Karen Huggins ’77 studied economics at Union College before earning a M.B.A. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1978. She started her career at General Electric as a programmer, moving on to managing an applications development group before her division was sold from GE. More recently, Karen has been a project manager of financial applications as a consultant at the New York State Department of Transportation. An active alumna, she has served as an Alumni Trustee (1997-2005) and as a member of the Trustee Board of Advisors.
She has been head agent for the Class of 1977 for a number of years and has been a member of the Schenectady Alumni Club since graduation, having served as a past president. A veteran member of Alumni Council and past secretary, Karen has been on the council since the late 1980’s. Also past president of the Schenectady Branch of the American Association of University Women, she is treasurer of the Niskayuna Community Foundation. Karen is a long-standing program director for the Upstate New York chapter of her professional society. She loves reading, going to museums, playing the piano and attending concert performances.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
I also learned a great deal about business and management at GE, a natural follow-on to my courses at Union. I graduated from GE’s Financial Management Program, and from programs at GE’s Crotonville Training Center, all of which enhanced my ability to contribute on the job and in community organizations.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
I salute Professor Shelton Schmidt for guiding me through that all-important analytical process. He is a consummate professional and inspired me to also strive to be professional in my studies and my career.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
I suggest that every woman take advantage of every possible learning opportunity inside and outside the classroom. Also take advantage of every opportunity inside and outside the workplace. Make sure that you are working with other colleagues in your profession. Every meeting with professional colleagues is a potential learning opportunity and will help you at the next step in your profession.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
My most important experience at Union was my work on my thesis in economics. That was such an important exercise in research and analysis. It was also my first experience at effective presentation, since I was able to present at a statewide conference.