It’s no surprise that Meyer’s EVP & CFO was honored by The Philadelphia Business Journal.
The Philadelphia Business Journal published its sixth-annual Minority Business Leader Awards, a program recognizing the Philadelphia region’s top minority business leaders based on demonstrated business success. Meyer is proud to announce that our Executive Vice President and CFO, Alicia Karr was awarded for her professional accomplishments, community leadership, philanthropy, awards, and milestones.
Alicia Karr led Meyer to maintain financially viability through the Great Recession, and helped the company grow its revenue 108%. She is the board chair of The Nationalities Service Center, which gives social, educational and legal services to immigrants and refugees in the region.
What makes you excited to come to work? This is an exciting time to be leading Meyer. We have experienced unprecedented growth over the past three years. The strategic conversations surrounding how to absorb and maintain that growth are what excite me. Currently, we are tackling issues such as technology’s impact on the design industry, big name competitors coming into the Philly market and how to preserve our entrepreneurial culture as we grow.
What would you say has been your life’s biggest challenge? Feeding my passion for serving others while working in a corporate environment. I thought for sure I would be living abroad working at an NGO. Somehow, I ended up running a design firm. Life is funny that way. I followed the opportunities life presented, but it wasn’t enough. I felt unfulfilled, which is why I began to explore joining a nonprofit board. It was intrinsically important to me to use my business skills to give back in a hands-on way. I am currently the board chair of Nationalities Service Center and on the boards of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Arts & Business Council Board, and of my neighborhood park, The Friends of Linwood Park. It can be overwhelming at times, but it feeds my soul.
Who has been your most valuable mentor and why? My mom!! My mom worked her way up from a bank teller to acting CIO at a major bank. She leads with compassion, kindness and a quiet strength that compels people to lean in. Her wisdom and innate ability to read situations quickly and accurately have been a blessing to me as I balance a rising career with a young family. There was no question that I would be successful; if my mom could do it, then so can I.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself just starting out in your career? Widen your circle. While I love interacting with people and can easily hold and carry a conversation, I am an introvert. This makes me hesitant to jump quickly into new professional and social circles. I have worked over the last few years to widen my circle and while I am having some success, it would have been much easier if I had started earlier.
In your opinion, what should be done to increase the number of minority-owned businesses in Greater Philadelphia? Collaboration across minority groups. There are plenty of networking groups for minorities based upon specifics of race or gender, but there is not much overlap in their efforts. Whether starting or running a business, all minorities face similar issues. If we would band together instead of compartmentalizing, then the number of successful minority-owned businesses will increase.
What is the biggest issue facing minority business people currently? Access, access, access. The Philadelphia business community remains insular. Access is usually dependent upon your school, your sport, and who you know. While I went to a top tier school, it wasn’t a local school. While I love sports, I didn’t grow up playing golf or tennis. While I was born and raised in the area, I grew up in the inner city, not the suburbs. As much as the cultural landscape is changing in Philly, the business world remains a place where even successful minorities can face difficulties breaking through.