iMahal Interview Series:
Karen Snow
March 12, 2001

Karen Snow iMahal:  Karen, thanks for talking with us; we understand you are a very busy person. And you are a successful person in a variety of ways, which we are sure our readers will be very interested to learn about. Why don't we start with your current professional activities. You are an independent management consultant in marketing. Tell us, what kind of clients do you work for and what kind of engagements do you undertake?
Karen:  My expertise is in professional services marketing - this means companies who offer services instead of products. For example, consulting firms, public relations firms, design firms, accounting firms, etc. I have worked for all of the above, big ($10 billion) to small ($20 million). One of the reasons I decided to start my own business is that I enjoy diversity, both in the clients I serve, as well as the specific projects I lead. For example, now I am acting as an interim marketing head for a business unit of a major consulting firm as well as acting as marketing "counsel" to a small design firm. The challenges are very different, and I find that it stretches me professionally to toggle back and forth between them. It keeps me on my toes!
iMahal:  It sounds challenging. But, it also sounds risky to be going it alone professionaly. Prior to becoming an independent consultant, you had a successful career with Accenture (previously known as Andersen Consulting). What made you choose the path of independent consulting?
   ... I wanted a more flexible schedule so I could get more involved with my community ...
While I really enjoyed so many aspects of working for a consulting firm and it was a great experience - in fact, one that I would recommend highly - I felt it was time to strike out on my own for several reasons. First, I wanted more diversity in my work. Secondly, I wanted to get off of airplanes. I had a challenging travel schedule when I was with Accenture. Lastly, I wanted a more flexible schedule so I could get more involved with my community. While I still work hard, and perhaps even harder than when I was with Accenture, I have more control over my travel schedule. It has made a big difference in my life.
iMahal:  Now that must have been a big step. But for the personal rewards, you were willing to undertake the risks.
Karen:  Yes, it was a big step for me. It wasn't as if I felt it was risky; rather, it was more of an emotional adjustment to leave an organization that had become woven into the fabric of my life. I had spent 13 years there, so there were very strong bonds. The flipside to this is that it was also invigorating to be starting a new business - one that I could create to be anything I wanted it to be. I found that very exciting.
iMahal:  Being your own boss is a dream for many people, but many people who dream about it do not do it. Probably because of the fear of finding enough clients willing to pay you to work for them. Is it easy to find new engagements that you like? How do you go about generating new business for yourself?
Karen:  Most of my business is by referral. So far, I have been fortunate that the opportunities that have come my way have met the criteria I established for my business, have been interesting, have involved people that I enjoy, and have also been challenging. I don't have any desire at this point to grow a large marketing consulting business, so I haven't yet had to do much proactive marketing.




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