Love of Math Leads to Role of CFO

daniel_karenKaren Daniel serves company and community

Karen Daniel is passionate about numbers, and mentoring. With a lengthy list of accomplishments to her credit, Daniel uses both to serve her employer and her community.

The two passions have led to her current position as chief financial officer at the multinational engineering firm Black and Veatch, and to recognition as a mentor both to co-workers and to women in the community.

When explaining how she chose a “finance” career, Daniel said that it was actually by default.

“My first choice was to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps and be an elementary school educator. However, family and mentors advised that my personality and lack of patience didn’t lend themselves to teaching young children,” said Daniel. “Eventually, I chose my finance career because of a proficiency in math, with an interest in business.”

Initially, Daniel, a graduate of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management with a M.S. in accounting, aspired to become a certified public accountant and work as an auditor, but instead she joined B&V.

In addition to her role as CFO, Daniel also is a member of the board of directors of B&V, and president of iMG, B&V’s asset management company. She has been instrumental in leading global financial operations that include treasury, tax, financial reporting and budgeting; investment management; and strategy development; and is the executive sponsor for the company’s asset management and Sub-Saharan Africa growth efforts.

Daniel’s work in this arena led to her recent selection for President Obama’s Advisory Council for Doing Business in Africa, where she will represent B&V as the council seeks opportunities for the U.S. and Africa to strengthen investments and create jobs by doing more business together.

“This responsibility is important to me as it is reflective of our family heritage,” said Daniel. “In the 1950s my grandfather, as a firefighter, moved the family to Liberia for a year to assist with development of public safety – fire and police protection.”

Daniel is passionate about developing and mentoring future leaders, both in her company and her community. And, like her grandfather, she says she wants to participate in finding solutions to problems, using her ability to break down complicated issues into simplified, straightforward solutions that are more easily understood.

“I’m most excited about being part of teams that provide solutions and/or strategies for complicated problems; demonstrate our family beliefs of honoring our elders, being honest and supporting each other; and give back to the community with emphasis on education, women and children.”

“The most challenging part of my job is maintaining balance between my job responsibilities, my passion for sharing knowledge through designing and facilitating global executive business acumen training, and my commitment to making a difference in the community,” said Daniel.

Daniel was raised to emulate elders who served the community through their work, such as educators and firefighters. She says she was taught that immediate neighbors and the community were extensions of the family, resulting in family values around sharing, protecting and helping those who are less fortunate. As an adult, this evolved into dedicating time and money to improving her community.

Daniel served on the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, the Greater Kansas City Chamber and the Kansas City Missouri Parks Board, leading the $80 million restoration of the Liberty Memorial. She also is a member of the Women’s Employment Network board.

At the Liberty Memorial, there is a brick with the inscription “The courage to lead change is our legacy and our future – Daniel Family.”

“My biggest dream is that our family and future leaders commit to harmony, which means differences are respected and a recognition that there is strength in diversity,” said Daniel.

Daniel was 10 years old when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, and during that time, she said her mom gave her some of the best advice she ever received.

“Dr. King has given his life for us. And when his efforts materialized into opportunities, we owed it to him and the cause to seize the moment. That is, work hard at what you choose to do as a job and in all cases treat people well. How you treat people is the only real legacy you leave.”

Daniel will be honored at UMKC’s Alumni Awards Luncheon with her fellow 2015 Alumni Awardeeson April 23 at Swinney Recreation Center. The luncheon is one of the university’s largest events and proceeds support student scholarships. Last year’s luncheon attracted nearly 600 attendees and garnered more than $117,000 in student scholarships.

Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

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