September 16, 2020

OHM Advisors: Meet our Experts Series

Kelly Jackson, Director of Human Resources

Quick Facts about Kelly

  • Title: Director of Human Resources
  • Birthplace: Northwest Detroit
  • Years in the Industry: 25+
  • Office Location: Livonia, MI
  • Fun Fact: Owned a consulting business

We caught up with Kelly for a few moments during her busy schedule to chat about her work as the Director of Human Resources, her time as an entrepreneur and her family role as Chief of Comic Relief.

Why human resources? What would you be doing if you didn’t work in this field?

My first position at the firm was in accounting, but I found that I didn’t interact a lot with people when I actually wanted to. So, I asked to do HR-focused tasks. That was a much better fit for me, and I decided to pursue my degree in the field while working full-time at the firm.

Since the firm didn’t have a dedicated HR department, I went to the then-president and pitched one. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “What took you so long?” And then gave me the resources I needed to start one. It taught me a valuable lesson early in my career that you must always advocate for yourself. At the time we had about 60 employees, and now we have over 500.

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably still be an entrepreneur. At one point I worked part-time and had a consulting business on the side in HR, management training and the like. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. And figuring out how to make things work energizes me.

What professional accomplishment experience will you always remember, and why?

Building the firm’s HR department from the ground up. I had great support from leadership and managers and a desire to work hard. I feel the same way about helping start the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts in 2017 and now really being in the thick of developing the program further. It’s all hard work, but everything is. You always have to continue to push forward.

What’s the most important quality in a person, and why?

Compassion. It bleeds over into everything else—like honesty, integrity, communication and more. I firmly believe that if a person’s heart is in the right place, people will not only see it, but they will feel it. Like Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

List a few adjectives that describe you.

My friends tell me I’m inspiring. I’d say I’m direct, and funny.

I’m the joker of the family. My mom and dad raised me to be assertive and always speak my mind. That resulted in me always saying what everyone else was thinking—usually in a funny way. That didn’t always please my more conservative grandmother! But I think my family appreciates my humor and candor.

Tell us about a professional goal you aspire to achieve in the next five years.

To continue evolving the HR department and leave it strong with my successor someday. My team and I are working on a lot of important initiatives. I hope we can make a difference inside the firm and in our industry. I want to play my part well and make a lasting contribution.

What do you look forward to most in your industry?

I look forward to the industry making more significant strides concerning women and minorities being offered equity in leadership opportunities. It’s all about education, awareness and the willingness to progress into the future. We still have a long way to go.

You’ve got one day totally free from it all. What will you do?

Travel to a place on the water! My last vacation was to a city on Lake Michigan. And working at home during COVID, I’ve been spending time with my laptop at a lake near my house. Being near the water changes your whole outlook.

If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone, who would it be?

Oprah. I have always admired her ability to build a strong brand, evolve professionally and connect with people from all walks of life. I would selfishly want to pick her brain and learn from her.

Read more about Kelly and the work she does in Human Resources and as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leadership team member at OHM Advisors.