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Nancy Hauge

Career Interview

Interview with Nancy Hauge

I am very excited to share with you all this week’s interview, with the wonderful Nancy Hauge. Nancy has had an incredible career – she was one of the earliest employees at Sun, and later on went to work as the VP of human resources at companies ranging from Gymboree to Silicon Image, where she is now.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Nancy all kinds of questions – ranging from general career advice, to salary negotiation tips and the role of female CEOs. Nancy draws from an impressive and unique set of experiences, and is incredibly funny to boot! I hope you all enjoy meeting this amazing woman.


Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?

I’m Nancy. I was born in Chicago, Illinois. I was raised with four brothers. I am currently the Vice President of Human Resources at Silicon Image. Prior to joining this company a year ago, I consulted to both big companies and start-ups. Helping them change or grow and often providing, what I lovingly like to call, executive daycare to CEO’s. Over the past 30 years, I have had the privilege to help hire about 25,000 people, assisted in raising over $250,000,000 in investment dollars to grow companies and I am the veteran of 5 initial-public-offerings.

I have a home in Wilmington, North Carolina and keep an apartment in San Jose, California. I have been married for almost 39 years to Kem Hauge. We have one son, Andy, and he and his wife, Ginger, have two absolutely perfect children, Drew and Charlotte.

You are a longtime HR professional who has held executive positions at some big name companies. How did you first get started in your career, and how has it evolved since then? 

My parents assumed I would be a housewife. They could see me married to an engineer, driving a station-wagon with six kids in the back and maybe writing something funny for the parish newsletter once per month. But my parents both died before I turned twenty, and I had to figure out how to create a life for myself without the benefit of their support or the constraints of their expectations.

So, I started out my life intending to be a comedy writer. I studied acting and playwriting and assumed I would either be a stand-up comedian or write sitcoms.

I met and married my husband, the composer, Kem Hauge, who at the time was a singer/actor in New York City. After a year of living as “starving artists” we decided that someone needed to get a “real job” and I lost the coin toss…but won long-term. At first, I worried that all access to my creativity would need to be stifled. I began my business career in a temp-job answering the questions of people who did not understand their employee benefits…it was a horrible job, but it gave me a lot of contact with other people. Being “good with people” was my only skill at the time.

My husband’s career as a jingle-singer (music for commercials) brought us to San Jose, California, in the summer of 1983, when he accepted a 12-week singing gig in the Bay Area. Rather than be separated for three months we packed up everything we owned, including our seven year-old-son and moved to California….hoping I could find more permanent work. I had never heard of Silicon Valley. When I answered an ad for a job at Sun Microsystems in early 1984, I assumed they made office furniture….the ad said they made “workstations” (the precursor of the PC). I was more than naïve.

Sun was a turning point in my career and in my life. I discovered at Sun that I really enjoyed my work…I stopped resenting not being in the arts, because the work I was doing was so creative.

I started out intending to make people laugh at their lives and wound up making people proud of their livelihoods. I lucked-out. The truth is that if I could have any professional legacy, it would be that I helped people to be proud of the work they did.

Sun's headquarters in Santa Clara, via

Sun’s headquarters in Santa Clara, via

You were at Sun during a very unique period, as the company was just about to take off, and have some hilarious anecdotes about your time there. Can you share a favorite?

I spent eight years as the only woman on the senior staff of World Wide Operations (WWOP). 

Every Thursday morning we met at 8 AM, and spent the next three hours together getting the download on what the executive management group was up to, reviewing the metrics and goals and then doing the round-table thing; hearing from whoever was part of the executive team at the time. Continue Reading