Alicia Karr’s corporate ascent has been a nonstop learning experience. After a Peace Corps stint in West Africa, she took a job as an administrator at Ardmore’s Meyer Design Inc. Soon enough, she approached the leadership of the architecture and interior design firm about taking over human resources. “I had no HR background, so I went to Villanova and got my HR certificate,” she says.
Before long, Karr saw another opening: CFO. “I had no financial experience, either,” she admits.
Undeterred, she had a crash course in accounting from her aunt, a former Meyer controller, before making her case. “It took some convincing,” she says. “But I knew our business.”
Karr took over the role in June 2008. Then the market crashed. “Managing the financial aspects of a company through a recession was an amazing learning experience that I hope to never duplicate,” Karr says. “But it has really shaped me as an executive. Getting this company through that time really colors the way I choose to approach our financial situation.”
Since then, Karr has helped Meyer double its staff and more than double its revenue. To grow, the company has expanded into new sectors and is now focusing on corporate and commercial architecture and interiors, along with senior and multifamily living, throughout the country.
Karr also helmed Meyer’s transition to employee stock ownership, which safeguards the company against future leadership changes. The transition began in 2014. Today, the company is 49 percent employee owned. “ESOP just really fit our culture,” Karr says.
Now 20 years into her career at Meyer, Karr is focusing on corporate philanthropy, including fundraising for Ardmore’s Friends of Linwood Park.