Irene Hahn Blomgren ’73 remembers every second a Taser incapacitated her. The executive vice president of human capital for Taser International, she took the hit voluntarily to demonstrate its effectiveness and safety. Joining the company in July jolted her differently. After 15 years owning her own human resources consulting company, she has plugged into a challenging corporate career.
A consulting job helping Taser staff a new virtual systems division led to her position building an effective management team and directing human resources for the company. “I love this role,” she says. “It’s the culmination of all my experience.”
Irene transferred to Westmont from San Jose State to get a broader perspective on psychology, her major. “I wanted to integrate my faith with my studies,” she says. “At Westmont, I got a solid education from people who recognized my need to incorporate God’s solutions to human problems.”
Intending to continue in psychology, she thought about applying to graduate school, but the required counseling made her realize she’d rather travel. For three years she roamed the world as a flight attendant and then married her husband, David. She stayed home for a season to care for their three children. Unsure what to do next, she took two classes: pottery and real estate. “I couldn’t throw a pot to save my life, but I fell in love with real estate,” she says. She immersed herself in real estate sales and a mortgage business before starting her own firm to analyze commercial leases. She learned a lot through this enterprise, but the business didn’t succeed. That’s when a man she met in a Bible study suggested she become a corporate recruiter and hired her.
“Corporate recruiting married all my skills,” she says. “I felt like I had found my home. God has been the orchestrator of my career. There wasn’t a single position I anticipated or expected, but God led the way and equipped me for each endeavor. I can see the design of God from the beginning at Westmont and all the stepping stones that culminated in the opportunity at Taser.”
Like her husband, Irene is entrepreneurial. The inventor of the first aftermarket sunroof, David owned an automotive trim business until he retired. Irene started her own company, Technology Resources Inc., to work with executives in Silicon Valley and operated it for 14 years before going to Taser. When her career took off, David moved his business home and became the chief care giver for their children. “He’s a very nurturing father and the reason I’ve been able to hold high-profile jobs,” Irene says.
Irene has developed a philosophy of effective recruiting. “First you must discover the company’s strategic plan and direction,” she says. “Only then can you figure out what resources they need to achieve their goals and help them find the right people. I think it’s imperative to do recruiting that way.” Her advice to individuals is similar: Know your personality and skills. Online self-assessment tools can reveal this information. “Once you understand yourself, you’ll be better able to find a job that’s a match,” she says.
Studying psychology has helped Irene understand people, but it has also allowed her to serve as a lay counselor at her church over the years. “My professional and lay careers were able to grow together,” she says. “I always wanted to serve people, and that is what I’ve been able to do.”