Celebrating Women in Leadership: Hannah Darkey

Hannah Darkey serves as Larson Design Group’s Talent Manager, a role within our Human Resources team in which she leads recruiting efforts, employee retention, as well as learning and development.  

As part of our Celebrating LDG Women in Leadership series, we’ll learn more about Hannah, from her path to leadership to the advice she has for future leaders. 

Did you always see yourself in a leadership role? If not, when did you realize you might find yourself in that position and what effect did it have on you?  

Early in my career I don’t recall leadership being top of mind. During undergrad and graduate school, I took about a dozen leadership classes, but it wasn’t until I experienced good leadership in the workplace that I wanted to be a leader myself. I have been in situations where bad leadership created a culture of stress and distrust, and I learned early on that was not the kind of leader I wanted to be. 

What inspires you as a leader?  

My parents are the definition of “teamwork makes the dream work.” Growing up my parents placed a high value on hard work. My dad worked a labor-intensive job to support our family of six, and my mom stayed at home with four girls. My dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was in high school, but even while undergoing radiation, chemo, surgeries and eventually beating cancer he rarely missed work. My mom never missed an important school event or pick-up. My parent’s commitment to each other, the sacrifices they made, and the hard work that they instilled are values I will never forget as a leader. 

Do you have a favorite inspiration or mentor?  

Sara Blakely, the founder of the shapewear company Spanx, is someone I look up to a lot. She is a mom of four, entrepreneur, philanthropist and self-made billionaire. She sold fax machines door-to-door, pushed herself outside of her comfort zone doing stand-up comedy, and did not give up on her own invention. She turned a $20 product into a million-dollar empire by learning from her failure and mistakes. I think my failures, big or small, are lessons and opportunities to grow in self-awareness and help hone my skills. 

How does your team contribute to your success?  

I learn something new from my team on a regular basis. They help me develop, which helps me develop them in turn. They are dedicated to making a difference in the careers of the candidates and new hires we recruit, and they are dedicated to the making a positive impact to LDG.  

What are some of the most significant obstacles you’ve overcome in your career and how did you get past them?  

Student loan debt – just kidding! I am still working on overcoming that obstacle. I think the biggest obstacle for me is getting out of my own way. I am striving to continue learning from my mistakes, and to trust that it’s ok to not be “the” expert. Knowing that I don’t have all the answers right every time allows me to continue getting better. Sometimes, learning from the failures can provide the best development.  

What values, techniques or support systems have you used to achieve a work-life balance?  

As a working mom, finding the right balance is important. I find that balance changes given your individual circumstances and different stages of career and life. I have been incredibly blessed to have a supportive husband and a spunky four-year-old to keep things in perspective. My husband and I work together to tag team our faith, parenthood, home life and careers. They are my biggest motivation. My advice to future leaders is to know it is ok to mess up every now and then – it may be your best opportunity to get better. 

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