This is one out of five stories in the Utah Valley BusinessQ series “Women at Work.”
Kara Schneck is in the middle of one beautiful career. As corporate communications director for Provo-based Nu Skin, Schneck has traveled around the world as a spokesperson of the $3.17-billion direct sales company.
“This year I celebrated 20 years at Nu Skin,” she says. “It’s been the best surprise and gift of my career.”
What isn’t a surprise is Schneck’s success.
From a young age, her father taught her that “the best excuse doesn’t change the outcome.” So she learned to work hard, be accountable and rise to every occasion.
“In every situation I want to exceed expectations,” she says. “I want people to know they can count on me.”
At home, Schneck has a husband and three daughters who count on her — and her life as a working mom has been filled with more ups than downs.
“I’ve kept my priorities as my guide. I’m a wife and mother first,” she says. “And truly, there is no one-size-fits-all working woman. We’re unique. And while it’s easy to look at our differences, I like to focus on what brings us together. We’re all women who want the best for our families and our communities.”
Watch and learn
Kara Schneck may not have anticipated her global career, but she did know one thing for certain.
“I knew I’d get my college degree,” she says. “That was a non-negotiable. It’s important to have an education whether you’re a mom, a community member or a member of the business community. We all need to keep learning throughout our lives.
“I have three daughters, and I instill that belief into them every chance I get.”
New York state of mind
After graduating in public relations from BYU, Schneck headed east to intern at (and ultimately work for) a high-end advertising agency in New York City.
“It was fast paced, and I had to move fast with it,” she says.
The firm was owned by two women — a fact not lost on Schneck.
“I’ve had amazing mentors in my life — and most of them women,” she says. “It’s had a profound effect on me and the way I work.”
Sock it to her
Schneck and her husband moved back to Utah, and she soon got a call from her old professor at BYU. He asked if she would be interested in interviewing at Nu Skin.
Schneck paused — a pregnant pause.
“I told him I was seven months pregnant and it probably wasn’t the right time,” she says. “He asked me to think about who might be a good fit, and I did. I thought about it non-stop. When he called two weeks later, I told him I knew the perfect person — me.”
Schneck went through several interviews, and the last one included founders Steve Lund and Blake Roney.
“I was really hoping it was my last interview, because I had run out of maternity clothes to wear,” she laughs. “During that interview, Blake asked me insightful questions. The first was if I had ever dealt with an ethical situation — and how I resolved it. Then he pointed to the socks of one of the men in the group. They were rather flashy, and he asked me what I thought of them. I said, ‘Well, it’s quite a fashion statement.’ And Blake said, ‘It’s certainly a statement. We’re just not sure what kind of statement.’”
Schneck says she instantly knew what kind of company she’d be working for.
“They wanted people who were capable of hard work, people who were ethical and people who would have fun,” she says.
Schneck started at Nu Skin on June 5, 1994. Fifteen days later, she had her first baby girl.
“It was a rather unique situation, but they were unbelievably kind,” she says. “I took some maternity leave, and then when I came back to work, I got to bring my daughter and she sat in her car seat in the corner of my office. I truly work for a family-oriented company, and I feel blessed for that.”
Times, they are a-changing
Life as a working mom is different today than it was 20 years ago.
“My experience has certainly changed through the years. When my kids were young, there were some moms in the neighborhood who wouldn’t let their kids play with my kids — which is too bad. Kids are pretty insightful and pick up on those kinds of things.”
Even still, Schneck doesn’t carry a trace of bitterness.
“I have no ill will toward anyone,” she says. “Women come from diverse backgrounds and family situations, with an array of talents, motivations and life experiences. Everyone comes to the decisions they make with different perspectives. We can all work on being kinder and less judgmental.”
[pullquote]“Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ And I love that so much. Focus on your strengths. We need to acknowledge areas for improvement, but we should not be consumed by them. We shouldn’t short-change ourselves. We all have unique talents and skills that create value for our respective companies.” —Kara Schneck, Nu Skin communications director[/pullquote]
“Theodore Roosevelt said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ And I love that so much,” Schneck says. “Focus on your strengths. We need to acknowledge areas for improvement, but we should not be consumed by them. We shouldn’t short-change ourselves. We all have unique talents and skills that create value for our respective companies.”
What’s more, we don’t need to shout out our to-do lists from the rooftops.
“We should all be less busy — I’m not into the competition game,” she says. “Let’s be real with each other. Women need to work together.”
Being a working mom is fulfilling — but never easy.
“Missing activities is the hardest part hands down,” Schneck says. “It kills you when your daughter says things like, ‘All the other moms were there and you weren’t!’ Even if that’s an exaggeration, it means they’re sad you missed it.”
Schneck works hard on quality time with her kids — no phones and all.
“I try to focus completely on them,” she says. “I want to be in the moment with my girls as much as I can.”
When she’s traveling or on deadline, Schneck texts and FaceTimes with her daughters.
“I try to connect them with my job — I want them to see my work so they understand it and know what I’m doing when I’m not with them,” she says. “My girls have had to make sacrifices along the way. It’s not always easy for them. But I do want them to recognize the importance of hard work.”
“Our situation has forced my girls to bond together as sisters. They help each other out a little more,” Schneck says. “Plus, they have a great, great relationship with their dad. He teaches special education, so he’s off in the summers. And they get a lot of dad time that they may not have gotten otherwise.”
The workplace is better with women in it, Schneck says.
“Women add great value. They are typically juggling many roles and responsibilities in their lives. This can be challenging, but there are great work and life skills that come from this, including being able to find strategic solutions to complex issues, leading a team to achieve results, and being innovative and creative.”
And the softer touch doesn’t hurt, either.
“Women also tend to be gifted at some of the ‘soft skills’ such as being perceptive, showing appreciation and empathy, and motivating and supporting others.”
“Success has looked different to me over the years, but the one common component has been having a successful family — and my experience here at work contributes to that,” Schneck says. “I love my job, but it doesn’t define me — it’s not who I am. Who I am is a wife and a mom.
“And if we’re going to be here at work, let’s make it meaningful. Let’s be proud of what we do.”