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Member Spotlight: Jenny Dowell

Compensation and organizational effectiveness manager, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.

A woman in a purple dress standing in front of a building.

Jenny Dowell’s colleagues might catch her humming as she walks down the hall. Maybe she’ll be doing a dance step or two. 

That’s because she’s practicing for a women’s barbershop competition in New Orleans this fall. She’ll compete in the Sweet Adelines International as part of the 45-member chorus called Vocal Standard.

Music offers her an emotional release. 

“It’s a different side of me,” she says. “It’s a good outlet.” 

And yet she sees similarities with her HR role.

“We sing in four-part harmony, and every part is important,” she says. “Everybody brings their own skills and personality and perspective”—just like they do in the workplace.

In fact, Dowell, SHRM-SCP, was introduced to women’s barbershop by a fellow volunteer at her local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She has served as president and held several other roles with the Manhattan, Kan., chapter, the Human Resource Management Network. 

She’s currently the state director of the Kansas State Council of SHRM. In 2017 she received the council’s Trombold Achievement and Kansas HR Professional of the Year award.

By all accounts, she’s a standout performer. 

How did you get into HR?

Like many of my peers, I fell into HR by accident. What has kept me in HR is the diversity and dynamic nature of our profession. We have the opportunity to bring incredible value to our organizations through our own expertise and by engaging and empowering others.

What are you passionate about?

Adding value. I want to know that my involvement has made a positive impact for the person, group or organization I’ve touched. I love it when I’m able to help shift someone’s thinking or resolve a complex problem.

What’s your favorite business book?

My current favorite is Cy Wakeman’s No Ego (St. Martin’s Press, 2017). Her lessons about recognizing and breaking free of ego are incredibly powerful and relevant in all aspects of life. Thanks to this book, I’m getting better at recognizing the waste of energy that comes from drama and arguing with reality. 

Photograph by Luke Townsend.


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