Seven months ago, I became the president of our company. I knew it was time to make this move. We had worked extensively as a team over the past several years to develop the foundations for growth, and I really wanted to contribute directly to our future growth.

Assets I acquired along the way
• As a CPA, CA for Ernst & Young, I learned the value of listening to your customers. Listening is probably one of the most important, yet underrated, business skills. Clients trusted me to deliver tax consulting services that would help them improve their business, and it was only through listening to them that I could deliver relevant and valuable service.
• Listening skills have also led to pretty strong negotiating skills. Basically, my experience has been that if you listen and empathize with others, you can achieve common ground on just about anything.
• In my prior role at Imprint Plus, I had worked to implement lean manufacturing across the company. The efficiencies gained have enabled us, as a small manufacturing company to do business with huge multinational corporations without sending our manufacturing offshore. It also enabled me to see true value and how we can ensure it is delivered to our customers.
• Developing skills in others has been a skill I have developed over the years. It is truly a joy to help a team member develop and succeed.

Taking a pause in the middle of a situation to think about the non-obvious solution is a skill I have begun to develop in my current role. Surprisingly, it is the most challenging skill of all, but one that often carries the day and distinguishes a leader.

On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
We strive to provide exceptional customer service, to delight our customers with innovative products, and to deliver our products with minimal environmental impact. We embrace technology, and have a lean approach to doing business, which allows us to minimize waste and focus on what customers truly value.

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
Marla Kott, our CEO, has been a mentor to me since I began working at this company fifteen years ago. Her exacting standards and her belief that I will always succeed have motivated me to push myself beyond my own expectations. The bar is always set higher, and this type of thinking has developed in me an outlook of possibility, rather than limitation.

Kristen’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
It takes a lot of work to figure out what inspires you in your work. Make sure you focus on finding what it is you love to do. Try different things until you find it. You will know when you get there!