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Kari Davis, State Bank of Cross Plains

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Kari Davis, vice president – HR director, State Bank of Cross Plains.

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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

I love seeing our employees succeed. I was first drawn to HR because it used the legal/logical part of my brain, but it also allowed me to also work with people, which is something I truly enjoy. Being able to make an impact on our company culture and seeing our employees enjoy coming to work — I know that it translates into their lives outside of work. The most challenging part of my job is the constant change. Laws change, social priorities change, and my own personal drive to always look for a better way to do things all create an atmosphere of never being finished. I’m challenged daily not to fall into the trap of complacency.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have a lot of wonderful mentors. Without naming just one, I would say that I most admire the people who are more concerned about doing what’s right over being right. It has taught me to be very effective at finding a resolution rather than digging my heels in on any one issue. I also really admire people who can learn from their mistakes, which is a great point of view from an HR perspective. If you assume that everyone is trying their best, then it opens the door to helping people use mistakes as an opportunity to get even better at what they do.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Sixteen years ago, I was hired as an HR assistant here at State Bank of Cross Plains. During my interview they asked me where I wanted to be in 10 years. I boldly told the interviewer — the HR director at the time — that I wanted her job in 10 years. We joke all the time now that it took me 13 years, so I was clearly way off base. The truth is that I set a goal and was determined to make it happen. I’m proud of the fact that leaders recognized my potential and gave me the tools to help achieve that goal. And by building respect along the way, my current responsibilities reach beyond my job title to include involvement on the senior leadership team.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

To quote Aaron Rodgers: “R-E-L-A-X!” The average person’s career spans 40–45 years. You have a long time to make it all happen. Worry a little less and enjoy the journey to reach your goals a little more. If you work hard and do your best, it will all work out.

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