Jan Hess is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact who is making history in a company known for making history.
In 2000, the Huntsville-native became the first female executive of Teledyne Brown Engineering, the first high-tech company established in Huntsville to help Wernher von Braun build the Redstone Rocket, according to the company website.
Teledyne Brown will this year celebrate its 65th anniversary.
Hess steadily moved up in leadership and became the engineered systems and advanced manufacturing company’s first female president in 2014.
She is also president of the Engineered Systems segment of Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, which includes Teledyne Brown Engineering and three other Teledyne companies, and employs 1,200 people to serve the aerospace, defense, maritime and energy markets.
Hess is responsible for the “growth, profitability and long-range strategic positioning of her segment,” which has grown organically by double digits under her leadership both in revenue and profit in an industry where the average is low single digit.
“I find that she has integrity, which is important not only in business, but in relationships outside of business,” said friend and colleague, Dorothy Davidson who is CEO of Davidson Technologies in Huntsville.
Davidson told Yellowhammer News that Hess is a “good person for the community” and is well known not just in Alabama, but also nationally and internationally.
“I think that’s a tribute to her for several reasons,” Davidson said. “One is her being a woman in the position that she’s in and being able to carry that forth and to have people respect that. In this day and time, to be able to get the respect of other people, other nations, is a very important thing, especially when you can do it successfully and with the integrity that is required.”
Hess said she believes there are three key elements to success: hard work, persistence and a positive attitude, which she says she learned as one of eight siblings whose father passed away when she was 10 years old.
She and her siblings “worked as a team” to help her mother keep the family afloat.
“As we went off to college, those at home sent whatever money possible to help those in college,” said Hess, adding that she began working at the age of 12. “As we graduated, we helped those still in college and at home.”
Hess graduated from Auburn University with a degree in accounting and holds a certificate in management from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, as well as a professional designation in Advanced Government Contracting. She is an active business leader and volunteer who advocates for children with learning challenges and sits on multiple Huntsville boards and councils. She is a certified public accountant in Alabama (inactive) and frequent public speaker who has won multiple honors and awards, including being named a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts of the USA.
“I have been fortunate to have many mentors in my career,” Hess said. “Mentoring need not be a formal process. Mentoring opportunities are everywhere – airplanes, events and most recently while walking in D.C. to a conference. It is an honor and very rewarding to be able to ‘pay it forward’ and watch others grow.”
Hess is married to Grantt Childress, whom Hess calls her “greatest cheerleader.” The two have an adult son.
Hess will be honored with Governor Kay Ivey in a March 29 awards event in Birmingham that will recognize 20 Yellowhammer Women of Impact whose powerful contributions advance Alabama.
Details and registration may be found here.
(Image: Teledyne Brown Engineering/Johnny Miller)
Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.