Meet Joe Harkins: Director of People & Culture and Video Operations

Jun 22, 2023

Meet the man who wears many hats in both his personal and professional life. Joe Harkins’ career history is as interesting and varied as the work he does as Director of People & Culture and Video Operations at Upstream360.

What do bartending, video editing and HR have in common?

While attending Xavier University, Joe studied Sports Management for his first Bachelor’s degree and followed up four years later with a second Bachelor’s in Electronic Media. While at Xavier, Joe bartended at The Gas Light Café and interned with the Cincinnati Reds which turned into a fulltime role as Video Coordinator. Eventually, he made his way to JayTV and worked for nearly a decade as an editor for television shows on the DIY Network and HGTV before hiring on with Upstream360.

When it comes to interacting with different kinds of people, developing good listening skills, and considering another person’s point of view – crucial skills for a manager and HR – bartending had a lot to teach. “I’ve joked for years that I learned more bartending than I ever did in a classroom,” Joe says. “Being able to stop what you’re doing and listen to what someone is going through is important if you’re about to pour them another pint or finishing up a one-on-one lunch.”

Another lesson bartending taught him? “Trust your gut. If a cut or section of a project doesn’t feel right, take a break and come back with fresh eyes to fix what your gut is saying is off.”

“It can be a whirlwind, but it’s never boring.”

Joe has worked at Upstream360 for nearly seven years. In that time, Upstream has experienced a new CEO, hired nearly a dozen new employees, and grown in scope and magnitude of work. Joe has been a catalyst for many major positive changes, like improving employee health insurance, adding a flexible work-from-home policy, updating paid family leave, and expanding mental health coverage to the benefits plan.

In addition to cultural shifts and a growing team, video production “is in a state of flux,” according to Joe. “We all now have in our pockets what would have been almost a broadcast-worthy camera thirty years ago.”

That’s a lot of change.

But when it comes to handling change, Joe’s a pro. “One thing I enjoy about working at Upstream is no day is the same. I may go directly from a meeting about insurance open enrollment to a pre-pro meeting for a TV spot for one of the world’s largest brands to an ideation session on how to improve the look of our conference rooms.”

Work Hard, Show Up

Is it any surprise that Upstream’s Director of People and Culture is a family man?

The thing that makes him most proud? “My kids. People always say parenting is hard, but you have no idea until you’re in the thick of it.”

In fact, it’s his own parents who had the earliest and strongest influence on Joe. His parents were both hard workers who showed up for their children, whether it was coaching a sports team or becoming a pack leader for Cub Scouts.

Joe is no stranger to working hard and showing up. In addition to his multiple roles at Upstream, he coaches his sons’ sports teams and has executive produced and edited his own television show, The English Contractor.

“Being able to actually pull the show off while working full time and parenting during the pandemic is something I’m pretty proud of.”

We couldn’t agree more. Many hats off to you, Joe.

Want to learn more about Joe’s work with video production? Have a product that could use some of Upstream360’s storytelling magic? Check out Upstream360’s (and some of Joe’s) work here.