René Torres began his “Nant journey” in 2013 as part of our parent organization’s Human Resource team. Currently, René serves as NantHealth’s Director of HR Operations, where he focuses on designing and delivering exceptional processes and services to meet the day-to-day requirements of our workforce. Most importantly, he makes our employees’ needs his number one priority while leading by example.
“René works tirelessly ensuring all HR operations run smoothly and was instrumental in the development and launch of the career framework project. He is a pleasure to work with,” team member Maaz Baqai said. Before joining the Nant ecosystem, René worked for the J. Paul Getty Museum foundation and also served in the US Air Force as military police.
HR and the Executive Leadership Team work hard to drive company culture and engagement. Why, in your opinion, is employee engagement important?
It might sound simple, but if you do the right thing and keep people happy, everything else falls into place. I could talk about how employee engagement improves retention, productivity, and ROI – which is true and important – but for me, it all starts with happiness. When I reflect on my own experience as an employee at NantHealth, there have been times when someone reached out actively to recruit me. Once I even received a job opportunity that was tempting because it would have meant a much shorter daily commute, but I decided to stay with my NantHealth family because I am happy here. I care about the people I work with, and I’m fortunate to work for an amazing leader.
Who inspires you, personally and professionally?
My grandma inspires me, or as we say in my family, mi abuelita. She wanted to leave the dangers and struggles from back home behind and provide a better opportunity for her children and future generations. My grandma made one the hardest decisions of her life and moved from Ecuador to the United States with just the clothes on her back, leaving her children, including my mother, behind and not knowing a lick of English. With the financial help of her siblings, my grandma was able to send for her son and daughter (my mom, who came to the Bronx at age 9). Though my grandmother remarried, she was not one to rely on someone else, and so, the independent woman that she is, she found employment as a seamstress. In her 50s, my grandmother went to college, learned English, and graduated in 1991. I was 11 years old. She then worked as an accountant for a hospital in New York, not too far from the World Trade Center. She became a citizen in 1999. Her persistence, her go get ‘em demeanor, her “it’s never too late” attitude inspire me to this day. I love my abuelita.
Why is workplace diversity important to you and the company?
It’s one thing to be good, but it’s another thing to be great, and diversity is the key to being great. Each one of us brings a unique perspective and life experience to the table, and in a company driven by innovation, this matters. Diversity is essential to our success. We achieve the best outcomes when we honor and leverage the collective perspectives, knowledge, and experiences of a diverse workforce.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The people. Everything the HR team does, everything we create or introduce at NantHealth, is for our people. We may not get it 100% right, but everything we do is with our PEOPLE in mind. I work with some of the greatest people on earth and couldn’t ask for anything better – because what’s better than the best?
What was your proudest moment, career or otherwise?
My proudest moments involve my family, and especially the achievements of my children. I feel most proud when my son Derek makes the honor roll or when my son Ethan graduated from high school and started college.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Did you take it?
When I joined the US Air Force, boot camp was one of the biggest challenges I had ever faced. I’ve never been the type of person who turns away from a challenge, which is what motivated me to enlist despite – and even because – people kept telling me they didn’t think I had what it took. By my third week of basic training, I began to think they were right. I couldn’t do it. My drill sergeant sent me to the chaplain, who let me call my dad. This was my first Christmas and New Year away from home, and hearing my dad’s voice meant the world to me. He told me that he was proud of me, had always been proud of me. To push through and not give up. He told me not to worry about showing everyone else that I could do it but to show myself that I could. This advice was important to me then and was the reason I completed boot camp and fulfilled my six-year enlistment, and it’s important to me now as I continue to struggle with public speaking. Whenever I get nervous about presenting or preparing for a presentation, I look back at his advice and tell myself that I can do it.
What three words best describe you?
Dedicated, Observant, Obsessive-Compulsive.
I hear you’re an avid reader. What are you currently reading? Do you have a recent favorite?
I love history, and so right now, I’m reading Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss. My recent favorite is Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist. What resonated with me about this book was how important work/life balance truly is. To be present for yourself and your family and that there is something perfect about imperfection.
If you could tell your 20-year-old self anything, what would it be and why?
As chaotic and out of order as your life may seem, you’re making all of the right moves, the right experiences, and the right choices. Continue to care for others, continue to enjoy life to the fullest, continue to seek more, learn more, play more. Oh and…. That girl you’ve got your eye on, Dennise, she’s going to be your wife someday, and she’ll be your happily ever after.