A part-time job at Wesley Medical Center led Jena Lysen into what has become an award-winning career in human resources.
Lysen was earning her undergraduate degree in education at Wichita State University when she took a job in admissions at Wesley. She wound up staying 17 years. Her final job there was as an organizational development consultant, which she then did for Raytheon and then in a self-employed capacity before joining the accounting firm Allen, Gibbs & Houlik in 2002.
The Kansas State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management recently named Lysen its top professional of the year for, among other things, her leadership and performance in the industry.
They put me through college, basically, and kept offering me jobs.
In the ’80s, they kind of came up with that title. I worked with the executive staff … to help change their departments. One of the things that was real important at that time was that we had good leadership in place.
I just had a CEO that was really… into changing the culture. … I did a lot of communication and team-building classes and exercises.
I was touching HR. It just wasn’t housed in the HR department at Wesley.
I wanted to go back and get my master’s, and so I was able to work at Wesley and get my master’s in sociology.
They put me through my MBA program as well.
I was blending cultures from all over the world.
You know, a good organizational development consultant can work themselves out of a job.
The company had grown. … Paul (Allen) was looking for someone also for change management, organizational development and getting things to a place that we didn’t have, like job descriptions.
Things get to you a little quicker than in an organization where there are 12,000 employees and they’re spread all over the world.
I’ve always wanted to be an HR person where the employees felt comfortable to come to me and share something with me that maybe they couldn’t share with a manager. That there would at least be another outlet.
It’s keeping key positions filled. Not that we have a lot of openings, but we’re small enough if we have a vacancy … that hits smaller companies a little more than a larger one.
Recruiting right now keeps me up … but that’s because it goes all night.
I almost feel like it’s kind of sorority rush. You just want to meet as many people as you can. … We want to have good decisions.
Actually, recruiting is one of my favorites because I like people. I also like college students a lot.
The other part of my job I really like is the opportunity for training or development. … How to improve that professional relationship.
Yeah, I think it is.
I’m sure … every manager breaks the rules to a certain extent.
Oh, I never break a big rule. You need to lead by example.
I don’t know if there’s any one particular reason why I think I won it. I know that (I) personally have done a great deal of volunteer work for our local chapter as well as our state council, but this year I put on the very first conference for diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion is something our national organization is putting a lot of emphasis on.
And it was successful. Let me put it this way: We didn’t lose money, and we actually made money.
It’s quite an honor. It’s quite humbling. A lot of it has to do with previous people who have won. … Just incredible people who have just done phenomenal things. … I will say it was quite a shock.
I dated a guy in the rodeo circuit for a while. I went to Mulvane … and I was the rodeo queen. I was the most unlikely rodeo queen, let me tell you.