Women Across HOK | Penny Malina

Meet Penny Malina!

Meet Penny Malina!

Penny Malina to the rescue… at least that is how I feel about Penny. She saves me from my “frienemy”, the computer (or technology in general), on a daily basis. Penny is an integral part of HOK’s IT Force… and the road that led here there is certainly an unconventional one. Her previous life / experience gives her the perfect balance and personality to not just understand computers, but the people who can’t quite figure out how to use them. (And, did I mention she is a major contributor to the success of HOK’s Diversity Task Force???) 

Penny’s giving spirit, positive attitude, and solution-driven thinking make this VP one of my favorite women at HOK. I hope you enjoy getting to know Penny better!

 Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of related to the Diversity Task Force?

We did a slide show called “Did you know” a couple of years ago, the idea was to have a slide for every person in the office, telling their hobbies, and showing a picture or two of them away from HOK.  The intention was to get people to know the folks they work with every day a little better.  I set out to get 100% participation, and everyone said it couldn’t be done.  When we got down to the last holdouts, I just showed them a few of the finished slides, and told them they would of course want to be a part of this! …..We got almost every person to contribute their information and a picture….I think there were around 230 people out of 240 total that participated.  It was a great success.

Penny, Margaret, and Viola

Penny, Margaret, and Viola

 Q:  Who do you consider your mentors throughout your professional journey?

When I started at HOK, 15 years ago,  I didn’t know anything about architecture.  I was a CAD drafter before the days of BIM, and helped the architects get their ideas into the computer.  At that time, I had a wonderful symbiotic relationship with many of the architects, me teaching them computer, and them teaching me architecture… A few that stand out include Bill Odell, Bob Edmonds, and Rich Drozd.  Now that I am exclusively IT oriented, John Bartolomi is someone I value as a mentor very much.  Probably most of all, Susan Mitchell-Ketzes has been a tremendous inspiration.  I look to her as the vision of women leadership making a difference in our firm.

 Q:  How does the work you do make you feel?

I love my job.   I love figuring out solutions, and helping the creative people at HOK do their work.  I love being a part of every project we work on.  I love working with our clients and consultants to achieve better communication and collaboration.  HOK is very energizing for me, I look forward to the new challenges each day brings.

 penny at liz's birthday

 Q:  What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I don’t think many people know that my first career was owning and operating my own pawn shop for over 15 years before coming to HOK.  I was the first woman who was the sole owner of a pawnshop in the country.  The pawn shop business was very interesting, and I learned a lot about many things including musical instruments, jewelry, electronics, tools, antiques, and so forth.  My interaction with customers as a business owner and entrepreneur certainly helped prepare me for the service oriented approach I take in my work today.

 Q: Now that the ACR rooms have been rolled out in almost every office, who is the one person dead or alive that you would like to have a meeting with?

Absolutely I would like to meet and talk to Mark Knopfler.  He was the lead guitarist for Dire Straits, so most people remember him from Sultans of Swing and I want my MTV fame.  But he has released many solo albums in the past few years, and remains one of the most talented guitar players alive.  I would love to be able to talk to my mother again, she passed away 10 years ago this March.  I think she would be very proud to see me in my current iteration at HOK, and I would love to hear her tell me so.

Penny and Margaret in Florida

Penny and Margaret in Florida

 Q: Please predict one future IT trend:

More and more people have to be mobile and able to be in communication electronically.  I don’t think it will be long before we have videoconferencing and complete remote desktop capability available on smaller and more portable devices to allow people to be productive and engaged no matter where they are.  Most people have their best and most creative ideas away from offices, technology will allow them to capitalize on these moments instantly.  The world moves fast, and it is our job as IT people to make it easier for people to move with it.

This is part of HOK’s ongoing series highlighting inspirational women across the firm!

4 Comments
  1. March 22nd, 2010 - 10:02 am
    Emma said:

    Great taste in Mark Knopfler Penny – i love his music too!

  2. March 22nd, 2010 - 9:01 pm
    Mary Ann Lazarus said:

    Penny as pawnbroker….I can see it! She definitely always figures out a solution no matter what the challenge..and is wonderful to work with in doing so.

  3. March 24th, 2010 - 8:38 am
    Jan Harmon said:

    Penny is awesome and the best resource on any kind of music! Dedicated; caring…a true treasure at HOK.

  4. September 21st, 2011 - 5:34 am

    Penny is a smart – dedicated – witty individual. She loves life and her family and friends and music! I love her tremendously and HOK is extrmemyl lucky to have her as an employee!

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