Get to Knoll MillerKnoll Executive Katie Hendrix
In a recent interview with MillerKnoll Executive, Katie Hendrix, she opens up about her passion for helping others, changes in the workplace, and her love for all things design.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Memphis, TN, where I lived for most of my life and I currently reside in sunny San Diego. Although San Diego is my home now, I have lived in many places, and I have traveled near and far. When I was younger and still in school, I would go to an annual out-of-state camp each year and that really opened up my eyes to travel. For college, I attended Auburn University in Alabama where I received my Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management with a Minor in French and Business. While in college, I studied abroad in France for a semester and it was an amazing experience. Once I graduated from college, I had my eyes set on San Francisco to be near some family members in a big city. I've always been very intrigued by San Francisco! So, I ended up taking a job in the wine industry and it was an absolute blast. I held a couple of different positions until I found my way to Knoll (now MillerKnoll) where I have been for more than 10 years now and I am currently residing in San Diego.
2. Wow! You had quite the journey. What first drew you to Knoll?
I actually got recruited there. Someone had reached out to me about an opening, and after more than five years in the wine sales industry, I was ready for a change. The position sounded interesting and I've always been attracted to good design. I was initially (& still am) very drawn to Knoll's core values and its commitment to excellence, and I also saw a lot of opportunities for growth. Right place, right time!
3. And you have now been with MillerKnoll for more than 10 years! What has kept you there for so long?
The people. Everyone is so passionate and creative, and they care so much. It’s the people at our dealers, the people who are passionate to deliver to a+d. I also love the passion to create and design. I am a pretty creative person in my personal life, I am always tinkering with something. I have an embroidery machine and a Cricut, and I love creating and designing new things.
4. That is amazing! So you said you started there as a Showroom Manager. What is your current role?
My official job title is Strategic Relationship Executive and I just moved into this role in June of this year. Prior to this, I was a Channel Relationship Executive and prior to the company becoming MillerKnoll (when it was just Knoll), I was a Dealer Sales Specialist and a Dealer Brand Manager. In my current role, I am primarily responsible for supporting the San Diego commercial real estate and A+D communities whenever and wherever possible. This includes building relationships, educating them, and being their call-on person. It's a really fun role and I love it.
5. It seems like you have moved up there quite a bit. What do you think makes you a great leader?
I really enjoy working with people and I have a genuine interest in helping others succeed. Growing up, I have always been naturally drawn to leading and mentoring. It's something I just really enjoy. I think if you come from a place of authenticity and you genuinely care about seeing people succeed, you will be a great leader. I also believe you have to lead by example. In college, I was the Spirit Chairmen in my sorority and I have also coached a swim team.
6. Has anyone made a memorable impact on your career?
Do I have to name just one person? (laughing) There have been so many people that have influenced me. I think I have to say my mom has probably been the most influential person on my career journey. My parents have really supported every decision I have made and they always encouraged me to go out and adventure. They gave me a space where I could explore and have the advantage of following different talents and passions. I am so grateful for that. I have had many mentors at Knoll that I would not be here without. I've had a few managers who have made a lasting impression and have helped me to hone my craft and embrace my high energy and the people that we serve.
7. What is the biggest change in your field that you have seen since you started?
I would say technology and the pandemic. These two things have changed everything about the way people work. The pandemic opened up the doors for people to work remotely and you can now do your job from just about anywhere. It showed us that this way of work is possible and can be successful. TVs with videoconferencing are becoming a staple and people are taking meetings from their cars. We are still learning about how much this hybrid experience is going to challenge us to have physical workspaces and the types of technology you need to be successful. We are still uncovering the equity of experience when hybrid work is a new reality. Because working and collaboration have to be felt. How do you do that? Becoming more adaptable.
8. Where do you see workplace design going? We've been working towards an open floor plan for years, but do you think the pandemic is bringing back traditional high-wall cubicles for added safety measures due to the virus?
I think that yes, things are changing and design is changing but the culture of your company is still going to be what affects talent. More than ever, companies have to make sure they are investing in their first employee (their people). If people don’t like the culture they are in, they will move. Maybe the workspace needs to be more reflective of how they are going to work. More impotent. Tend to lead in the metro areas. Workspaces are going to happen, people are getting into that space. People want to come to work to be together. They want to be somewhere cool to do what they do better than they can at home. You have to have a cool space to attract those cool people to come together efficiently and effectively.
9. Do you have a current favorite furniture piece?
I would say my current covet for my personal enjoyment is the Platner Easy Chair. I like our welded metal chairs bc that is such a hard medium to get right consistently. I also love Bertoia. My uncle is also a jeweler so I am attracted to fine metal. I sold diamonds and wine so what do you expect? (laughing)
10. Do you have a favorite international travel destination?
There are two places that immediately come to mind - Italy and France. In college, I backpacked through Europe for five weeks and I also spent a summer abroad. I absolutely loved and miss Capri, Italy, and can't wait to go back. I also loved France - specifically the Bordeaux region. That is where they make two thirds of the wine in France. I also love the nearby champagne region.
11. Do you have a favorite domestic travel destination?
My favorite cool location is Steamboat Springs, CO and my favorite beach location is Seaside, FL. I have been to both of these locations and have special memories at each. I am an avid skier and love skiing in Colorado with my mom. And we love going on boat trips in FL.
12. Do you have any hobbies?
Well, I have more energy than I know what to do with if you can't tell (laughing). I'm either doing something active or I'm doing something creative. Lately, I have been very into riding my road bike in the mornings and I am currently very into needlepoint. I just purchased a really cool art deco kit from Etsy and I am so excited to make it! I'll have to report back when I'm finished.
13. Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
Please do not make me choose just one. I'm a collector of dining experiences (laughing)! Ok, one that comes to mind right away is Poan in Carlsbad. It's an upscale French restaurant, but its very charming and quaint. Their outdoor patio is very intimate and takes me right back to Bordeaux in wine country. The food has never disappointed me and it just has a very special feel. I love it! Jeune & Jolie is another fave spot of mine.
14. Gosh, no I feel like I need to go there! Ok, favorite TV show?
Will & Grace. I own all the seasons and can watch it on repeat. It gives me such a good laugh and I love the way they developed the characters.
15. What are you currently listening to on repeat?
Lately, I have been very into Marc Brussard.
16. Coffee or tea?
17. How do you drink your coffee, er espresso?
I love a good almond milk latte. I'm actually a bit sensitive to caffeine so I'm pretty simple when it comes to coffee.
18. Ok last question! Is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
Probably how active I am! I was a swimmer growing up and usually people are pretty surprised when I tell them my very first open water swimming experience was the Albatross Swim. I also can't stand wearing wetsuits, so I just swim in a regular bathing suit and a lot of people are surprised about that too (laughing). Outside of swimming, I used to be a trained rower in crew, and I have participated in triathlons. I also love skiing and road biking as I previously mentioned. Like I said...more energy than I know what to do with!