Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Grand Rapids, Mich.
In life, says Karen Morris, quoting an unknown author, “There’s no such thing as status quo – you’re either moving backward or forward.” Senior vice president of human resources at Meijer Inc., Morris constantly moves forward. Her responsibilities cover corporate team and labor relations, talent acquisition, talent development and organizational capability, and benefits and compensation. She has visited all seven continents and 33 countries, but remains “grounded in small-town familiarity and continuity,” holding to her parents’ lessons. “Dad’s lessons were shared through our participation in sports. He taught us to ‘practice, prepare, practice; get better and be better.’ Lessons learned: resilience, focus and commitment, make a positive difference in life. Mom’s lessons were: ‘reputation matters and everything you do shapes it. Creating a good reputation is much easier than repairing a bad one.’ Lessons learned: character is built one brick at a time. Be respectable and accountable for your actions. Be true, honest and trustworthy.”
A human resources veteran of Tyco International, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and General Mills Inc., Morris has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in labor and industrial relations from Michigan State University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, and studied personnel management systems in Stockholm, Sweden. Last year, the Michigan native was inducted into the School of Criminal Justice Wall of Fame at Michigan State. She serves on the advisory board of Michigan State University School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, the board of directors of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids and the advisory committee for Spectrum Health Community Commitment.
What would Morris likely do with more time and money? “Hang out in my hammock and, if or when a change of pace was desired, I would rotate to lounge on a sandy beach and then back to my hammock again.”