be hidden when she speaks…
“I’m incredibly proud of all we’ve accomplished. My professional position aligns with what my heart does in ministry, which is to care for and nurture people. All of who I am is woven into every arena of my life. My focus has always been on doing the best job that I can do, to be the best asset I can be, and have faith the rest will come. And it has!” Cheryl proclaims.
SSCP plans to buy and build more restaurants and acquire more real estate, both for their current and new brands. Cheryl intends to be front and center for the continued growth! First and foremost, by remaining a trusted resource and providing exceptional career opportunities. Her focus continues to be on fostering an environment where team members at all levels of the business can develop and thrive, because they all know that they belong.
Leading with integrity & innovation
“Integrity is one of our Core Values at SSCP. Trust is the foundational pillar of our culture, and we believe is a byproduct of our integrity. Trust and transparency are imperative for any organization to continue to thrive,” she states. “I’ve found that when we lead with integrity, innovation naturally follows. If our teams believe in our mission and vision, and we as leaders, are the standard bearers, there is room for new, critical, and creative thinking.”
SSCP always strives to give its customers the greatest experience possible by offering excellent meals and first-rate service with the aim of making their guests leave with a desire to come back for more. SSCP invests in the areas where it conducts business by helping individuals in need and collaborating with other charities to make a positive impact in their communities.
Cheryl also explains that SSCP uses multiple avenues to stay in tune with competitors. First and foremost, they visit and research competitors often and encourage each brand leader to initiate their own research as well.
She points out how the “new” or “trendy” brands often struggle to sustain themselves in changing markets. These emerging brands are not “battle tested” and many of them fail to grow. SSCP is fortunate to have four brands with decades of proven experience that have been successful in many different economic cycles and geographies.
SSCP also ensures that all the checks and balances are in place to keep people honest. Cheryl notes that when you have a history of being consistent, transparent, and being accountable to yourself and for others, people trust you, and that’s important.
“How you treat those nearest and dearest to you is your relationship resume for how you treat others”– Pastor Reginald Reynolds
Cheryl appreciates that technology can be an incredible resource in HR. Talent acquisition algorithms save time by pre-selecting qualified candidates. Mobile onboarding platforms ensure all necessary compliance, tax, and demographic information is collected and housed, without having the eye sore and loss of space that comes with paper filing systems.
While there are benefits, conversely, technology can also take the personal touch out of these important processes and become a crutch versus a tool. Cheryl feels that some companies rely too heavily on tech and lose the “human” piece of the HR function.
Keeping the ‘Human’ in HR
Current SSCP President and 2nd generation leader, Chris Dharod explains, “We are a family company in so many ways. Most people don’t know that SSCP represents the first initials of each of the founding family members: Sunil, Sharmila, Chris, and Puja. When my dad started the company, he always instilled in us that our culture reflects that our teams are family. I feel so blessed with the friendships that we have formed at SSCP, and those friends have become extensions of my family. We are the healthiest restaurant company I know of, and I couldn’t be prouder of that. We have a team of leaders that exceed the level of every comparable brand.”
As the Chief People Officer of SSCP Management, Cheryl admits that for her, a regular day just doesn’t exist, and that her days are often determined by what is happening in real time, in the field, or with ever-changing legislation.
While the company has a structured schedule of department and brand meetings, providing the right support requires active engagement with day-to-day situations and circumstances. Her professional commitment is for her department to be both a resource, and a safe place for over 5,000 employees.
Sometimes that means researching and meeting with new benefit providers, updating processes and policy, or advising on employee relations. Cheryl notes that her days and nights are always different, mostly never-ending, and for her, that’s part of the excitement.
Some of her responsibilities include:
- People – Being able to change and evolve to each person’s needs.
- Process – Outline how people work and identifying the workflow.
- Partnerships – Bringing in the right talent to ensure the team has the best opportunity for success.
- Programs – Creating, Organizing, Implementing, and Analyzing initiatives.
“I’m not your ordinary “check-off-the-list” HR person, I provide a different type of human touch. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for people, especially young women because I was one once,” Cheryl explains. “I think what makes me different is the fact that I can relate to what ordinary people go through. It’s more about the person than the position. It’s difficult to be effective if you are in distress. So, Cheryl has learned when to switch from being task-focused to creating space for the person who needs a human in that moment. Sometimes, that requires taking care of the person first and the business second. Being in this position has allowed me to humbly walk in that space and try to serve and support people as best I can.”
Building a culture where people know they belong and matter.
Recalling some of the roadblocks that taught her valuable lessons in her professional journey, Cheryl notes that one of them was learning how and when to react, based on situations and circumstances that arose daily.
In situations that pulled on her heart strings, she learned to ensure she was always dealing with facts first. She insists that learning to hear what people say, and always looking for ways to bring people together, can reduce roadblocks by harnessing the power of the team, all working together in the same direction.
Cheryl also highlights the importance of active listening, noting that as she’s matured, she’s learned to listen well, and truly be in tune with other by to reading between the lines.
“I’ve learned to listen to what people are not saying, to know what they’re really saying. A lot of times, it’s the people who don’t come to you that really have the problem, so I try to be present. Strong, independent people are not ones to ask for help. So sometimes you must know what people need and provide that,” she observes.
She believes that you cannot underestimate the impact you have on people when you take the time to listen and to learn from them. Cheryl values making people feel cared for as if each is the only one, making them feel that they belong here, that they are valued, and helping them realize the value and potential she sees in them.
“We don’t need a title to lead. We just need to care. People would rather follow a leader with a heart than a leader with a title” – Craig Groeschel
She maintains that all perspectives, beliefs, and backgrounds matter. Whether it’s representation through policies or when having a face-to-face conversation – each person is valuable. We are all born with different gifts and talents, which makes each of us individually unique. Everybody matters.
“I think the respect factor that we have within our leadership team is very special, and I don’t believe every organization has it. Such a sincere caring for and supporting of our people”, Cheryl remarks.
She shares that, while most HR people are not always easily accessible, she is! The organization from top to bottom knows that.
“Be where your feet are” – Scott O’Neil
Overcoming challenges to become a bright spot for people.
Cheryl believes that the outcome of challenges depends on your mindset and maturity. She notes that challenges bring about growth and innovation. They test your commitment to the goal or objective, and can often force you to reflect and adjust, which develops character.
Cheryl also believes that success has to do with perspective and looking at every challenge as an opportunity. You can always look to create solutions, provide a service, and leave the situation better than you found it.
She clarifies that success is not a destination. It’s a journey. It is not perfection. It doesn’t have to do with achieving or receiving things. It’s more about being at peace with where you are and understanding what’s important.
“I am the oldest of seven siblings. My parents divorced when I was young, and I grew up in a small town.” Cheryl recalls, “Watching my mom as a single parent work hard to provide for us, while being a source of joy and a resource for support to so many, was remarkable. Her ability to adjust and adapt to any situation that came her way is something I think I learned from her. To this day, she remains my inspiration and motivation.”
But even after she a life the life, she thought she wanted; Cheryl still felt like there was something missing. “Fresh out of high school, I was a young wife and mother. It appeared that I had everything, but I didn’t feel it,” she admits.
Around this time, my daughter got spinal meningitis and almost died. Eventually I brought my baby home, but many mothers in our unit did not. I realized immediately life wasn’t about things, it was about the people I loved and who depended on me. This changed my way view on life, period” Cheryl affirms.
Cheryl eventually went through a divorce, had to get a job, and manage to support her kids on $16,000 annual income. “I was asking myself – as a mom, what am I supposed to do now?” She recalls a moment after accepting the offer to join SSCP when her dad told her, ‘You need to be an asset and not a liability.’ “To me that meant, go add value and help people, so that’s what I did.”
She acknowledges that navigating being a single mom and learning to find herself at the same time was the hardest thing she has ever been through. “Sometimes we don’t get what we want when we want it because we aren’t ready for it.” Fast forward to the present Cheryl, and husband Pastor Jessie Green III enjoy a beautiful life with their 6 children and 10 grandchildren.
Today, her belief is that success is the ability to make choices that are not just connected to achieving things but come from a place of wanting to create something better. Success is really living, rather than just existing. Cheryl’s humility shines through as she defines herself as a servant.
“That may not be what you expected to hear, but it’s the truth. I serve the people I love, the community, our restaurants, and our leadership teams. I have been fortunate enough to lead on multiple stages, as a mother, grandmother, pastor’s wife, and mentor, as well as within the community, and throughout our organization. I feel it is my calling to care about and for people with the Love of God,” she proclaims.
Cheryl points out that you never really know everything others are experiencing, or everyone you will impact. “I don’t really look for recognition. I know that, just in my behavior and what I do every day, I’m making an impact.”
“I’m just trying to be a bright spot for people, and I think that’s what this HR role is about – for me to create a space where people can learn and develop, both personally and professionally.” Cheryl says. “All I hope to do is make a positive impact. When I see that happening, knowing I’ve made a difference in the lives of others; that is the recognition.”
However, she does appreciate hearing about how a person feels supported or empowered by something she did; or that she made someone feel better; being called a Shero; or receiving a message from an employee letting her know what a difference she made to them, in a room with hundreds of people, where not everyone is publicly recognized.
I think if everybody could, they would work for me” she jokes, “That’s what they tell me anyway.”
“A problem is just purpose in disguise” – Jovan Glasgow
A firm focus on faith, family, and finances
For Cheryl, ‘Faith, Family, and Finances’ are her three most important priorities in terms of work/life balance. She notes that balance is something she has been working on for years. Her professional position allows her the flexibility to manage all her responsibilities, and her leadership team understands what’s important to her and respects that.
“I am very fortunate. My family and I are very active in our community, I have been blessed to work for a leader who values family the same way I do. I believe in being fully present in any situation I am in. My family deserves the best of me; my team deserves the best of me. I found the best way to accomplish that is if I take everything in stride,” Cheryl declares.
Cheryl insists that her support system is huge, and it’s not just her family, because she has a support system at work too. This is also why she appreciates working in a place where the company values and morals are aligned with her own and they agree that family is everything.
Cheryl has an open-door policy at work, and because of all they’ve had to deal with coming out of COVID, she wants to make sure that the mindset of the people around her is solid. She wants to highlight other people and make them feel special; providing as many pieces of their puzzle as possible, so they can be whole and enjoy life.
“COVID did a lot of damage and people lost a lot. I try to make sure that my team is in a good head space and do my best to send out an encouraging email every morning. To come to work, you must be able to function, and work is very important to me. I’ve had some shattering things happen, in my life, but my job, my faith, my family, has all given me a purpose. All that I have, God gave to me,” she insists.
“For me, the dye has been cast, I don’t seek out positions, promotions, plaudits or popularity. I do my best to live by faith, walk with patience, and labor with love. During my 22 years of service, the road has sometimes been narrow, the way rough, but I have persevered.” Her mission has been clear, she has not flinched in the face of sacrifice, hesitated in the presence of adversity, negotiated at the pool of popularity, or meandered in the mass of mediocracy.
“The people will be my legacy. My goals are to continue to build a culture where people KNOW they belong and where I can continue to raise the bar on how we treat our people. This final piece of advice for anyone aspiring to be an effective HR leader, is this: “Genuinely care, because caring will always be the key.”
“Take care of what is required of you and everything else you care about will take care of itself.” – James Fowler (My Father)