Excellence in HR Awards Honorees: Jennifer Harrold
Meet Jennifer Harrold, Vice President, HR, at Office Depot
Jenn Harrold, VP HR at Office Depot is an experienced change leader who translates business vision into HR initiatives, creating and influencing environments to produce results, improving performance and employee engagement.
Favorite Quote: “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” — James Joyce
Fun Fact: Played rugby in college.
How do you unwind after a long day of work? I take my dog Toby for a long walk.
What challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them? Leading my team and supporting leaders and the organization through various mergers and acquisitions has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding periods in my career. I focus my team and the business on controlling what can be controlled and remaining focused on our objectives, while remaining nimble enough to respond to the unexpected.
What has been the most monumental moment of your career thus far? Simply watching my team grow and take on greater levels of responsibility is most rewarding to me.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? My dad has always challenged me to keep improving and keep learning. He would always say, ‘when you’re the smartest person at the table, you’re at the wrong table.’
What qualities make for an outstanding HR professional? Objective, great communicator, passion for development and learning, trustworthy, self-aware, and a sense of humor
How have you adapted your HR skills to COVID? Leveraging interpersonal skills and relationships to drive effective collaboration as we all navigated unchartered territory together. Leveraging critical thinking and problem solving skills to develop real-time solutions for new and different challenges. Skills like resilience and adaptability were challenged in new and different ways as my teams and I worked night and day to keep our organization operating and our associates safe.
What are some misconceptions about HR and how do you combat them? I most often hear that HR takes care of “personnel issues” or “helps associates”. While HR professionals certainly do address associate concerns and help mitigate issues, that is merely one facet of the job. The role of HR is much bigger than this. It’s critical for HR professionals to have an understanding of the business strategy and balance the needs of associates with the goals of the business. When HR can translate business vision into HR initiatives, we add tremendous value and enable people and teams to produce results, improving performance and employee engagement.
What do you like most about working in HR? The role of HR is ever-changing to make things better for people, teams and organizations. When dealing with people, the work is much more dynamic and many times we face the unexpected or unplanned. I like the idea of not always knowing what the day will bring. In HR, you may find yourself working on new approaches for people development, new technologies and tools, or developing new process improvements to help the company reach its objectives. The variety is energizing!