Karen Pryor is Director I of Enrollment working with the Howard University School of Business, working specifically with the Executive MBA program. Beginning her career in Marketing & Sales, Pryor worked in various industries including Transportation and Event Management. After completing her MBA in 2012, she began a rewarding career in Higher Education and Recruitment with both on-ground and online learning institutions. As a part of Noodle, she hopes to continue helping students reach their educational goals, while also adding value to the company overall.
Meet Noodle Director of Enrollment for Howard University Karen Pryor
“What resonates with me is knowing your greatness, not allowing yourself to be defined by what others think of you. We should also continually try to learn about others who are different.”
What female figure in your personal life has been the most influential to you, and why?
My mom – the way she carries herself. She’s a realist, looking at life and taking it by the horns. She’s always said, “Take what you have and make what you want. It doesn’t matter if you’re given a little or a lot. It only matters what you do with it.” That’s how she’s dealt with life. My parents have always instilled in me a passion to make the most of what I’m given.
As a woman, what are the biggest challenges you face today in the business world and why?
It’s probably a question I grapple with daily – balancing everything without losing anything. Being married with children, I’ve made a choice to have a family as well as a career, but it’s a challenge to feel I’m doing the best for everything and everyone, especially with everyone working from home during lockdown. I always remind myself that I’m no less successful on any particular day as long as I give it my all.
With regard to pay disparity, today women in the U.S. earn 78 cents to every dollar that men earn. Why do you think this is so, and why do you think it is taking so long to close the pay gap?
The wage disparity that still remains a part of today’s society is in part because women are not seen accurately in terms of the roles we play in both the workforce and at home. When society is able to realize – as it is just starting to now – that despite the roles we play beyond the traditional 9 to 5, we still show up and meet and exceed the expectations placed upon us. For that, I hope the gap continues to close in a meaningful way.
Who is your favorite historical female figure and why?
It so happens I recently watched a documentary about the writer Toni Morrison. I am familiar with her work but learning about how she got where she was – all the hard work and all the years of struggle – made me appreciate her so much more. It resonated with me as a woman who’s also working and who wants a lot. She reminded me that there’s no time frame to accomplish what you want. People will catch up to you when it’s necessary.
Name an influential woman today who you think will have a great impact over the next 5-10 years and why.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has already gone so far, after simply deciding that she wanted to help her community. That’s something that really resonates with me. She still wants to fight for her people, and I think that’s going to have an impact for quite a while. She has remained true to her principles, and that’s really important for people to see.
What elements or traits do you think a strong female leader should have and why?
Having the opportunity to serve in a leadership role currently, I believe it’s important to remain empathetic, keeping a level of thought for those around you. That’s where your greatness is, and you don’t need to have someone tell you.
What is it about your background that successfully positioned you for your current role at Noodle?
Being the first in my immediate family to attend and graduate from college, education has always been important to me. In a way, working at Noodle is coming full circle. I have worked in education for nine years and it has always been key. For me to have the opportunity to speak with someone about their day- to-day life and to show how important education will be for them and for the generations that come after them, that is a big thing for me. To discuss how education can elevate you, that’s a conversation I love to have.
How do you build momentum as a leader among diverse stakeholders at Noodle?
By finding common ground. Even if everyone’s different, find the common ground you share. Here the common ground is that we all want our students to prosper. Once you know that you stand on that common ground, you then must work to approach the separate parts of that common goal.
What is the most effective tool in your leadership arsenal and why?
Hearing and seeing beyond what someone is saying to me to understand what’s not being said. Having worked in enrollment for some time, I’ve learned it’s important to have a good hold on that. Dealing with people, even in virtual spaces, enables you to keep that empathetic piece of yourself.
How do/can women “pay it forward” in encouraging and supporting other women in the workforce around them? Have you yourself experienced this in your own career, either through your actions or the actions of other women?
I have experienced it on both levels. Support means finding ways to connect with one another, without getting caught up in titles. If you’re in a room and someone may not have the tenure or title to be in that room, do your part wherever you can be a help. Make sure you understand the needs of any person you might be able to help.
Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, has said, “Never limit your imagination because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” How does that quote resonate with you?
What resonates with me is knowing your greatness, not allowing yourself to be defined by what others think of you. We should also continually try to learn about others who are different.