O’Hearen’s Opportunistic Approach Leads to Success
Creator: Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Communications
After graduating from Lehigh in 1988, volleyball alumnus Kerry Loughman O’Hearen stayed open.
“I didn’t have a linear path,” she said. “I call Human Resources my third career.”
O’Hearen currently works as CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer) at Pzena Investment Management. Your way to this point has taken a number of different, but equally rewarding, twists and turns.
“I’ve taken a very opportunistic approach to my career,” said O’Hearen. “I was very open to everything. Growth doesn’t always have to be a bigger company or a bigger team.
“I actually went to Pzena to start HR,” she continued. “I hired my first employee a few months later and my second employee a few years later. It was a growth experience in a different way. At any point in time you have to assess all the factors in your life to find the best one. “
O’Hearen’s post-graduate route actually stopped her in Lehigh.
“I did my MBA in Lehigh and graduated from volleyball,” she said. “Then I started my career at Anderson Consulting, which is now Accenture.”
After more than three years, O’Hearen joined Deloitte – a multinational professional services network – for approximately 10 years, where he worked in a variety of risk management consultancies.
“Both of these first two jobs were associated with a lot of travel and a number of great learning experiences, with lots of customer interactions as they were consulting roles,” she said. “I eventually got married and had a child, so I left Deloitte and changed my path to lead a different lifestyle.”
Anderson Consulting was O’Hearen’s first career (information systems) and Deloitte her second (risk management).
O’Hearen’s third career was HR.
“When I left Deloitte and had my son, who is now 18, I ended up consulting with a very small, entrepreneurial accessories company (Fashion Accessory Bazaar, NY),” she said. “I became acquainted with this company through one of my roommates and best friends in Lehigh. She worked there and told me that they needed help with certain projects because they were now a ‘big’ company.”
The word big is relative.
“They were 35 people and had just bought a 40-person company and were now 75,” said O’Hearen. “I just came from a global company so it seemed very easy and I started advising them. The company quickly doubled in size. I was responsible for the entire recruiting and helped them with the implementation of organizational processes, it was expanded and developed into a company HR role. “
O’Hearen’s personal career was born.
She thought it would be a lot more temporary than it ultimately was.
“Working in larger companies gave me the background to understand how more structured organizations needed to function and what infrastructure needed to be in place,” said O’Hearen. “I brought this knowledge to the smaller company. I planned to do something different after a few years, but that point coincided with the global financial crisis, so I stayed there and was there for more than eight years. Business slowed or.” almost “stopped for many companies during the GFC, so everything came to a standstill for a few years.”
Through hands-on experience, O’Hearen learned everything there was to know about HR functions.
“Since I was self-taught, I got my certification from the national HR organization (HRCI / SHRM),” she said. “That, plus my previous work in large corporations and entrepreneurial companies, prepared me very well for my next job, which was at a much larger, very fast-paced, privately held tech company (TravelClick).”
O’Hearen’s career path has not been linear, but each station has built on the previous one. Her tech company employed approximately 1,500 people while O’Hearen led a team of more than a dozen people worldwide and helped run the company through a sale.
“It was a fantastic experience and it got me thinking about the decisions I wanted to make at that moment,” she said. “Selling a private equity firm is pretty intense.”
O’Hearen was at a point in her life where she enjoyed and cherished the experience but wanted to spend more time with her family.
“I had kids in middle school and I wanted to be able to see them more because when you go through an event like a sale, you spend your waking hours working long hours,” she said. “I found this very interesting opportunity at Pzena. I took the job for a lot of the same reasons as previous jobs … because of the people.
“They were quite intelligent, humble, and had high expectations.”
Words that also described O’Hearen’s time on the Lehigh volleyball team.
“You have been with very bright people for four years,” she said. “You learn to work hard, learn to be resourceful and be kept of a high standard.”
Whether in athletics or in the business world, O’Hearen sees two roles in a team.
“You have a role as a teammate and a leader,” she said. “The idea of always being ready to participate in the work and in the success is very important. Always be ready to get involved with others. In the world of work, it is easier to be responsible for your own success than to be responsible for the success of other people. That’s what you learn as you lead people and become a leader in your company. “
Today, O’Hearen is a generalist with her current company, Pzena, who covers all HR functions in her team.
“That’s all from talent acquisition (recruiting), onboarding, employee development and employee relationships,” she said. “I work with our Benefits, Compensation, Compliance and Talent Management, which is performance feedback and the management of the development of our employees during the entire employee life cycle. It encompasses the entire range of HR functions.”
O’Hearen is in a strong position to lead people, in part because of her time as a student athlete.
“You have to know how to win and lose,” she said. “Nothing can be just about themselves. People who have played sports know that it’s not about themselves. They need the ability to have determination and understand hard work. We love to hire candidates who go to college -Athletes because it means they must have a balance. ” a lot in their lives and they strive for excellence in many ways. “
O’Hearen looks for certain qualities, not necessarily just athletes.
“We love athletes, but we’re really looking for excellence because people can see that in non-athletic activities,” she said. “We understand the amount of time it takes to do a particular sport, and people who can handle it can typically handle high-demand environments.”
Today O’Hearen is grateful for the Lehigh environment. She continues to give something back to her alma mater.
“The volleyball program has always played a very important role in my life,” she said. “I didn’t know about Lehigh until I was recruited. Would I have found it and ended up there if it wasn’t for volleyball? I really don’t know.
“One of the happiest things that happened in my life was to end up in such a great place.”
O’Hearen’s bond with her Lehigh teammates will last a lifetime.
“My lifelong friends are from Lehigh,” she said.
O’Hearen certainly made Lehigh proud and shows the importance of being open to every opportunity.
“I recently spoke to Lehigh students for a class, I spoke to the volleyball team, and I spoke to MBA students,” said O’Hearen.
They don’t have to be prescribed like that.
“It doesn’t all have to be predetermined as long as you are always looking for an exciting and great experience,” said O’Hearen. “I didn’t study what I’m doing today. I learned, so the ability to lean is really important.”
At every stop along the way, O’Hearen learned and appreciated the impact of Lehigh.
“Lehigh is an important part of my life to this day,” she said. “I’ve found that the older you get, the more you appreciate it.”