COO Deana Haworth was recently recognized as one of Indianapolis’ 2018 Women of Influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal. The Women of Influence award is presented to central Indiana women who are influential in both their companies and communities. As an 18-year veteran of the agency and the first female to serve as COO in the agency’s 40-year history, we are proud of Deana and all of her accomplishments.
We recently sat down with Deana to talk about her background and leadership at Hirons.
What is your educational background?
I am a first-generation college student and received a bachelor’s in journalism from Franklin College. Aside from my bachelor’s, I received a master’s degree in public relations from Ball State University and later earned an Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
When did you first feel like you “made it”?
In many ways, I feel as though I haven’t even begun to reach my full potential. My personality doesn’t allow for a “sit back” approach, so I’m always recognizing things that need to be accomplished. I’m not sure when I can fully give an answer to this, so stay tuned.
Has there been a mentor who has influenced your career?
I would not be where I am today without the mentorship of both Tom Hirons and Jim Parham. While Tom has showed me to harness my passions to lead change, Jim has taught me that no matter how hard a situation, proper communication can make a huge difference. I’m truly thankful to work for such strong industry leaders and encourage others to follow them as well.
What’s been a company achievement during your tenure at Hirons?
Hirons’ recent growth and financial success have been hugely rewarding. Tom Hirons led Hirons for 40 years to become one of Indianapolis’ premier agencies, and we will continue to build on that for many years to come.
Another achievement we are proud of is Hirons’ transition to an ESOP. I’ve always believed in personal accountability, and the ESOP structure makes sense for a consultancy like Hirons. It was a complex process, but Tom Hirons was on board the entire way, and it’s been a major selling point for both employees and clients!
Outside of work, what are some of your interests/passions?
I’m very passionate about tradition. My family, specifically my parents, have played a significant role in the way I approach life. Faith, family and a passion for life are my guides. I also am a news junkie. You can usually find me monitoring both local and national media.
What was a turning point in your career?
There are several I could mention, but I think my involvement with the Wishard Hospital referendum stands out. That campaign demonstrated to me the impact my industry can have on communities and public welfare in general. It was both massive in size (200+ community meetings, presentations, public events) and involved diverse outreach (government, business, philanthropy, life sciences, education and faith-based communities).
We garnered 85 percent voter approval for a $750 million referendum during one of the worst recessions in U.S. history. It was a powerful experience that opened my mind to the infinite possibilities of what can be accomplished given effective public outreach and education.
What professional accomplishment stands out among others as especially significant?
I was born and raised in rural southern Indiana. As my career progressed, I noticed the void in public outreach to rural communities and to the people who live in areas that mirror my hometown. As someone who grew up in an entrepreneurial family, I’ve been very determined to tackle this problem, and now I have with our Rural Reach program. By combining Hirons’ industry expertise and our team’s rural life experience, Rural Reach will help companies, organizations and government agencies communicate to the rural poor through a unique matrix of strategies and tactics.
What is your best piece of advice for young professional women who aspire to accomplish the things that you have done?
My best advice for young women is to embrace their intelligence, abilities and leadership potential. Every single woman has the potential to be the next great CEO, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. The opportunity is there, and you deserve it just as much as anyone else.