Karen was born in Montreal, moved to South Africa at the age of five where she lived for seven years. Returning to Canada in 1976, Fredericton became her new home, where she has lived since then. Karen has been married for 31 years, and has two adult sons who also choose to make Fredericton their home.
Karen joined Kiers Marketing, a full service marketing and design agency in 1990, and along with two other employees, purchased the business in 2002. Karen’s role at Kiers is management of the business – projects, staff, and the business as a whole. Kiers offers marketing and design services which include branding, website design, marketing services including graphic design.
Karen very much enjoys being involved in her community. Community involvement includes treasurer for Fredericton District Soccer Association for 12 years (and at one point was also the competitive program director for two years), a member of Soccer New Brunswick’s competitive league, was a member of Fredericton’s Women in Business Network and, prior to joining the board, a member of several committees of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and was chair of the bid committee, and subsequently organizing committee, as host of the Canadian Chamber Annual Meeting in 2017. Karen is the 1st VP of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, after joining the board of directors in 2014.
What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?
I am most proud, that despite an ownership change in 2002, Kiers continues to be a respected marketing and design firm in our market. Several of our clients have been with us for at least fifteen years. Our team strives to provide the best marketing and design solutions to our clients. Kiers was the winner of Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s business excellence award in 2011, and a finalist in 2017.
What’s your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years. What’s our biggest opportunity now?
I want to see Atlantic Canada be prosperous - a strong economy, with significant population growth. Our biggest opportunity right now is immigration. We have many international students coming to our region to study, many want to stay here, make a life for themselves and either start a business, or contribute to an existing business. We need to make immigrants to our region feel welcome, not just in words but by our actions. Government needs to review policies to ensure an easier transition for eligible immigration. Government also needs to support small business to help them be successful, as we are big contributors to the economy through employment.
What was your greatest state of growth? What made it a shift for you?
My biggest stage of growth came in 2002, when I went from employee to business owner. Although the majority of my day to day duties did not change, my mindset changed. Never a big networker, I had to step out of my comfort zone. It was important for me to meet new people, to surround myself with people who I could learn from, attend events where I could not only network, but also learn something that I could take back and implement in the business.
What’s your favorite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
My favorite book is Mitch Albom’s “Tuesdays with Morrie” because it highlights the importance of relationships. Relationships are very important to me, personally and in business. They’re especially important in business, as you need to have good relationships with clients to keep your business alive. I also enjoy listening to Terry O’Reilly’s “Under the Influence” podcasts, his insight in the world of marketing is excellent.
What’s your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
Sometimes we need to expand outside our comfort zone – don’t get too comfortable. It’s important to be competitive in business you need to keep evolving.
What would you have done differently?
It’s easy to look back and say, if I could do it all again, I would do this or that differently. I think it’s important to leave the past in the past, learn from it, and apply any learning or take-away to the future. Focus on the future, rather than the past.
Who’s inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
I have been inspired by many people in my professional career through various groups and organizations I’ve been involved in. I don’t want to name them, for fear of leaving someone out. However, my biggest inspiration was my mother. A single parent for most of my life, she inspired me to work hard each and every day, have a good work ethic, not to take anything for granted, and to do nothing but your best every day. She definitely played a key role in developing the person I am today.
What were your priorities and how did they help you overcome some of the struggles you’ve faced? What motivated you to make the choices you’ve made?
When struggling with a choice, a decision, or a problem, I think about these priorities: Clients, staff, the image of Kiers, and my role as a volunteer in the community. Decisions I make should positively impact and affect my top priorities.
What are the principles you live by?
Always be on time. Be organized. Work hard and do your best. Admit when you’ve made a mistake. Don’t make excuses.
How have you recovered from fractured professional relationships?
I value relationships and work hard at them. It’s hard not to take it personally when an employee or client decides to move on. I try hard not to let my feelings take over, to be the bigger person and not let it affect me personally. It does take me a bit of time to get over a fractured relationship, as I see it as a failure on my part.
Organized, Sincere, Family-Oriented, Community Involvement