KASTx Ventures is excited to announce the addition of Jan Nighswander to our growing team of experts as our Director of Human Resources. The start to Nighswander’s career was something of a happy accident, she explained. Originally in production accounting in the energy industry, her passion was sparked when she had the opportunity to audit the employee benefits and pension plans of the company she was working for. She fell in love with the work, made the transition into the human resources department, and never looked back.
“I love this work,” Nighswander said with a smile, “And I don’t love it because it’s just human resources, I love it because the work that we do helps operations run smoothly.”
With over 30 years of experience in the field, she has an extensive resume working with a number of different companies both as an employee and a consultant after she launched her practice in 2012. But her love of HR reaches beyond just the discipline itself. She had a turning point in her career when the company she was working for was bought by two entrepreneurs. She showed up to her first meeting with them, coming face to face with a surprise panel interview.
“I had no idea that’s what I was in for,” she said, “So in those moments, when all else fails, just be yourself. Well the first thing they told me was they were not interested in having a human resources department in their company, so that was a bit of a game changer in the interview… But what was cool is they had no use for HR in its traditional sense, what they wanted was a process and someone who would support their leaders be the best HR managers they could be. I mean this was a new philosophy for me, and so began a really, really cool journey.”
This idea of empowering leaders to have skills in human resources rather than a separate department of its own would become the defining philosophy in Nighswander’s career, and would eventually become the foundation of her consulting practice.
“The reality is the work gets done by and through people, and if leaders constantly defer human issues to HR to look after, that’s not going to work,” she explained. “Yes you have to drive revenue, you have to be profitable, but more than anything, you need to understand how to drive your people to get those things done in the best way possible. The company wins and so do the employees. So it’s a passion for me, and it has been for a long time.”
At KASTx, Nighswander said she’s excited to work with an inspiring and innovative team of experts, and new companies who are driven to make meaningful global change.
“I’m inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit at KASTx, and the mission to help make big impacts in the health community,” she said. “In particular, I’m excited to help the portfolio company leaders grow and establish strong human resources practices that help drive their vision and business results.”
“Jan’s years of experience and high level of expertise are going to be a huge benefit to us and our portfolio companies,” said Mark Starratt, co-founder of KASTx Ventures. “Her unique approach to Human Resources will help us inspire a whole new level of leadership for and within our ventures.”