Karen Walker spends a lot of time on airplanes. A few weeks every month, she’s traveling to Atlanta, Boston, Denver, New York and San Francisco for her business, One Team Consulting. Walker doesn’t mind the travel since at the end of each trip she gets to come back home to Shelburne.
Most of Walker’s clients are mid-size firms, but some are start-ups. She has also done some executive coaching, including work with Seventh Generation. “We work with CEOs and other senior leaders to help them create internal strategies,” she said. “Primarily, we’re looking at people processes and tools to support and fuel external growth.”
The majority of the businesses she works with are in the technology field, and several are in the Fortune 100. Walker helps management understand exactly what their company is doing and why, and provides assistance with the hiring process and strategy. She addresses three questions with her clients: Are you doing your best work? Is your organization aligned to drive agility, growth, and efficiency? If not, why not?
Walker spent 14 years working for Compaq Computers, beginning when they were a start-up. “We went from no revenue to $15 billion dollars,” she said. “I was managing a very large global group with hundreds of employees and thousands of contractors and consultants.” After leaving Compaq, she continued her education at Columbia University, where she graduated from the Organizational Development and Human Resource Management program.
While splitting her time between Sausalito, Calif. and New York, Walker met her husband Bob. They combined his business and psychology background with her engineering background to form One Team Consulting 20 years ago. At the same time, they decided to move to Vermont.
“We wanted a beautiful place and a supportive community,” Walker said, “and we needed to be near an airport. When we got here I thought I had died and gone to heaven.” When Bob retired eight years ago he declared himself done with cold weather, but Walker, who grew up in the desert of West Texas, isn’t ready to give up skiing. Although the couple lives in Florida in the winter, she comes up to Vermont regularly to get her snow fix and happily reports that she was able to take full advantage of the big powder windfall last March.
Although Walker travels a lot for work, she also enjoys having some clients close to home. She has consulted with the Vermont Agency of Human Resources on their reorganization plan and with Champlain College on their 2020 strategy, a process that required the entire organization’s cooperation to develop a coherent plan for the future. Nearby projects give Walker an opportunity to work without going to an airport.
“The community here is so strong and so conscious about wanting to be here and making it a good place to live,” she said of Shelburne. “After 20 years, I wake up and can’t believe how beautiful it is and how fortunate I am.”