The worldwide HARMAN team takes extreme pride in sharing the achievements of women across the world during International Women’s Week with a special Insights Series, featuring interviews with five dynamic women, working at HARMAN. As part of this Series, I enjoyed interviewing Melissa Rausch, Director of Talent Management for HARMAN’s Lifestyle Audio division. Melissa was asked to lead the HARMAN Women’s Network chapter at HARMAN’s Northridge, California office and has enjoyed the opportunity immensely. Here’s more of her story.
Q: Tell me about your role at HARMAN?
A: I have been with HARMAN almost four years and was the first person to have a talent management role in the Lifestyle Audio division. When I first started, I researched the real needs in the area. It involved listening and familiarizing myself with the people and the true needs of the business. I found the true needs resulted in finding creative ways to grow leaders. 75% of leaders at HARMAN are promoted from within, which means HARMAN has a great culture, all around, especially for harvesting leaders.
Q: You are nominated for being an outstanding woman employee. Tell us your story.
A: I started my career in manufacturing at Schlumberger and spent 16 years there. I was in HR for most of my career until I started at HARMAN. I loved HR because you get to see the company win and get to see the people win. You get a 360 degree view of the organization. This is something that has carried me throughout my career and has broadened my talents and opportunities to thrive.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Training horses, watercolor painting and volunteering within an organization to help people gain financial freedom through growing their skills in managing money. I feel that there is so much correlation between training horses and being a good leader. I also love helping and encouraging people to hone in on their skills for better money management.
Q: Tell me about some of the challenges of working in an industry that has a lower percentage of female employees.
A: I haven’t had many challenges as my colleagues and leaders have all been well intentioned. The only thing I can think of is my first trip to China, which was actually a funny story. The only other female coworker was not able to make it to a traditional Chinese dinner. It was just me and 12 men and I had never used chopsticks before and kept dropping my food. All of the men treated me well and made me feel comfortable. It’s a story that I still don’t live down to this day and luckily I am now much more adept at using chopsticks.
Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
A: I don’t feel that there are really any barriers to female leadership – it’s more about increasing our diversity which will lead to better profitability, better innovation, which is essentially a recipe for success. There are no barriers or challenges, we just need to work that diversity muscle in order for it to grow. We’ve done well but we can do better.
Q: Any advice for young women entering male dominated professions?
A: My advice is not too different from what I would give a young man. Be authentic and you will see a world of leaders that are both male and female that all bring different skills to the table. Being your true self is the best thing you can do to help you in your career. Become solutions orientated, never stop being a learner, and always have data as a backup.
Q: How did mentors influence your life?
A: My first boss at Schlumberger had a big influence on me. He recognized skills and talents I possessed and through his influence I changed my major to a Marketing and Business degree focus. This made a lifelong impact and helped me to thrive in my career. I’ve worked in HR for most of my career, which has led me to my talent management role at HARMAN. At the last company I worked for, my boss made our business go from worst to first. It was a company that was at the bottom of the totem pole and now is one of the highest ranking companies in their field. He is one of the first people I call for advice and guidance. There’s nothing more I enjoy now than mentoring people and watching them thrive.
Q: What women inspire you and why?
A: Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. There was real magic when they teamed up together and the impact they had on the world was astounding. They were true world leaders that lived in completely opposite worlds. It really showed no matter where we are, no matter where we come from, you can make an impact.
Q: What are ways to encourage and empower your peers and colleagues?
A: Work to shift organizational capability to the right, meaning, always leave your environment better than you found it. Look for ways that you can be of service. Servant leadership is always more effective than leading in a traditional sense. Encourage people to own their own developmental plan. HARMAN provides a great environment to grow your leadership potential and increase your skills but YOU have to take ownership.
Q: What are some traits you think great leaders possess?
A: Servant leadership – people won’t care until they know you care. Show people you care and lead by example.
Q: Have you encountered any gender specific challenges or obstacles in your career?
A: I have never considered myself as a “female” employee. My leaders and peers have all been so truly well intentioned that my gender has never caused any obstacles. I believe in keeping the mindset of contributing to the role because of your skills and talents, not because they need higher female statistics in growing my career.
Thank you for reading Melissa’s story. If you would like to share any thoughts, please add them below in Leave a Reply. Today’s blog wraps up our five-part series but all five will always be available to read or share at HARMAN Insights. And thank you for your participation in honoring all women during International Women’s Week.