Employee Spotlight – Lori Kauniste


Customer service is close to senior compensation analyst Lori Kauniste’s heart. Like all of us at UH, her days are full of ringing phones and deadlines, but she makes an effort to be respectful with everyone she encounters. “We all have bad moments, especially during stressful times making it difficult to remain patient,” she said, “I don’t want to be that ‘bad moment’ person when someone calls me.”

Described by supervisor Sara Chelette as “a terrific analyst and a consummate professional,” Lori conducts salary reviews, creates new job descriptions, analyzes employee job fit and provides employee data to business administrators across the UH campus. It is a job that requires as much art as skill, since accuracy and tact are needed in equal measure.

“I believe in hard work and dedication which I learned from my mother, a Chinese immigrant, who grew up mostly in Da Nang Vietnam. She was the first of her immediate family to come to America in 1969. She is an amazing role model who worked extremely hard to overcome many obstacles to achieve great success in her career and build a life for her and her family here in America. I attribute all my successes to mom, including being the first in my family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, and eventually a master’s.”

Although Lori is relatively new to UH HR, she is no stranger to Human Resources. She began her HR career with Lockheed Martin in 1998. At that time, she was already a familiar face at the company. “My high school partnered with Lockheed Martin offering a Voc-Ed program where I attended school for four hours in the morning and worked four hours each afternoon. This program afforded me the opportunity to build a working relationship with Lockheed Martin allowing me to return each summer while I was in college. Upon graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Lockheed Martin offered me a full-time job in Benefits in 1997. This was the start of a long-term career in HR.”

Lori quickly climbed the corporate ladder, eventually becoming a senior HR business partner with responsibilities that crossed all areas of HR. In 2008, she moved to Enbridge Energy to focus on compensation, gaining the skills that made her the top candidate at UH when she applied to be a senior compensation analyst.

Going from the corporate environment into higher education isn’t an obvious career move for many, but Lori was ready for a change and had the skills UH was looking for.

“Lori came to UH with a background in compensation and HR analysis,” said Sara Chelette, who needed not just an experienced analyst but an expert in PeopleSoft HR. Lori also having her SPHR certification and an understanding of benefits, employment law and other aspects of human resources was a bonus. “During her first year, she formed wonderful relationships with her customers; many of whom regularly tell me how much they appreciate everything that she does for them.”

A big believer in the importance of teamwork, Lori believes in helping out wherever she is needed. Her family life is also team-oriented, where she is a dedicated Little League mom, cheering her son to success in the Pearland Little League Minor Division and on the All Stars’ team. She also enjoys watching her 10 year old play football and her 7 year old play soccer and basketball. As her boys get older, she hopes to interest them in one of the passions that first brought her and her husband together: golf. “My husband and I golfed a lot when we dated but stopped after we had children. Now the boys are older,” she said, “so we are now introducing them to the game of golf. It is a great way to spend quality time together and I hope it will be something we can start doing regularly as a family.”

Lori believes in the importance of being happy in your chosen career. “I started college on an accounting scholarship but quickly changed my focus after working in a CPA’s office one summer. I was also a candidate for a clothing buyer job at Foley’s, but I’m not a fashionista so decided against that path as well.”

With the same patience she shows her customers, Lori was patient with herself until the right career path became clear. “I’m happy to be here,” she said, and her customers across the UH campus are happy she’s here, too.