We are thrilled to introduce Karen Dernavich, a senior manager at Jabian who is passionate about driving strategy and innovation through to execution in a variety of settings. Karen’s talents don’t stop there, in addition to her corporate work, she is also an accomplished home educator and founder of the Duet Project, an organization that provides music therapy scholarships for children and adults with disabilities. Her dedication to improving the lives of others through music therapy is truly inspiring, and we are proud to have her on our team!

Q: Where did you join from and what brought you to Jabian?  

A: A road less traveled by way of Accenture, homeschooling, government, and the quest to do what I love: building relationships and solving problems alongside caring and bright people.

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?  

A: An opportunity to see how far we have come on the shoulders of those who have come before us. 

Q: What has been your experience with being a woman in corporate America?  

A: I have been blessed with bosses and leaders that encouraged, coached, and challenged me to meet the challenges of the workplace and go after whatever I wanted. 

Q: In what ways can women support other women in the workplace? How have you experienced that at Jabian?  

A: Be authentic, share your experience, your lessons learned, and encourage everyone to recognize that we each have our own path and what works for one, may not work for another. I have been blessed with multiple careers. I have been able to have it all, just not at the same time. That is my path, I don’t know what yours will be, but I encourage you to seek, find, and blaze your own trail. Jabian has encouraged me at every turn to go after what I am passionate about and to take the time to mentor those behind me. 

Q: Are there any moments, people, or advice that have influenced your experience in a positive way at Jabian?  

A: I have been extremely impressed with the caliber of talent and heart at Jabian. Tracy Reznik has been a fantastic mentor. She recognizes my strengths and weaknesses and challenges me to grow and learn from them. Most importantly, she constantly challenges me to stay in alignment with my goals and boundaries. Dan Gordon, Fred Jewell, Dan Sterling, Dan Noyd, Jeff Hancock, Ryan Briley, Bill Jagrowski, and Sterling Jackson have all been steadfast cheerleaders and challengers and I am grateful for the time they take to invest in me. Together, we are enjoying the journey!

Q: What is one thing you would tell your starting-out self if you could? Is that advice still relevant for women starting in the field today? 

A: Stay curious, ask for candid feedback, and when someone offers to teach you something, take them up on it! Look for leaders that embody what you value and ask them to mentor you. Listen to wise council and remember to run your own race! 

Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? How can we overcome that? 

A: Often we get in our own way with doubt and timidity. Be open to opportunities and surround yourself with mentors who will help you see yourself as others see you.

Q: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders? 

A: What I would say to anyone wanting to wear the mantle of leadership: consider others ahead of yourself; empower your people; stay curious; and remember you can learn from everyone. 

Q: What are some challenges that remain for women today?  

A: Equal pay is probably one of the most impactful challenges women face in the workforce. Whether it is because we don’t negotiate as well up front, advocate for our value as we move up the ranks, or others intentionally take advantage and pay us less, the impact is the same: we have to find a way to do more with less.    

Q: What have been your keys to success? How can we honor women well in the workplace?  

A: I have been blessed with amazing opportunities, mentors, and working for companies that care about their people. As the workforce evolves and women excel in their careers, raise their families, and fight for work-life balance, we would do well to support them in working flexible schedules that allow them to balance all of these things in a way that makes sense for them.      

Karen Dernavich