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The CIO Today
Trusted By:
Keisha A Rivers

 Keisha A Rivers

  • Brief us about your outset story of your career.

My career as it is now started in a non-traditional way.  I began as a Marketing major at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, but after taking an elective course in “Teaching Children’s Literature” and seeing the “ah-ha” moment of understanding in the eyes of the kids I was teaching, I was hooked!  It wasn’t enough for me to create marketing campaigns and share messages and stories for brands.  Instead, I wanted to make a difference and create a long-term impact on those I worked with.  I changed my major to education, went on to become an educator and then shifted again when I transitioned into consulting and working with organizations. With my combined backgrounds in education and business, I created an approach to engagement, learning and leadership that has enabled me to equip organizations in their quest to create safe spaces for their people to feel seen, heard, and valued in the midst of uncertainty. 

  • What are the aims and ideals that guide you as an individual and a professional?

What truly guides and motivates me is a sense that everyone deserves to work in an environment that enables them to show up fully, wholly, and authentically.  I want to create a world where people are celebrated for who they are and valued for the gifts, talents, and abilities they bring to the table—not punished, dismissed, or diminished because they don’t “fit in” or are like everyone else. I believe in inclusive, innovative leadership and strive to demonstrate integrity, empathy, and a sense of wonder at what’s possible with all of my clients.  I believe we show up as who we really are in all aspects of our lives—both personally and professionally—so I strive to be 100% authentically ME in every situation.  After all, you can’t ask others to do what you aren’t willing to do for yourself, right?

  • Enlighten us about your greatest strength. How are you different from others in your field?

My greatest strength is my ability to see the big picture vision of what success truly looks like in action for client organizations, and then craft a roadmap that guides them along their journey through the process.  I’m unique in my approach to consulting because of my people-centered and learning-centered views.  Everything a client organization does needs to be rooted in how they can best equip and support their people through the process of change.  This goes well beyond a simple checklist of tasks and things to do.  It starts with the heart of an organization and extends outward to impact each individual, team, leader and client.  My focus on the people side of change sets me apart from others because I’m able to create long-term, systemic change that is sustainable.

  • Please tell us about your organisation. What are your primary roles and responsibilities? Can you please walk us through the major accomplishments throughout your journey?

As President, CEO and Chief Outcome Facilitator of The KARS Group LTD, I serve as the organizational leader, strategist, and visionary.  In this role, I work with client leaders to craft a vision of success, determine a strategy, and oversee the action plan to guide them along the journey.  Within my organization, I work closely with my team to encourage, motivate, educate, and guide them towards success.  It is our overall responsibility to create opportunities for our clients to become equipped to provide safe environments where their people are seen, heard, and valued.  Some of my major accomplishments in this journey include: being recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Women of Mecklenburg County for my work with client organizations and community initiatives; the responses I receive from people who tell me that I’ve been an inspiration to them; and the young women I have mentored who I can see blossom and become leaders of impact in their own right.

  • How did you respond to the challenges induced by the COVID-19 pandemic? What measures did you incorporate to surpass the challenges?

My company has been virtual since we launched in 2005, so there weren’t very many adjustments that my team had to make logistically in working and collaborating together in a remote environment.  What did shift however, was our focus and the type of work that we were called to do with our client organizations.  COVID-19 brought a tsunami of requests for our services, and we had to shift and scale at a rapid pace to keep up with demand. The best outcome from this challenge was the creation of our new KARS Learning Pathway and the launch of our online KARS Learning Center.  This enabled us to serve more client organizations and led to a shift in the way we delivered learning sessions.  With so many client organizations being decentralized because of remote work, we were able to met the needs of their people where they were, instead of having to bring everyone together.  It’s a difficult thing to create a learning community when people aren’t physically in the room, but we were able to create an engaging, safe and collaborative environment that led to break-throughs and mindset shifts, which people were able to apply to their daily work.

  • Who in your life inspires you the most?

I am inspired by people who show up fully, wholly, authentically, and unapologetically as themselves each and every day.  Those who share their experiences, lift others up during their journey, and use their voice in constructive ways to educate and advocate for others.  There are a number of close friends and colleagues who inspire me daily with their quiet tenacity, bravery, and commitment to do their work and show up to share their gifts, talents, and abilities with the world.

  • What advice would you give to the next generation of aspiring and budding Business people?

The advice I would give to the next generation of aspiring and budding business people is simple – find your sweet spot.  Do that thing that allows you to show up fully, wholly, authentically, and unapologetically YOU.  Align who you are; what you believe in; and a vision of how to create a ripple effect of change, growth and development with the service you bring to the world.  In this way, you’re able to let who you are and the journey you take to becoming a better version of yourself influence others in positive ways.