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Celisse Sauceda

Executive Director, Production Employee Relations and HRBP, Lionsgate

Thank you for talking to us today, Celisse. Can you please tell us about your role at Lionsgate?

Absolutely. I am responsible for managing Global Human Resources and Employee Relations across the Lionsgate Theatrical Group, and Lionsgate and Starz Television Productions. I provide harassment prevention training and conduct investigations, deliver expert advice to leaders on organizational design and all employee matters including DE&I, leader effectiveness, change management, and learning & development opportunities. I have over 15 years of HR experience, with 10 years focusing on building the HR function for production teams by creating opportunities for change and cultivating relationships.

Did you always want to work in Human Resources?

When I was a child, I dreamt of owning and operating a female-led auto repair shop; however, in college, I took a business management course that reviewed the role of HR, and I’ve been hooked ever since! I thoroughly enjoy being a go-to resource for employee questions and now serving as a strategic partner to corporate and production employees, I know this is what I was made to do.

Why did you gravitate towards Employee Relations?

I feel fortunate that I’ve had a wide array of experience and have worked in almost every facet in HR but I thrive as a strategic Business Partner and Employee Relations Partner. My broader experience has helped me feel comfortable in environments that change often.

How important is diversity, equity, and inclusion to you, both personally and as a professional in the HR function?

As a Latina in Los Angeles, DE&I is incredibly important to me. Representation should matter to all of us because I feel that all boats rise when we lift each other up. I grew up in a family of automotive workers whose highest level of education was high school so I was tasked with “breaking the mold” via school and hard work. I worked two jobs while attending school full-time to pay for tuition and books. Now that I’m in a position where I can advocate for more representation, it’s at the forefront of everything I do. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given throughout my career and look forward to paying it forward while encouraging and supporting our future Latino leaders!

What do you think the 3 most important keys to your success have been? 

Hard work, resilience and empathy are what I lead with in every facet of my life and work!

  1. Hard work. It takes hard work to learn a skill, and practice to keep that skill relevant. I never stop working hard. 
  2. Resilience. Being resilient in an ever-changing landscape, whether at work or personally, keeps you nimble to make changes with ease. 
  3. Empathy. Having empathy allows me to look at things from a different perspective. It has helped me build better relationships from a place of understanding.

Tell us about your experience with AWE Accelerator? How has being a part of AWE changed how you show up to work everyday? 

I absolutely loved being part of the AWE Accelerator program! The coaches are incredibly smart individuals who challenge you in the best ways and they provide tools to build your brand, network, become a better storyteller, refine your executive presence and be more confident as a woman executive! The lessons are practical and easy to implement. The connections I’ve made will last a lifetime. Every session was great, but my favorite was ‘Art of Networking’. Interestingly, for an extrovert who can make friends wherever I go, I get very intimidated when attempting to meet people in professional settings. However, the tools provided through AWE Accelerator were very helpful and I began using them immediately. I use them whenever I’m at a work event and have made many new connections.

What fuels you?

My motivating force is the idea of who I want to be; a smart, professional, talented, and trusted business woman who garners the trust of my partners and exceeds expectations in everything I do. It’s a tall task but when I achieve what I set out to do, it’ll be the most rewarding feeling.

Can you tell us something interesting that we can’t find listed on your resume? 

Something you won’t find on my resume is my love for desserts! I absolutely love cakes, cookies, candies, and pretty much anything sweet! Sometimes I bake them myself but I would prefer to try a locally-owned bakery. Most of my travel adventures are centered around local cuisine, with an emphasis on desserts. I talk passionately about my favorite desserts and have been told I should have a blog or TV show centered around my food adventures.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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