ComplianceJune 25, 2024

Q&A with Karen Abramson, WOMENLEAD24 Keynote Speaker

Wolters Kluwer CEO of Corporate Performance and ESG, Karen Abramson, is excited to be the opening keynote speaker for WOMENLEAD24 this year.

Karen Abramson is a prominent leader in the tech industry who has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and Chief Executive. She will share her unique perspective on the pivotal role of EHS professionals in leading the ESG transformation. NAEM’s Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt recently sat down with Karen to discuss her career journey, ahead of the conference.

Carol: What inspires you about your role at Wolters Kluwer?

Karen: I am a change agent. I love innovating and taking things to the next level, and that means driving transformation. Leading the CP & ESG Division at Wolters Kluwer enables me to do all of that. This division allows us to better serve our customers and drive accelerated growth in the core areas of the businesses comprising the division, and in the emergent ESG technology space. I am honored to lead this division as a growth driver for Wolters Kluwer and solve pain points for our customers.

Carol: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Karen: Early on in my career, Wolters Kluwer CEO Nancy McKinstry talked to me about how to integrate family and work life. She said that every day, there will be competing priorities, and some days, one will take precedence over the other. She encouraged me to give myself a break and to not always make work the priority or home always the priority because it’s impossible! Instead, she told me to prioritize the need and hope the days the two aspects of my life conflicted were few and far between. This advice has helped me and my husband raise my daughter, who starts her second year of college this fall.

Carol: What advice do you have for other women in EHS & Sustainability?

Karen: As an EHS professional, it's common to serve the business without having positional power. However, to effectively do your job, you need to influence the entire business. Whether you're the first dedicated EHS professional or new to your organization, it's likely that you must work across departments to gather the necessary information.

My biggest advice is to do your homework. Take the time to understand the business, financials, customers, products, and personalities. This will make you a better business partner to all stakeholders. Listen, ask questions, and come prepared to meetings with thoughtful insights. When stakeholders see that you grasp the context, financial implications, technology considerations, and industry landscape, they will want you at the table and invite you back.

Now, when it comes to advancing your skills and career, embrace discomfort. If you aren't a little scared of your job, you may need a new one. Research has shown that men apply for jobs when they meet 60% of the qualifications, while women only apply if they meet 100%. To progress, raise your hand for stretch assignments and tough tasks that others avoid. Seize opportunities when job openings arise, even if you don't meet all the qualifications. If there's a skill gap holding you back, fill it. Seek out committees or experiences that expose you to the skills you want to develop. Find a mentor who possesses those skills. And remember, even when you feel inadequate, just go for it.

Carol: What quote inspires you?

Karen: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead

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