Another installment in our series about the inspiring women of HOK (not to say that our men aren’t inspiring, too!): Meet Jeannette Thompson, Business Communications Specialist in the HOK Planning Group. While Jeannette calls St. Louis her home, she supports the HOK network throughout the world. You also know her as one of the Life@HOK blogstar team and future American Idol judge! Jeannette is a true superstar and I hope you enjoy getting to know her a bit better.
Q: What’s a typical day in the life of Jeannette Thompson?
A typical day involves a morning routine that is anything but typical, which is what happens when you are raising a family and working outside the home. In fact, if we have two days in a row where things go as planned, I would consider it a record. My husband travels a lot so often I am doing my best just to get all of us dressed and out the door on time. With a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old, getting out the door can either be smooth and easy or the hardest thing ever. Many times I feel as though I have lived two lives before I ever even make it into the office.
I like having lots going on at a time. That’s not to say that I like multi-tasking. I try hard every single day to give whatever I am doing at the moment the attention that it deserves. But that means having to very quickly have to shift to another subject, or need, or whatever it might be. So I think the important thing is intense focus on what’s at hand — doing the best you can do to anticipate what will come next and what might be needed so you can prepare and have time to get it all done or get help to get it done. Blocking time on a calendar by the day/week/month, trying to set realistic expectations and making lists are my strategies. And the key to everything is having a hobby that you love. Mine is sewing. Note: she’s amazing – can you imagine trying to create a “candy corn fairy” dress just days before Halloween? Superwoman Jeannette did it and had one happy fairy! She has also just finished up this year’s special Christmas pajamas! I suspect we’ll be seeing her on Project Runway in no time!
Q: Who or what inspires you?
I find inspiration pretty easily. Maybe too easily, because it has been said that I can get excited over what some might see as very mundane. But somewhere along the way I picked up the ability to enjoy even those little things and celebrate them. I think this is especially important in our world today. HOK’s relationship with the Biomimicry Guild has been particularly inspiring to me. Nature has it all figured out and we have so much to learn. The idea that we could apply that knowledge — the wisdom that could come from a creature smaller than my fingernail — to change the way we solve problems or even build cities, that is so powerful to me.
Q: What advice would you give to other young women looking to have it all?
I don’t know what I could offer that isn’t already written about in blogs, books and explored to the nth degree on Oprah. I guess knowing what your own “it all” is would be the best first step. For me, “it all” really centers around my family and the home that I want to make with them. That has definitely meant making choices about how, how much and where I work. Fortunately, I have had the incredible opportunity to explore those options here. I have been part-time at HOK for 10 years now. During that time I have been in grad school, had both of my children and even spent three years in Little Rock, Arkansas. Working in a flexible environment has given me the space to create the best balance that I can. My hope is that I will look back on this time with no regrets about not being there for them and I will have still had the opportunity to contribute to a profession that can make a positive difference in the world.
Q: What do co-workers say about you?
Well, I took a little survey to find out. I asked 10 people I’ve worked with from around the firm, from San Francisco to Toronto to Atlanta, to take 10 seconds to come up with one word about me. Here’s what they had to say (in order of how I received them). By the way, this was kind of fun and I recommend it if you need a laugh.
Editor’s note: I couldn’t agree more with Jeannette’s survey responses, and would like to add a couple more: kind, caring, and SUPER FLY!
This interview was part of our ongoing series on Women Across HOK. For more inspirational stories, click here.