I recently had the opportunity to meet Jan Harmon from HOK Los Angeles. I was immediately struck by her thoughtful demeanor and kindness. She has a fantastic sense of humor and an amazing smile to match it. I’d love to kidnap her and have her around all the time! Needless to say, she has a place to stay/visit any time she’s in DC!
Here is your opportunity to learn about Jan Harmon, beautiful, inspiring woman of HOK:
1. What is your role at HOK?
I am Human Resource Manager of the LA office and a member of the LA Management Committee.
2. How did you come to HOK and why have you stayed?
I answered an ad from the LA TIMES—that’s back in the days when all job ads were posted in newspapers and people actually read them. I needed to support my husband while he was at UCLA working on a PhD. Grad school went on longer than I thought, we had a kid, and before I knew it I realized what an incredible place HOK is. Now it’s over 24 years later and I have loved how I’ve been able to do my core job and do other things I love. I told HOK I wanted to start a university recruiting program—no problem; I told HOK that in order to recruit at more senior levels, I needed to get involved in professional boards—sure, go do it; I told HOK that in order to raise the level of awareness of HOK in the community, I needed to get involved in community groups and events—done; I told HOK I really wanted to emphasize staff development and even teach Lunch + Learns—no limits there; I told HOK that I thought we should give away a car to reward and retain good staff—the Prius raffle took place last year. I just haven’t had anyone put on the brakes. This is so much more than a job. I can’t wait to hit my 25 year mark next summer. Although just a milestone it will represent the 25 best years of my work life; ever.
3. Was there ever a time you wanted to leave?
Oh, I’ve had my days. My best tip for those days when you want to scream…I spend a few minutes after work updating my resume. I list all the “wonderful“ things I’ve done that others may not have noticed. By the time I’m done, I have it off my chest and start laughing, ready to deal with the next challenge that comes my way. I probably have one of the most polished resumes in the world; but it’s been a great release and has helped me keep things in perspective; and I’ve never had to send it out!
4. What are some of the funniest HR moments you’ve had?
For the longest time, I couldn’t bring myself to watch “The Office” on TV. I felt like I live that life every day, fortunately not to the extreme of the show. I think I could write an episode based on summer interns—over the years it’s been interesting to see them make the transition from school to work—appropriate dress, learning that we do actually start work before noon, and watching episodes of TV shows at our desks or making out with another intern in the copy room aren’t the biggest career boosters in the world; but I love working with young people and helping them work out a career path for themselves. They are a huge boost to us—they come in with fresh ideas and contagious energy and work very hard—they make us better and keep us all young.
5. What is the best personal or professional trip you’ve ever taken – where and why?
Summer of 2008—my husband and I met up with our son who was in South Africa finishing up a semester abroad from Berkeley. Ben played tour guide for us as we travelled all over South Africa together. The country is an interesting mix of geographic beauty, political and social history, great music/food/wine, and amazing people who were so friendly and welcoming. I’ve been reading about the place ever since–Mother to Mother by Sindiwe Magona, Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, and works of Desmond Tutu.
This interview was part of our ongoing series on Women Across HOK. For more inspirational stories, click here.