Kate Harthan

Kate Harthan, Human Resources/Accounting

Kate Harthan, Operations Director/Human Resources

Get to know Kate in this Q&A series


What path brought you to this business?

Business Entrepreneurship has always been in my family. Continuing the family business was something I was convinced that I would NEVER do! After high school, I had planned to go into music education. Once tests were passed for violin, trumpet, and piano, I changed my major, ended up managing a bed and breakfast for a while, changed my major again, graduated with a Human Resources Management degree, and then realized that all of my job experience and educational training would benefit this business: entrepreneurship, marketing, accounting, and human resources. So here I am!

What is your title and a few of your responsibilities at Corporate Recognition?

My title is Operations Director. I recently moved out of the accounting role here, which has been a refreshing change! Basically, I now oversee the majority of projects that come through our office. I am working to familiarize myself with several large yearly projects that only Pam or Ryan have handled in the past, and I have also taken on a marketing role. Research for appropriate products for our customers has been an increasing need, so I am also taking on some of that work as Ryan will be out on sales calls more frequently. As Corporate Recognition grows, there is also a need to set long- and short-term goals. It is my responsibility to start this process and make sure we are actively working to meet those goals.

What are you known for professionally? What do you have a knack for?

I would say that I’m known for strong communication skills. As I handle many accounts with our vendors and also our customers, I have to fully understand each order. If I don’t understand something, I will ask and make sure, so that you get exactly what you’re wanting and expecting! I’m great at follow-up, and will come through if you ask me to do something.

What’s the one problem you are best at solving for your clients? What do your ideal clients say about you?

I am able to get back to customers quickly on research projects or with answers to simple questions. Shipping estimates and tracking information, along with invoice questions, are most common.

What are you most passionate about professionally? What most excites you about your work & the contribution you can make?

I am most passionate about helping employees to be personally satisfied by their jobs, and helping them be most effective in their positions. Too often, Human Resources is looked upon as a negative thing within an organization. From my own personal experience and study, I know that this doesn’t have to be the case! Employees should feel free to ask for continuing education or training, and management should provide it to them if it benefits their job. They should feel confident asserting their opinion, and should feel that their opinion is valued even if it isn’t used in a particular situation. In this economy where raises are stagnant or nonexistent, employee incentive programs are being constantly cut, and work responsibilities seem ever-increasing, there are steps that companies can take to retain and develop their valuable employees.

What is your favorite Hobby?

I have far too many hobbies! As I mentioned, I switched my major from music education to business. This left me with the ability to play piano, trumpet, and violin. My husband is a singer and songwriter, and together we have a room of musical instruments to play and learn. He and I also led worship for a church for a year and a half, and have continued to lead as Pastors call us from various churches in the Rochester and Owatonna areas. I also really enjoy crafting, I scrapbook, make decorations for our house, and create gifts for others. I love to organize our house and Corporate Recognitions office, which can sometimes cause me to be the only one who can find anything! Matt and I often cook creative meals using ingredients we haven’t tried before...I love Indian food and cooking with quinoa! My black lab, Reno, shares a love of my other hobbies: walking/hiking/anything outdoors, and swimming.

Where did you grow up and why aren’t you there now?

I grew up in Owatonna, and that’s where I am now.

What would be impossible for you to give up?


What is your favorite color, favorite food, and favorite time of year?

I like the color blue, love corndogs and pasta, and summer is definitely my favorite time of the year. I will take 100 degrees over 50 any day! Yep, I live in the wrong state.

Who is your favorite singer or band and why?

For Christian music: Jesus Culture. I love Kim Walkers voice and the great lyrics!
For secular: Coldplay, One Republic, and Imagine Dragons (check them out!) It’s all positive and energetic music.

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