Women in Leadership: Interview with Kari Hagan

As part of our Women in Leadership series, we want to highlight the professional challenges and career aspirations of the women in leadership roles at Fleet Response. To start off we interviewed, Director of Client Development, Kari Hagan. Below, she shares her female role models, how she balances being a professional, as well as a mother, and what has her most excited about the future.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your professional journey. 

Hagan: I graduated from Miami University (Ohio) with degrees in Business and Communications. Prior to Fleet Response, I spent seven years at Dots Corporate Office, handling all store communications.

I have now been at Fleet Response for over seven years. Over that time, I’ve had four different titles and many different roles, with each one playing a big part in learning and growing both my business knowledge and professional experience.

Q: Who is your favorite female role model and why?

Hagan: It has always been my Grandmother, Irene. She raised two children and was married for over 40 years. After my Grandfather passed away, she continued the mission they started for the next 30 years of her life through volunteer work. She traveled often to different countries for service focused on peace and economic development. Yet what I most respected was her humility and grace. She dedicated her life to helping and serving others, expecting nothing in return beyond friendships and her own personal growth, and never missed a birthday or special occasion with her family.

There are many famous women I respect like Oprah, Michelle Obama, Dolly Parton, Tracy Chapman and most recently Callie Brownson, who have paved the way in their own fields recently but appear to remain people of integrity. Being able to have a professional impact but also live a balanced life you can be proud of outside of the spotlight is what makes me appreciate a role model.

Q: How have you balanced being a mother and a professional?

Hagan: Organization and knowing myself and my limits. Both are demanding jobs, and the more organized and prepared I am in daily life, the more I’m able to handle something unexpected or quickly make changes within a day. Also, keeping a perspective of why you do what you do is important. Without both in my life, I really believe I would be less successful at either one and less fulfilled overall. In times when I struggle with the balance, I take time to reset, focus on the reason for my choices, and turn to people like my husband and family to ask for help when needed.

Q: What do you think helped you get so far in your career?

Hagan: Hard work, patience, and a desire to continue to grow with every experience. Every job I’ve had, starting back in high school and college, gave me the perspective and experience needed to acquire and be prepared for my next challenge. I look up to my father for examples of hard work and responsibility, and I have taken major life lessons and key professional experiences from every job along the way. I wouldn’t be as successful where I am today without each of those experiences.

Q: What’s unique about the service that Fleet Response provides?

Hagan: Our business is relationship-driven, in a very direct way with our clients. It’s a company where the people truly matter, as we’re providing a service as opposed to a tangible good. We’re also a very niche business, but our products and offerings change often as needs in the market change, as do our customizations for clients to find a solution that really works for their needs.

Q: What advice would you give to women who want to be in leadership roles?

Hagan: Work hard and focus on your own actions and things within your control. Create the change you want to happen. Know that you always have a choice and put yourself in the position to succeed by being prepared for opportunities and willing to take on a challenge.

Q: What has you most excited about the future?

Hagan: Fleet Response continues to grow and change. There is always a new challenge, a new problem to find a solution for, and a new project around the corner. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know it won’t be boring and I know I’ll continually have the ability learn and grow.