Karen Kaplan

“You can make your mark in every single job.” ~Karen Kaplan

Karen Kaplan

Karen Kaplan
Image: Hill Holliday

Karen Kaplan was hired as a receptionist at Hill Holiday by the president of the company.  It was only supposed to be a temporary position before entering law school, but she ended up staying.  After interviewing and rejecting forty applicants, he told Kaplan “Congratulations, Karen, you are now the face and the voice of Hill Holliday.”

The statement stuck with her, and while she knew her position was important, Karen Kaplan felt the face and the voice of the company should be a CEO.  So, she decided that she was the CEO of the front desk.  She continued with that mindset through all of her positions at the firm, and thirty-one years later she has the top title officially.  She says that she occasionally sees people who remember her as a receptionist and tell her that she was the best receptionist they had ever seen.  She says that as a leader, she wants everyone to feel like they can be a CEO of any position and encourages entrepreneurial thinking.

As someone who had been told early on that she was the lowest on the totem pole and had faced adversity by jealous coworkers when she started, Kaplan says that she loves to hire people for positions that they wouldn’t be traditionally qualified for and see what they can accomplish.

The company vision, unveiled in June shortly after Kaplan’s promotion, is “to be the best creatively driven modern agency in the country.”  She says they are well on their way, and 2012 was the best revenue year for the nation’s third largest agency yet.  Part of the success for last year was winning the largest account on the market with a Bank of America campaign.  They also landed the largest offering for 2013 so far with Cadillac.  Kaplan says Hill Holliday can serve large conglomerates well because they are extremely fast and versatile within the moving parts of a company.

Karen Kaplan is very active in the Boston business community and sits on various organizational boards, including chairing the chamber of commerce.  She is also part of the Clinton Global Initiative and the Massachusetts Women’s Forum

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