Karen Friar strives to lead with a positive vision, painting it clearly for others and providing a sense of purpose.
As the chief financial officer at Benco Dental, these qualities have contributed to her success. In her day-to-day work, she is inspired by assembling a team that consists of talented, cohesive people who have a clear definition of purpose.
"I always start with the belief that we are all winners, and everyone wants to work on a winning team," she said. "I also believe in appropriate risk-taking and managing those risks well. I know mistakes will occur, but I expect that we all have the agility to pivot and always, always, always learn from our successes or failures."
Striving to be an accomplished executive and a loving mother, she firmly believes that neither goal should suffer for pursuit of the other. The young woman joined Benco as a staff accountant in 1999 following graduation from Bloomsburg University. She earned her MBA from Wilkes University and the Certified Management Accountant designation from the Institute of Management Accountants. In 2015, she assumed the Interim CFO role at Benco Dental and helped steer the company through the most successful year, including the completion of several key projects.
Promoted to the CFO role one year later, her responsibilities now include partnering with business leaders to create value for the organization and customers. She focuses on driving continued profitable growth and oversees the finance teams, accounting and financial reporting and planning and analysis, treasury, internal audit, risk management and taxation.
"I have deep compassion to always do the right thing for the team and the organization," she said. "It is essential others understand why they do what they do. If someone doesn't understand, then I'm not doing my job. Finally, I respect when a leader displays a high level of emotional intelligence, exhibits the characteristics of servant leadership and leads with the mindset of ‘we' and not ‘me.'"
During her tenure at Benco, one of her best successes has been becoming a mother. As the mother of three, she has learned to quickly integrate work and family on the fly and has not only managed to survive, but also thrive in her career.
Friar is an avid fan of joining opportunities to participate in community walks, rallying friends to partake in events and making monetary donations that support good causes. She belongs to the two local advisory boards representing Leadership Wilkes-Barre and the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business at Wilkes University.
Of her many mentors, she says her parents, Chester and Stella Kuklewicz, top the list. They taught her grit at an early age, for which she will be forever thankful.
Her husband, Ned Friar, a reflection of who she is because of the amazing things he has taught her, is also instrumental in her life.
Finally, the Cohen family of Benco Dental has taught her for the past 20 years to relentlessly focus on what matters most to customers and be a successful businesswoman.
"It is an honor and pleasure to work for an organization such as Benco," she said.
"My role as a female executive lets me demonstrate to my colleagues the strengths that are unique to women – and that we have no limitations on achieving our career goals," she concluded.