Karla E. Blair
Karla Blair has the right ingredients for success. First, she is modest about her achievements. Her modesty, combined with a voracious appetite for learning, positive outlook on life and a passion to give back to others makes her a role model to professionals young and old.
Blair’s first job was in a bakery, followed by a job as an administrative assistant. It was in her role as an assistant that she was exposed to bookkeeping, which fueled her desire to pursue accounting.
She is fond of her years spent at UW Oshkosh, especially since she experienced life as a college student twice. Her first time at UW Oshkosh was as a full time student in 1973, where she was a true collegiate coed, living in the dorms and participating in a sorority. After getting married and starting a family, she returned to UW Oshkosh, earning her bachelors of business degree in accounting in 1980. Her second time around was an experience in life balance and time management. When asked how she was able to balance career, school and a family, Blair responds by saying “I took it one day at a time and tried my best to enjoy everything along the way.”
Blair has spent her entire career at Schenck Business Solutions. In 1998, she was named partner of Schenck, making her one of the first women in Wisconsin to achieve the status of partner in an accounting firm. She is responsible for the payroll services division of Schenck Business Solutions. Under her leadership, the department’s revenues increased more than 25% in the last three years.
In addition to her career achievements, she is co-founder of Appleton’s Business Leadership Network, an organization developed to provide networking, support and scholarships for women. She serves on the board of directors for the Appleton Downtown Rotary, the Tri County Community Dental Clinic, and Paper Arts Festival. She is on the advisory board for the Community Foundation, where she serves on the Women’s Fund grants committee. She also is involved with the UW Oshkosh Accounting Advisory Board and the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants Educational Foundation.
Her honor as the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh College of Business outstanding alumna for 2004 is the capstone to an amazing year. She also received the Athena award for outstanding businesswoman in the Fox Valley a couple of months earlier. She is honored for the accolades, but is still pinching herself because she “never expected to get to where she is today.” Blair feels so blessed and credits her family for providing support and guidance along the way. One of her best distinctions will come her way in a couple of weeks, when she will add being a grandmother of twins to her list of achievements.