An interview with Jonathon Bartlett, Chief Human Resources Officer – Indica Labs
Chief Human Resources Officer – Indica Labs
How did you first learn about Indica Labs and what led you to join the company in 2019?
There’s the story I keep mostly to myself, and the story I tell everyone. The truth is somewhere between both of those. My aunt had breast cancer twice. After beating it the first time, it returned about 10 years later, and had metastasized. By the end of 2018, early 2019, the prognosis was not good. She hardly talked to anyone about it, but even on that final day, which was almost exactly four years ago to the day as I’m writing this, she was convinced that she was going to beat it. She was constantly being shifted from one trial medication to another, and she had mentioned Indica Labs around that time. Simultaneously, the posting had appeared repeatedly in my Indeed searches and after reading about Indica Labs I realized that this company could play a direct role, and perhaps had already played a role, in her treatment path. I knew that I couldn’t save her, and I knew that working here wouldn’t magically make that happen either, but I also knew that my passion for helping people would be amplified if I could find a way to help the people who helped people like her.
What roles have you held at Indica Labs and what is your current role?
I started as the HR & Accounting Manager, then moved into the Director of Accounting & HR, and am now the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), which still oversees both HR and Accounting.
What types of projects does the HR/ Accounting team work on and what appeals to you about the challenges that these projects pose?
I’m sorry, that’s confidential. If I told you, I’d need you to sign a few things first 😉
What sparked your interest in HR and why did you decide to make it your career?
Since I started working, I have had a passion for the field of HR, even though I didn’t realize at the beginning that it was “HR” I was passionate about. I loved teaching, training, and helping others (and myself) see life through different points of view. When someone asks me for help and I’m able to help them learn, and I get to see their face in that “ah-ha” moment, it really makes me happy. I also enjoy reading things that most others find boring, like long legal case studies, or obscure employment laws. I love the excitement people have when they start a new job, and my heart hurts for people when they’re struggling with something personal or medical. I learned later in life that all these things fell into this bucket of HR. It wasn’t until I had my own personally mortifying experience as an employee many, many years ago and I had no clue how to move forward, that I realized how important the profession was. I really should have said something in that moment, and I didn’t, and I worry about how many other people wanted to say something in their own situations and didn’t. Now I realize how crucial it is for an organization to have an unbiased conduit to its employees. I still regret running away from that moment, and I decided after that I wouldn’t run anymore, and I’d face things head on and help others do the same. Through all of that, I also learned that I have an ability to see things from multiple angles at once which helps me see both sides of a story, and that’s always helpful in HR! Lastly, I love the field because it’s a place where I can focus on policy, not politics.
You have undergraduate and graduate degrees in HR management from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Highlands University, respectively–what led you to attend these institutions, and how did your schooling prepare you for what you do today?
Albuquerque, NM is—and likely always will be—home to me. For a brief period, I attended college in Texas, and when I returned home, it was just natural to go to the University of New Mexico. My mom received her degrees in accounting and finance from UNM, and it was nice to follow in her footsteps. UNM is also an excellent university. For my graduate degree, I wanted to stay local because I love my state! New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) is also a wonderful university and has a beautiful campus in Las Vegas, NM, and also has satellite sites in Albuquerque. Because I was working full-time at another excellent college in the state, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), and they have a fantastic tuition reimbursement program for their employees, I was able to attend NMHU virtually for free. The education I obtained at UNM and NMHU was crucial for me because I lacked the real-world experience you need to be successful in HR & Accounting, so the only way I could find success in the fields was to have the foundation of knowledge and applied knowledge that I gained with my education. It would have been so much harder in these fields without that foundation. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without UNM, NMHU, and CNM.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
It’s so different every single day! I love numbers and I love people and I get to work with both of those all day long.
What motivates you in the work that you do today?
I’m very self-motivated. I take pride and joy in accomplishing something. I enjoy helping move the company forward in a positive and strategic way. I like knowing that what I do helps maintain the financial stability of the company, and that it helps contribute to this bubble of positive culture that exists. I know that when people reach out to me with something that they’ve probably been dealing with or trying to manage that situation for a long time before they approached me, and I’m happy that I can help people find a path to move forward. I’m also motivated knowing that people can count on me for something, and that what I do matters.
What do you appreciate most about working at Indica Labs?
I’m fascinated by the culture of people at Indica Labs. We don’t have a formal statement about what our culture should be, so it has grown organically into what it is. We have a staff of people who are all individually passionate about what they do, and they let that passion drive them. The kindness, compassion, and positivity of the team is top notch. What’s more impressive is the consistency of this culture across each of the countries where we have employees (and there’s a lot of different countries!). When someone starts working here, the company folds them into the culture without changing them. Everyone is welcome here, and everyone’s unique self is appreciated and celebrated, and our CEO is fantastic.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I love to travel. I specifically love to cruise. My husband and I are constantly trying to find our next new adventure out on the sea, and we find that cruises can be a very inexpensive way to see the world. I also think I was a pirate or something similar in a past life, because I have more trouble gaining my ‘land’ legs when we come back from a trip than I do finding my ‘sea’ legs on a ship.
Tell us about a cause you support.
I’m very passionate about mental health. There are so many important causes in the world, whether it’s about the environment, the people, or the animals that inhabit this beautiful planet. With all the possibilities that there are, my heart hurts for the people who are unable to participate because they feel isolated, alone, or are struggling to make it through another day. I want people to know that they aren’t alone. It’s okay to not be okay, and that there are qualified people who can help them navigate through whatever their struggles are. Most importantly, I want people to know that they are seen, and they matter. Our lives are a beautiful gift, and I want everyone to be able to see how important and beautiful they are.