Interns into executives: an interview with Brenda Kirk, part 2

In part one of this series, we talked to Brenda Kirk – senior vice president of corporate strategy and product for Hyland and chair of the board for the MetroHealth Foundation – about what path she followed to become an executive in the tech world.

Now, we’re going to discuss what she’s learned as a leader.

6. If you had one word to describe your time at Hyland, what would it be?

Transformational. Before coming to Hyland, I didn’t know, or have any exposure to, or respect for, the power technology can have in changing the lives of so many people.

I really believe that we have the potential to continue to do that forever. Before, I didn’t understand the power of technology. I also didn’t understand the power of a culture like Hyland’s, where you put the people first, and you put the customer first, and you can actually make a difference in the world.

All those components together has really been a transformational thing. I now understand and respect technology in ways that I never even knew were possible. In life, working for an organization that supports families, and friends, and the people who are our customers, is really powerful.

My kids will tell you. They grew up at Hyland, and it’s a part of their extended family. That’s a transformational thing.

7. What does #HylandLife mean to you?

For me, it represents the impact we can have on the world. So #HylandLife tends to take on a little bit more of the social culture, where you have trusted relationships, both inside these walls and outside of them. Of course, #HylandLife might mean something as simple as the people you choose to spend time with outside of work who also share the same employer.

It also means our whole family is literally an extension of one another. So whether we are at home with our natural families, and those who are related to us by blood, or you’re here, it kind of becomes one, it all sort of starts to blend. It really does feel like one big family.

We said, many moons ago, our employees are our family, and that is the epitome of what #HylandLife is. For me, it is actually true, but it is also true for those folks who I am not related to. I think one of the things that epitomizes #HylandLife more than anything, is actually Hylanders4Hylanders. Nothing really says it more than that. The program is a relief fund that allows employees to make charitable donations to assist coworkers in times of need. This is “by employees, for employees” and created in response to employee feedback. It shows our core value of “employees are our family” is very real around here.

No matter who you are or what your need is, we are here for you. I feel that not only professionally but also personally, and that that makes coming to work even easier than it already is. When you love what you do, and love the people that you do it with, that is special. That’s #HylandLife.

… Well, that and food trucks.

8. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I grew up here, so the most rewarding part of my job is watching our success have such a positive impact on the community. And then you see the impact of our solutions in the community – whether that’s through the local city hall, at our county hospital or at the university down the road – and how we are changing the way organizations in our community can work. We are doing that all around the globe, and that’s a powerful thing.

It is about taking what we have as a little family here, and watching it go into the community around us. Whether that’s through corporate giving, the solutions that we create or the solutions that we deliver out into the world, it’s an awesome feeling.

9. Do you think there is one characteristic every good female leader possesses?

One characteristic that every leader possesses is loyalty. I am a huge fan of walking the walk and really leading by example. I wouldn’t ask others to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. I think that that’s a very important part of leadership.

The characteristic of loyalty is something that I find to be particularly present with women in leadership. I don’t know if it’s a maternal thing, but you tend to have a stronger sense of loyalty to a team, or the work that you’re doing or the teams that you’re leading. There’s that level of loyalty that I think is very important. Once you step through that, the next level of loyalty is really to the company and the company’s interests.

I think as you progress through the leadership ranks, you have a lot of opportunities to flee the coop, so to speak. The grass may seem greener on the other side, but to watch what your team goes through to support you and how you support your team, I think that’s what loyalty is all about.

It’s a lot more difficult for women to feel like it’s okay to be loyal and to stay where they want to stay versus doing the next thing that might come up for them. If it’s a new opportunity, and it’s one step above or has more pay, there’s this artificial pressure, so you feel like you have to take it. I feel like our society creates that culture and  it’s totally fabricated.

When you find loyalty, it shines beautifully. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you set a much more powerful example when you are a strong leader who stays loyal.

10. What piece of advice would you give your intern-aged self?

Slow down.

I think that the piece of advice I would give to my intern-aged self would be to slow down and learn more, listen more and appreciate that you have time. You don’t have to get it all done today. That certainly wasn’t my experience.

I really believe that every minute is as precious as the one that has just passed, so I tend to shove as much stuff into there as I can, but now I can’t do that because I am old and I get tired. Us old people, we need naps. But yes, if I could go back and do it again, I would slow down, learn more and hurry less.

We’d like to thank Brenda and all the other executives who’ve taken the time to talk with us. It’s been very insightful.

Join us next time, when we talk to Susan deCathelineau, Hyland’s vice president of Global Healthcare Sales & Services.

Marin Kirk & Taylor Salamone

Marin Kirk is an intern in Hyland's Corporate Communications group. She is about to be a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati. Taylor Salamone is a Corporate Communications intern at Hyland for the summer of 2017, concentrating on Public Relations. She is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, studying marketing, international business, and writing for the professions. Taylor is actively involved with rowing and her coed professional business fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi. In her free time, she enjoys singing in the shower and consuming copious amounts of ice cream.

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