Palo Alto, CA USA – Iris Harrell founded her namesake Design + Build company in 1985 during a time when the construction industry was predominantly male-driven. She led Harrell Design + Build until her retirement in 2014. On February 28, 2020, the firm will again have a female in top leadership when Harrell Design + Build President, Lisa Sten, assumes the role.
Upon Iris’s departure in 2014, Ciro Giammona assumed the role of CEO. After twenty-three years with Harrell Design + Build and six years as the firm’s leader, Mr. Giammona will retire on February 28, 2020 and Ms. Sten will become HRI’s third CEO and second female leader in the company’s history.
HRI is 100% employee-owned and embodies a carefully cultivated culture that allows its employee-owners to work their way up the ladder into top leadership roles. When Mr. Giammona announced his plans to retire, Ms. Sten, then General Manager/Senior Designer, was identified for the role and a two-year transition plan was initiated.
Ms. Sten previously co-owned an interior design company in Minneapolis. A mutual acquaintance connected Sten and Iris Harrell, leading to Ms. Sten joining HRI in October 2000 as a Designer.
“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a design you have created become a reality,” Sten says, explaining her attraction to HRI and the Design + Build industry.
Ms. Sten always wanted to be involved in helping to govern Harrell Design + Build. Over her twenty-year tenure, Sten has taken on more responsibility and leadership, culminating in her imminent transition from President to the company’s top position.
“As CEO, I will be more deeply involved in many ways, but still embracing our long-standing mission to provide excellent customer service and be our clients’ ‘contractor for life’.” When asked about what it means to be a woman leader in a still primarily male-dominated industry Sten replies, “Harrell Design + Build has an inclusive culture that encourages new ideas and achievements regardless of gender. As employee-owners, we collaborate toward a singular goal, providing the ultimate quality and the best customer service to every client.”
According to Mr. Giammona, Sten’s progressive entrepreneurial spirit, deeply rooted understanding of the industry, and “get it done” attitude are reminiscent of Harrell Design + Build’s founder. “She embodies our company’s innate DNA and deeply entrenched core values of ownership, teamwork, customer service, innovation, quality, professionalism, personal growth, integrity and fun. Through her leadership, Lisa will elevate Harrell Design + Build’s already high level of quality, design, and customer care to even greater heights.”
Based in Palo Alto and serving Silicon Valley and the mid-Peninsula, Harrell Design + Build Design + Build has offered a full-service approach to design and remodeling since 1985. Harrell Design + Build is one of only a handful of woman-led Design + Build firms in the Bay Area.