What is your story?

I am a person who tends to follow my heart.

In high school I loved chemistry and calculus and I talked to my teachers about what type of career I can I have where I can utilize my passion for science and math.  One teacher suggested chemical engineering another teacher suggested being an actuary at an insurance company.

 

I started out with the chemical engineering and Follow this path obtaining my bachelors degree from Vanderbilt University and my masters degree from MIT. I then worked as an engineer at the Rohm and Haas plastics plant near Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I had the good fortune to be placed on a multi-disciplinary new product development team.Most of the other people had business degrees.  I was fascinated by their perspectives on marketing the potential product and pricing it, and making sure that the company would have a profit. so I determined after two years as a practicing engineer that I should go back to business school for an MBA.

The moral of the first  part of my story is that you can’t necessarily predict where you’ll end up, Because you may not have all the information you need upfront to decide on the perfect straight-line career, or relationship with your life partner.My current occupation is that I am a managing consultant assisting entrepreneurs and also nonprofits to improve their businesses or operations.   ‘m also the CFO of my family business which is StanleyConstruction company in Huntsville Alabama.

I assist clients or individuals with their strategic plans, marketing and cash flow.

What message do you like to promote to others?

My message to people is that you have to be clear on your vision, your mission , and your goals.  And if the goals evolve over time, that’s OK.  You have to have the passion to pursue those fearlessly if you want to be successful.

In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?

I have been committed to giving back to my community for forever.  I have volunteered as a tutor, mentor and organizer.

For  10 years I was the chairman and volunteer executive director of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.  This was a start up organization in Buffalo New York dedicated to preserving the history of the Underground Railroad, the jazz music scene in Buffalo, and the Civil Rights Movement.  We started with no money, no property, but just a love and respect for history, and a desire to share the story of the rich Contributions of African-Americans with tourists and local residents.  we were able to attract Grant friending get projects done, and to host creative, informative events where people could learn about history.  Another organization in which I’ve been involved been involved actually for almost all of my life is Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. It has been so much more than a couple of years of parties after football games in college!  In our sorority we talk about a lifetime commitment.  Delta has afforded me the platform to help my community no matter where I live (and I have lived in 14 cities across the US and Europe).  through Delta I’ve been able to mentor young girls in our various youth development programs.  I’ve also been able to share with friends and the public about the importance of voting through our social action programs.  Another one of my favorite Delta programs is arts and letters because I am such a music aficionado and I also love dance.

In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to?

I’m not sure if I will actually ever overcome this struggle, but definitely one of my biggest challenges is the notion that you can balance career, family, and giving back to your community.

I believe I heard Oprah say that you can have it all but not all at one time.  I agree with that! For example, at one point in my life I was so focused on getting my graduate degrees and getting off the ground with my career, that I refused to get serious with any of my suitors. Well eventually I had to get over that notion quick, because I did want to get married and have a family! So my message here is that if you have to be focused in one area for a certain time don’t forget the other areas of your life.

Did you have a Mentor, Coach or Sponsor along the way that was essential to your growth and success? If so, who was it and why?

I would quickly say that my greatest sponsors in life have been my parents. They set the initial foundation for me that faith and family are critical to being able to succeed, to take things in stride, and to know that whatever happens in the outside world your family loves you. My parents are very devoted to education and they saw to it that my brothers, my sister and I would have an excellent early start and be able to go anywhere from there.  My parents, and I would add my whole family, also taught us the value of a great work ethic. We are all known for being hard workers at whatever we do. Regarding a business mentor, there always has to be more than one. You will need a mentor to help with technical things, and you will need a mentor who can help you navigate the environment of your company, the politics of your company, and/or help you think through what your next steps should be, even if that means leaving your company for better opportunities!

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?

The most rewarding aspect of what I do is helping an organization grow, whether that is my own family business, my clients’ businesses, or my nonprofit organizations.

If you could give one piece of advice for the women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be?

The one piece of advice I would give to a young lady starting out in their career is don’t give everyone else your best and then save yourself for last. Your own health, both physical and mental are critical. And if you don’t help yourself, and care for yourself, it will lead to things like exhaustion, chronic disease, anxiety, or depression; and you will not be able to reach your own goals, mush less help anyone else!

 

Follow Karen on LinkedIn and check out her website at http://keysuccessfactors.net

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