Introducing Dana Nagengast, Senior Executive Advisor at McLean & Company

Author(s): Dana Nagengast

Dana Nagengast, a seasoned leader in the field of Human Resources, brings 30 years of experience to the Executive Advisor role and McLean & Company, where she supports and guides Human Resources leaders to map out their HR strategy and prioritize HR initiatives, resulting in measurable impact on organizations and individuals alike.

In this Q&A, Dana Nagengast talks about her career, what drew her to this role, and what advice she would give to new HR leaders.

How did you get your start in HR?

I was initially on a path to becoming an accountant, until I enrolled in a human resources management course during my third year of college. I became engaged with the theories of leadership, and I loved collaborating with peers on team-building assignments. That’s when I knew the field of human resources was my calling!

I started my career as a compensation intern in a global manufacturing organization, which led to an opportunity to be selected on a “greenfield startup” leadership team. I was fortunate to be exposed to great leaders, who valued creating strong team cultures and embraced a work hard/play hard mindset while successfully achieving business outcomes. I was immediately struck by the impact that Human Resources could make within organizations and the importance of teams who fostered learning, collaboration, and a spirit of having fun. From there, I moved into a role with a global automotive organization and helped implement a matrixed-organization and self-directed teams. This cultural change fueled my interest and passion for organizational development, team-based learning, and leadership training facilitation. Over the years, each role I’ve held has continued to build upon the next, allowing me to grow and develop my human resources competencies and leadership skills.

What does your role as an executive advisor involve? What drew you to it?

My passion to make a difference and have an impact, with individuals and teams, drew me to the Executive Advisor role at McLean & Company. As a previous client, I experienced the value of having a thought partner with experience in human resources to help me navigate the complexities of serving in a human resources leadership role. Executive Services pairs highly experienced human resources executives with client members. As an Executive Advisor, I am honored to partner with clients to identify their strategic priorities, leverage McLean & Company’s remarkable resources, and create meaningful and executable strategies.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

As a recent “empty nester,” I enjoy staying active, camping with my husband, and traveling. While I didn’t grow up athletic, I enjoy a healthy spirit of competition. I’ve participated in 5Ks, mud runs, bubble runs, and the Tough Mudder (twice). For me, I thrive off the energy of other like-minded individuals at these events and love the spirit of everyone working on the same goal together. Living in Southern California, it’s easy to take advantage of sunny weather, so you’ll find me enjoying walks, hiking, and appreciating nature while camping with my husband. My recent pleasure is traveling, and I look forward to experiencing more adventures to see the world and make memories!

What advice do you have for someone starting out as an HR leader?

Some of the best lessons I learned throughout my career are to build and foster relationships, seek opportunities to learn and grow, and embrace and nurture your passions.

  • Building relationships is key for anyone starting out as a human resources leader. Intentionally make time to schedule informal connections with others, whether it’s grabbing coffee or lunch or attending after-hour gatherings – virtual or in-person. Creating a diverse network of relationships both inside and outside your organization can be instrumental along your journey. Many of the professional relationships I fostered over the years have turned into treasured friendships!
  • Be curious about everything! Prioritize learning about the business and how you add value as a human resources leader. Know your team and discover how to help bring out the best in each of them. Constantly push yourself to seek formal or informal opportunities that will challenge you to learn new competencies and skills. Dedicating time to develop and grow yourself is one of the most rewarding investments you can make and sets a great example for others!
  • In the human resources profession, it’s easy to lose sight of ourselves, as we are constantly focused on serving others. Be thoughtful and intentional about knowing your core values, your strengths and talents, and what energizes you. Always make time to enjoy things that bring you joy and happiness to ground yourself. This will allow you to stay mindful of your WHYs and remind you of what drew you into the human resources profession to begin with.

To learn more about our Executive Services and how McLean & Company will partner with you to accelerate completion of targeted HR priorities that ultimately drive your organization’s critical business objectives forward, please visit us at McLean Executive Services or contact Jon Campbell at

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