Executive Vice President &
Human Capital + Business Support at
"Building Leaders of Tomorrow"
Brenda Devlin, Executive Vice President, Human Capital + Business Support, Harris, is a proven leader who oversees human capital development and all its functions. She focuses on aligning business initiatives with strategy and culture to ensure business results while helping employees develop their potential. Brenda has experience in acquisition and succession planning, M&A due diligence and integration, strategy development and execution, and marketing communications.
Armed with an MBA in International Business and Human Resources from The University of Kansas and a B.A. in French and Spanish, Brenda is certified as a Sr. Professional in Human Resources, SHRM-Senior Certified Professional, Certified Benefits Professional, Project Management Professional, and Certified Six Sigma Green Belt. She currently serves on the board of a Minnesota non-profit.
Brenda is a support system for the female business owners trying hard to establish themselves. She is the first vice president on the board of a local non-profit led by a female CEO. Being an active participant in the Human Resources environment with local associations, she serves as a mentor for up-and-coming H.R. professionals. “Leading Harris' Human Capital, Corporate Services, and Marketing + Communications teams, there are many strong women I have the honor of mentoring.”
According to Brenda, “as women, it is crucial that we support and encourage each other. I have worked for female leaders who saw other females as competition – we can’t do that to each other. Have faith in yourself, be confident and assertive; you do have a voice and people want to hear it. If you say nothing, people will assume you have nothing to say.”
Harris believes employee engagement is essential to creating a strong and positive culture. In 2016 when they developed their corporate plan, the timing was right to make "Talent + Culture" Harris' game-changer a strategic imperative for 2017. “That year we introduced our first fully-anonymous employee engagement survey and conducted a culture assessment as well, asking all Harris employees – foreman level and above – to participate and provide us with insight into what needed to be done to create a destination workplace,” explains Brenda.
“Our next step included taking action on what employees told us –and we’ve done that each year since with an employee focus group which analyzes survey results and makes recommendations to our Executive Leadership Team (ELT) based on the employee feedback.” In 2017, this employee focus group partnered with the ELT to create a Harris Culture Statement. They also developed their Leadership Fundamentals curriculum that year and have trained more than 200 people leaders since 2018. I have personally facilitated every Leadership Fundamentals 101, Field Leadership Fundamentals and Leadership Fundamentals 201 cohort at Harris,” she explains. “We started this work because employees told us, in our employee survey, that our people leaders were not the best at leading. This feedback spurred the development of our Leadership Fundamentals 101 curriculum, accompanied by our Leadership Toolkit. After a few cohorts of training our Leadership Fundamentals Program (LFP), we began to see marked improvement in how our employees viewed their leaders through our engagement survey results.” This employee focus group has also been integral in creating the Harris HUB SharePoint site, improving Harris’ benefits package, and instituting semi-annual Town Hall Meetings with the CEO because of employee feedback.
This work proved to make a difference throughout their Harris regions, and 15 offices across the country as a number of their division teams received regional Top Workplaces awards. The company’s work was validated further in 2021 when Harris was recognized with the Top Workplaces USA award, a true honor as they continued building Harris into a destination workplace. The recognition was especially gratifying as the award is based solely on employee feedback.
“As I think back to all that we have accomplished over the past five years, I feel honored to have facilitated this process as I see the positive organizational changes we’ve made and the positive impact these changes have had in attracting and retaining top talent at Harris,” says Brenda. “I certainly try to practice what I preach, as does our ELT. Our employees nationwide and our leaders value, encourage and engage in open dialogue and honest feedback so we can continually improve. We also recognize the importance of anonymity, which is why we enlist third-party research firm, Energage, the nation’s most credible employer recognition program operator, to conduct our anonymous employee engagement surveys.” WL
Executive Vice President &
Human Capital + Business Support
Harris is a leading national mechanical contractor specializing in design and engineering, construction, building automation, service, manufacturing, conveyors and end-to-end building systems. Customers who partner with Harris benefit from our national reach, regional offices, local expertise and more than 70 years of experience. From stadiums to manufacturing facilities, data centers to hospitals, concert halls to universities, Harris handles projects of all sizes and scope across the country.