At age 20, Megan Rich studied engineering at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach, Calif., and worked as an in-process inspector at AAE Aerospace when she had an epiphany that she was better suited to working with people.
As she re-evaluated what she was doing, Rich remembered how much she enjoyed leadership and people management when leading a night shift of 30 people at a printing company at age 18.
“I realized I had a strong desire to understand people, how they work and operate,” she said. Rich changed her degree to human resources and business management.
In May 2021, family friend James Smith, owner of James+James in Springdale, talked to her about launching his company’s human resources department.
She flew to Northwest Arkansas, interviewed, accepted the job, and flew back to California, where she quickly planned a wedding to her longtime boyfriend. She was on the job by July 2021.
In less than a year, Rich has built the department from the ground up – recruiting, launching safety initiatives, and leading the company’s effort to find and implement affordable health and dental benefits. In that time, the company grew from 60 to 130 employees.
Rich approaches hard conversations with employees from a position of respect, understanding and empathy to learn how she can improve their jobs. She encourages an “open-door policy.”
Rich’s five-year goal is to see the company double in sales and personnel.
“I want to see the human resources department thriving, so every employee has 100% attention and care from somebody specifically committed to safety, recruiting and personnel,” she said.
Rich is working on her Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) certification, a professional human resources membership, and her OSHA certification.
She volunteers with Fellowship Bible Church’s special needs and disabilities ministry. She and her husband also co-lead a young professionals community group at church.
Rich enjoys watercolor painting and hiking with her husband and their two dogs.