Alum Karen Cambray ’88 Serves as Keynote Speaker at the Sigma Iota Epsilon Induction Ceremony
Karen Cambray, chief financial officer at Cartera Commerce in Lexington and the Boston Business Journal’s 2014 CFO of the Year in the mid-size private company category, offered the keynote address at this year’s Sigma Iota Epsilon (SIE) induction ceremony. Cambray’s speech to the 94 inductees and their parents was based on her reflections over her 27-year career and what career advice she would give if writing a letter to her younger self. Her advice focused on three themes:
Continue to learn and challenge yourselves. She reminded students to seek out new skills and experiences and to add ‘tools to your toolbox’. She encouraged them to really push themselves at times because the greatest learning often comes when you are out of your comfort zone.
“You are all extremely smart – be confident in your skills and abilities. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. When you do make a mistake, own it, learn from it, and move on. People will remember that you worked hard, did the right thing and had integrity, not the mistakes you made.”
Seek out mentors throughout your career. “There are many people out there who are more than happy to help you and share their experiences and teach you what they learned. Good mentors are really invaluable. Find a few that you feel good about calling and asking for advice. And, at some point you will be in a position to mentor someone. Remember to pay it forward when that time comes.”
Persevere through difficult times. “Life constantly throws challenges our way, both personal and professional ones. Just remember, it is the same in business as in life, it is honestly never as bad as it seems. Don’t be discouraged when things get to be challenging. Just do your very best, and do it thoughtfully and with integrity. You cannot go wrong.”
As she thought back to the start of her career, Cambray recalled that she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do but knew that she wanted to learn new things and have new experiences. She managed her early career by making choices that helped her to acquire new skills, learn new things, and ‘add tools to her toolbox’ that would help her to be successful in whatever career path she chose. Along the way, she tapped into the expertise and guidance from the senior financial and management mentors she had met or worked with at some point in her career. The summation of those skills, experiences, and advice enabled her to have the job she has today.
Cambray was impressed with the SIE event and especially the students being honored. “I was really happy to participate in the ceremony. Induction into SIE is a prestigious honor earned through hard work and dedication, and I was really proud to be able to talk to the students and celebrate their achievement. These students worked really hard to excel. They should be very proud, and I am sure they will be successful. It seems that Merrimack is really helping to prepare them for their careers, and I feel great about that,” she said.