NEA Women in Business: Dr. Karen McDaniel

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Dr. Karen McDaniel
Arkansas State University, Associate President of Management

Residence: Jonesboro
Education: B.S.B.A, management, mathematics, data processing, accounting, secondary education, Union University; M.B.A., management, Union University; Ph.D, organizational behavior and human resource management, University of Memphis
Professional background: In addition to being a tenured professor at ASU, McDaniel has served as the director of graduate programs at the school. She has served as the faculty athletics representative and the chair of the management and marketing program.

What was your dream job as kid and why?

I knew when I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a teacher. My grandfather gave me a chalkboard. I would come home from kindergarten and line my baby dolls up at a desk and teach them everything I learned in school that day.

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far?

I teach a graduate Leadership Development course in the MBA program. It has been awarded Signature Course Distinction for its interdisciplinary and experiential approach. The main themes of the course are Leadership, Professional Development, Networking, and Community Service.

Students have a lot of interaction with community leaders, attend Chamber of Commerce events, do community service projects and tour businesses. One semester, I had students ranging in ages of 21 to over 45, some with no work experience to individuals with 20 plus years of military experience, and seven different countries represented. We all learned so much from each other.

I have been teaching this course for over four years now, and each semester students from prior classes come to give back to the new class. One semester, I had at least one representative from six different former classes at the final presentation of the current class. We build a lasting bond in the course. It is magical.

Dr. Karen McDaniel.

Can you share what you have learned about your business from the COVID-19 pandemic?

The first week of March, I was at Harvard University taking a class in Crisis Leadership in Higher Education. We had a case assignment to read over the week regarding a crisis. The first day of class, the professor said scratch that case, we are going to use the real time COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The main takeaways from that course are that leaders across the country are faced with many difficult decisions and have many different stakeholders. No matter what decisions are made, someone is going to be upset. So, respect leaders who are trying to do the best they can to make well-informed decisions in the midst of an international crisis.

What’s your favorite app at the moment?

LinkedIn. It is a great way to build your network.

Of all the mentors in your professional career, who has been the most influential and why?

I have had many mentors over the years. It is said that, people come into your life at the right moment. I have had many mentors give me advice at the time I needed it. If I had to choose one life-changing mentor, it would be a college professor who believed that I, a small town girl from Lexington, Tenn., could obtain a Ph.D.

How do you spend your time away from work? What are your hobbies?

In my spare time, I like to work. My cats are my greatest hobby and sometimes they help me work.

What character traits do you feel have benefited you in your success?

Grit, tenacity, determination, persistence, and integrity. I always liked the saying that good things come to those who work hard, have sleepless nights, do not give up, are passionate about what they do, and make it happen.

What’s the last good book you read?

“Discover Your True North” by Bill George.

What is something distinctive that people would be surprised to know about you?

When I was in high school, I was captain of the flag and the rifle color guards in our band.

What’s your biggest passion and why?

My Leadership Development course. It is such a blessing to see people develop their leadership skills. In the course, our class does community service projects. Giving back to the community would be another passion at the top of my list. When I combine the two together, it is such a rewarding feeling.

What’s the next big personal or career challenge you plan to take on?

Whatever it is, it will be big and impactful.

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it?

Push myself to continue to expand my leadership knowledge and opportunities, spend more time with my family, and focus on striving for excellence and being the best that I can be without regard to the expectations and judgments of others.

What advice would you give young women who are at the beginning of their careers?

I would advise to build your network and get outside of your comfort zone. It is so interesting to meet other people and hear unique perspectives. It is all about networking. You never know when that network will come back around. Networking comes easier to some than others, one should not be afraid to get outside of their comfort zone and learn new things from new people. It is fascinating what you will learn and the unforeseen opportunities that may arise when you least expect it.