By Nabeel Jaitapker, M.A.
Joleen Rasmussen considers herself a problem solver.
“I like to think that I work well with people,” she said. “And I thrive in an environment where I can do things that make it easier for fellow employees.”
So it makes sense that Rasmussen is considered by many at Bell and Howell as a successful project manager.
“Effective communication is 80 percent of what my job entails,” she said. “A big challenge is that teams do not often communicate well with other teams, and it is my job to get everyone involved on the same page, like we are marching to the same beat of a drum.”
Joleen Rasmussen has been with Bell and Howell for more than 17 years. In addition to being a competitive sailor, she has served as a regional race officer, club judge, sailing instructor, commodore, fleet captain and a Special Olympics Unified Partner.
Having joined the company as a technology consultant more than 17 years ago, Rasmussen went into project management in 2006. Her primary responsibility is to onboard original equipment manufacturers that have strategic partnerships with Bell and Howell. She said that the complexity of technical activity within projects is what drew her down her current career path. Rasmussen has degrees in computer science and math education.
So it comes as no surprise that Rasmussen has found a way to integrate her project management and leadership skills into her hobby of competitive sailing – something she began doing after receiving a 16-foot-high performance catamaran sailboat as a wedding anniversary present from her husband in 1999.
“When we bought the sailboat, we figured that the only way we would get out and sail is if we joined a club and raced,” she said. “I didn’t realize how competitive it would make me as a person. In high school, I was never into sports, but now I don’t really sail for leisure. Only competitions.”
Rasmussen’s competitive nature has also transformed her into a sailing instructor, competition judge and a Special Olympics unified partner, where she continues helping two young adults with cerebral palsy sail in races.
She added that the races can be exhausting and extremely challenging. Add to that, someone with special needs on your team.
“I’ve been coaching and racing with them for the past 11 years,” she said. “To me, it is important for all of us to find time and volunteer. And there is no better joy than seeing their faces coming out off the boat after a race. It’s endearing.”