20 Under 30: Parker McKenna
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Photo Kevin O'Riley
Human Resources and Benefits Manager, Springfield Public Schools
Born: March 27, 1983
Think about the HR and benefits employees where you work. Lots of paperwork, mundane details, and probably a fair amount of well-earned griping, right? Now think about the person who organizes that stuff for Springfield Public Schools, with more than 5,000 employees. Yow.
That person is Parker McKenna, but he’s not disgruntled. The 25-year-old, MBA-wielding human resources specialist loves the challenge the district presents almost as much as he loves his hard-working staff (which is why he chose to be photographed with them for this shoot). “This is what I want to do,” Parker says. “I picked this because I like the challenge of solving problems.”
Those problems include recruiting and hiring talent, and hammering out contracts, retirement and insurance for employees ranging from administrators to teachers to cooks, all while adhering to a strategy that keeps everyone in the district on the same page. “It’s truly something different every day,” he says. “I think I’ll have seen everything, and I’ll see something else.”
HR is an extracurricular activity for Parker, too. He’s on the board of both the Southwest Missouri Employer Health Care Coalition and the Springfield Area Human Resources Association. It’s a career, and one he hopes will take him higher and higher. Parker doesn’t know where he’ll wind up, he just hopes it presents a challenge.
What's Your Favorite:
I have a lot of favorites. The new Indiana Jones is coming out soon, and I love the series, so I can't wait to see the new one.
Again, lots of favorites. I have to say that I could not live without my TiVO, and as much as I hate to admit it, I am an American Idol junkie. I also really like Man vs. Wild. Where else can you watch a guy eat bugs and drink his own sweat? Amazing.
Dave Matthews Band and Garth Brooks
Childhood cartoon character?
I loved the "Heroes in a half-shell"! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I wanted to be Donatello).
St. Louis Cardinals
Local bar AND restaurant (name both)?
Bar: Fox and Hound, Restaurant: Ocean Zen
Form IRS 4868: Extension of Time to File. Gotta love us procrastinators!
Thing about being tall?
I can put things on top shelves and watch other people squirm on their tip-toes to try to reach them. Also... it's warmer up here.
What’s the first website you check every day?
I've heard some efficiency experts say you shouldn't do this, but the first thing I check in the morning is my e-mail. After I get a feel for what's going on I usually head to our home page at springfieldpublicschoolsmo.org for the latest information on what's going on with Springfield Schools! (This message brought to you in part by Springfield Schools and our partners in education)
One night, no consequences, whom do you seduce?
I am lucky enough to have a wonderful woman in my life, so this one's a no-brainer: Megan.
What’s the best thing about being younger than 30?
I love the reaction I get when people find out that I am under 30. I used to make every effort to keep people from learning my age because I have fought the "young person" stereotype all my life. Many people seem to have a mental block on what young people can accomplish, or what they are capable of. I want people to judge me for who I am rather than the year I was born. So, I have learned to celebrate my age, because it sets me apart, and makes me different. It provides me the challenge of proving myself and forces me to constantly be on my toes. I love it!
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