Taking Authentic Risks

As a business executive, Scott Harkey embodies the word “unconventional”. The President & CEO of OH Partners is just 38 years old, has sleeve tattoos and wore Vans to his ‘Arizona Achievers’ interview. Oh, and he started his career in marketing and advertising without graduating college.

Harkey met co-founder Matt Owens while doing cold calls when he was still in radio sales. Now he leads a team of 130 people as they deliver services to clients including Wynn Resorts, Arizona Lottery, Gila River Hotels & Casinos, Barrow Neurological Foundation, Bayless Integrated Healthcare and SRP.

Harkey believes getting feedback has helped him become a better leader for his team as they continue to grow.

In 2020, Harkey requested a performance review. He admits he took some of the feedback personally. “I’m glad it was there because it gave me more awareness to where I can make some changes,” he said. “It was helpful to understand where I was at.” 

Harkey is a big risk taker but talked about the importance of making sure the risks he takes are “authentic risks”. He believes feeling afraid should not determine where or not you take a risk. “I think it should be ‘what’s the opportunity for upside and what’s my downside?’” he explained. “Some of the best things in my life have been the worst things on paper,” he said. 

Harkey discussed the importance of putting then the right people in place within a business and then trusting them to be leaders themselves. “When I’m at my best I’m not making a lot of decisions,” he said. “I’m empowering people to make decisions but sharing the vision of where we want to go.” Harkey believes to scale up any organization, business leaders need to create a safe environment to take risks and potentially make mistakes.