Karina Larsen Evers: Developing as a Leader Through the NAWMBA Family
President, Houston Professional Chapter
Former VP of Marketing, Rice University Chapter
Marketing Manager at Arundo Analytics, Inc.
“What I’ve realized in my professional career is that you really need that network of people around you to fulfill your potential.”
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in NAWMBA.
I became a member of NAWMBA at Rice University in 2007 and was in the chapter until 2009 when I graduated. My second year I sat on the board as the VP of Marketing. That year we had our local chapter conference at Rice and in conjunction held all sorts of interesting events in professional development and cultural development as well. For example, once we held a wine social where an Argentinian native sommelier taught us how to understand wines. That was one of my first bridges into the professional world culturally. We were pushed to a national scale when a large contingent of us went to the national conference in DC. There our leadership was involved in with case competitions and all sorts of activities that pushed us on a platform nationally.
Is that what encouraged you to come back to NAWMBA as a professional member and then move into leadership there as well?
Yes, I moved away from Houston from 2009-2011. Upon my return in October 2011 I re-engaged with NAWMBA and by March I was nominated as Secretary of the Houston professional board! At that point, I was part of the history of NAWMBA in Houston. There was a familiarity to the organization because I was in it when I was at Rice University and it helped me get through school and bridge that connection into the professional world. It’s an organization where you form personal relationships with people and continue to foster relationships with women from different industries and with widely varying interests. In Houston, we really focus on the variety of experiences from professional women.
You work in oil and gas which is a male-dominated industry. What is it like being a woman in a male-dominated industry? And how have you navigated your way in that world?
Arundo is an anomaly in the industry, but just like any industry the difficult parts as a woman are salary negotiation and how to educate yourself on things that guys know and that they connect over. But the way that I deal with it is to dive into the world that I don’t know about. For example, I’m not an engineer but I still manage to talk the talk and walk the walk by diving into that world. Rice was instrumental in building a base in teaching me how to do that. Also, I’ve had fantastic managers at all of the companies I have worked at who really believed in me. I was able to learn things that I didn’t even think I would have the opportunity to dip my toe in. That’s where I realized that I was successful because of others. That concept was new to me because in school I was an athlete and it was a ‘rely on yourself’ situation. But what I’ve realized in my professional career is that you really need that network of people around you to fulfill your potential. The older you get, it might be tempting to take a position with more prestige or pay although it may not be what you want culturally. But that may mean that it’s not necessarily the fit for you. Just because a big brand wants you, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want to go with a startup that fits better with what you want to learn. You can be at the best brand, but if that’s not where you fit it won’t work.
How has that helped form the ethos of the Houston NAWMBA chapter at this point of leadership?
We have a board of people who want to leave a legacy where future boards can build on the infrastructure that we put in place. We also want to help women reach more of an equal playing field when it comes to cultural knowledge. That’s why we hold events such as the lessons with the Executive Women’s Golf Association and on salary negotiations, etc. We want to give women the opportunity to ask questions that they wouldn’t ask in their company and get mentorship from women they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. The women we meet from being in this organization have such alternate views of the world. These different perspectives are refreshing and teach us so much. The friendships that we form and the education that we receive from each other are invaluable.