A straight-A student from the get-go is how Karen Kovacs – Group President of Brand and Category Sales at Time Inc. – speaks of her early academic life. Karen recently visited Synapse Group, Inc. to speak with our division of Women @ Time Inc. – a relatively new initiative supporting and facilitating career growth, coaching, and connection across the company and industry – about her high school self, career path, and continually looking forward.
Karen studied architecture in college, striving for an A in every class. However, the hours spent alone sketching for her classes brought to light how isolated she was from people. Ultimately, this experience taught her she wanted a career that involved being surrounded by people. That, along with her hardworking mentality, helped shape her successes at Time Inc.
Starting her professional career within the sales department of People magazine, Karen progressed through multiple sales positions within the Time Inc. company to eventually hold her current position of Group President, Brand Category and Sales. Always channeling on her motivated spirit, Karen explained three main aspects that greatly aided her growth:
- You can’t do it alone
Whether it’s a mentor or a sponsor, having someone in your corner is a must. However, they’re not necessarily the same thing. A mentor is someone that can guide you through corporate life, point out areas of growth or opportunity, be a resource. A sponsor is more direct; they actively speak out on your behalf, recommend you for projects, or offer your expertise to a problem at hand.
- Friends are important
Or your “Board of Trustees” as Karen called it. These are the people you go to bounce ideas off of, get advice from, or to hash out difficult conversations to be had with others. From emotional support to career advice, having good friends in the office is crucial to expanding your impact on the company and opening your eyes to new opportunities.
- It’s okay to take a step back
Moving forward can’t happen without a few steps back – that’s not life. Speaking from personal experience, Karen described a time when she needed to put her family before her career and took a step back from her responsibilities and, in turn, her role at the company. It’s definitely a scary thing to do, but sometimes you have to fight for yourself now as much as you fight for your future.
So what’s next for the forward thinker? Well, that’s what she asks herself everyday. Right now, she’s focusing on finding more time for culture, whether that’s hiking at Storm King Mountain, working out, or visiting an art exhibit in New York City.
With all the wisdom about growth that Karen imparted on the group, we can only look forward to seeing what the future of Time Inc. will be shaped into with her help.