Beyond the LinkedIn Profile: Karen Albritton, Walk West CEO

Karen Albritton is the CEO at Walk West. Today she talks about how her experience has provided her with the tools needed to become the CEO of a INC 5000 fastest growing private companies.

Hosted by Derek Ross and Mike Manganillo, Talk West delivers real conversations with business professionals, as they share their journey and how it shaped their career path.


Derek: Let’s face it, most of us have traveled a very different path to get to where we are today professionally. Talk West is a podcast, delivering real conversations with people who just so happen to be business professionals, as they share their journey and how it shaped their career path.

These conversations are designed to connect us and provide valuable insights and knowledge on how we continue to grow professionally and personally in our careers in life. A business professional is part of who we are, but it’s not all of who we are, and those are the stories we’ll be sharing and the conversations we’ll be delivering on the Talk West Podcast. So join us today as we go behind the LinkedIn profile and get to know our guests a little bit better. 

Derek: Welcome to another episode of Talk West. We are excited to have Karen Albritton with us today. She is our CEO and I always say is important and it’s, it’s an honor when you get to sit down with someone who has a breadth of experience over three decades in this industry of, you know, mentoring leaders and running organizations.

And so when. I had the opportunity to sit and learn and glean from, someone like Karen is always an honor. And so I’m excited about the conversation and what I’ll learn. I don’t know about you Mango, but I’m ready.

Mango: I’m really ready. And, you know, I really want to start before we dig into Karen’s history, I did a little digging into she went to school at UNC and she went to UNC during a time that most people might say the most popular player of all time played there. That’s Mr. Michael Jordan, who my kids are completely obsessed with due to Space Jams

And it’s actually the Space Jams because when they introduced Michael B. Jordan, they like laugh out of that. But Karen, I want to ask you give us a quick story of you, you got to have seen him in college or something that stands out about being at school with MJ.

Karen: Oh, it was a great time to be in chapel hill. I think one of the things that’s interesting about that whole era is actually the year before, which was the 81 team, a terrific team, that actually we, we, we beat Indiana and the regular season. When we played them, but then when we play them, in the NCAA tournament, we lost in 1981.

And I don’t think anyone really expected would that 82 team, I, you know, while, it was a great team, no one knew what to expect. And certainly no one knew what to expect of that that freshman from Wilmington, who hit the game winner. I mean, nobody knew who Michael Jordan was at that point. So that’s one of those stories of resilience of, of, of, of coming back a year later and winning and winning it all. And so I saw, I loved that it was a fantastic time to be in Chapel Hill.

Derek: That’s awesome. Since we’re on the topic of sports, do you have a favorite sport, Karen?

Karen: Oh, without a doubt is basketball, and actually, I, I grew up a state fan. I was a huge fan of, of, you know, the state teams that had David Thompson on who I think, even though I love Michael Jordan, I feel like David was the best, ACC college player ever. In terms of his career.

I was also huge Kay Yow fan. and I would have loved to have been able to go to state and play basketball for Kay Yow, but I’m short, slow, and really not that great of a shot. 

Mango: Funny enough, my wife went to the I guess they had a game last night dedicated the Kay Yow at NC State, and she was there all in pink. And it was the first college basketball game ever and she loved it.

Karen: Yes.

Derek: It’s something about the energy. I didn’t, I played basketball when I was younger, but in college I ran track and it’s something about, you know, with track, you know, you have an individual sport, but then you also have a team dynamic around it. And so, you know, it’s, it’s always great when you are able to come together for a common goal and really work hard, whether you win or lose, there’s, there’s always lessons to learn and connections you can make and, and camaraderie and relationship that you build for a long time.

And so, with that, as we kind of step into transition from sports over to you, Karen, I always like to, to talk about like the early years, like when you were growing up and, you know, finding your way in the world, where, what were some of your interests, you know, as a, as a child, what were some of the things that you remember standing out that, if you look back kind of were early signs of your leadership qualities,

Karen: I would say that sports were definitely a part of that. It wasn’t easy to play sports when, when I was growing up because it was before title nine. and so I actually played little league baseball with the, with the guys. Not because I was good, but because there was really not another, another sport in the rec community in our small, you know, hometown where I’m from. So sports and being competitive, played a role. I wouldn’t, so I would say rather than leadership, it was just about competition, you know, and, and, and teamwork and being a part of a team. And I loved that. I loved that team. Yeah, I had some friends from that team when I was, I guess, maybe six, seventh grade who were, who, you know, were friends later in high school and stuff like that and good guys.

And they were great to me. my parents supported it, my dad coached the team. and so that was definitely something. I was also, definitely involved in politics growing up, and that gave me a. I mean, I think that gave me a worldview and appreciation for, for, for curiosity and just, just learning. So that was a, that was another, interest for me was just being a part of, part of that. A part of those organizations.

Full Episode Transcript

Talk West is brought to you by Walk West, and is produced by Earfluence.