Executives’ Corner: An Interview with Transcend CAO, Adam Zagha

You first came to Transcend as a resident, how did you become an employee?

In 2009, my old roommate decided he was going to get sober and move into some sober living home owned by a man named Asher Gottesman. Following his initiative, I thought I too would give sobriety a try, and moved into this sober living house as their fifth client. I relapsed after a week and left the program. After a few attempts at maintaining sobriety on my own, I made a conscious and desperate decision to commit to my recovery in March 2010 and completed a 60-day treatment program. I then joined Transcend as a resident once again, but this time I worked an all-star program and maintained a daily routine of work, meetings, and house chores. After six months of living at the house, I became the live-in weekend manager, and was soon promoted to an assistant manager, and then finally the house manager.

How then did you transition into an executive role as the CAO?

After working in the house for some time, I had an opportunity to join the corporate team. I had a working knowledge of our program as a house manager, and am a detail-oriented and diligent person by nature when it comes to business. Though I really enjoyed managing the houses, I was looking for a new challenge professionally. From the business end, I thought I could really help the company run more efficiently- both systematically and financially. In a very short period of time working in the corporate office, I was able to gain the company significant savings and improve some of our systems just by giving them a thorough evaluation. Asher and the rest of the corporate team noticed my commitment and potential, and asked me to come on board as the Chief Administrative Officer.

What number employee were you?

When I started as a weekend manager I was Transcends employee #12. We now have over 150 employees throughout our various programs.

What is a brief description of what you do for the company?

As Chief Administrative Officer, I am responsible for the management of the inside of the company, the operational duties that people don’t often think about. I ensure that all of our behind the scenes systems (re: human resources, finances, etc.) are running smoothly and proficiently. My other duties include setting up and negotiating contracts with insurance companies, driving the logistical and operational responsibilities during an expansion, and managing relationships with investors and stake-holders. It’s not exactly a forward-facing role, but it is integral to the healthy functioning of the organization.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I really enjoy figuring out ways to make our companies run optimally, and have systems in place that provide a cost-saving. This allows us to grow and scale, and ultimately, provide better care for our clients. When I detect an internal problem, I see it as a great opportunity to refine our business practices and be better. Simply put, I’m a problem solver and I get to work on projects that challenge me to do that every day.

What do you think is an integral component of a successful company?

To reference the big book, Step 4 instructs us to take a personal inventory and periodically perform a personal house cleaning. A business that does well is constantly taking an inventory of themselves– which sometimes requires letting go of what’s not working. Fact-finding and fact-facing – it’s an effort to take stock. By being open to growth and change, we can disclose what is damaging us so that we can let it go and emerge healthier and more profitable. A successful company is persistently taking an honest look at itself, knowing that the work is never done. By doing that at Transcend, we ensure that we will never be the ones to stunt our own growth.

Fun Fact: 

At the age of 15, I studied a year abroad in Switzerland for my sophomore year of High School. I lived in the Swiss Alps in a town of 120 people. I would spend hours just snowboarding and exploring the mountains. Snowboarding is a major hobby of mine today!