K atherine Meariman
Infuses Energy and Empathy into Her Career
Katherine Meariman got her first job when she was 11, wrangling kids younger than she was at the neighbor- hood day care center in her hometown of Kenner, La. The sense of responsibility that experience instilled in her remains
part of Meariman’s professional DNA. It also
kicked off a long career devoted to serving others
and leading with empathy.
“I treat other people the way I want to be
treated—with respect and patience,” she says.
“It doesn’t matter what role they are in. I assist
the CEO the same way I help the lady who cleans
Meariman has worked for the past 19 years
at Smoothie King Franchises Inc., which is based
in the New Orleans area and has 800 locations
across three continents. She was promoted to
vice president of human resources, training and
education in 2016 and leads a seven-person team
that supports HR and training for the company’s
home office with 79 employees as well as for 321
team members in other corporate locations.
“What you do not only affects you, it affects
Early Life Lessons
many other people,” Meariman says. “You have
to take pride in what you do. I don’t ever want to
be the person who lets my team down.”
She recently spoke with HR Magazine about
her career journey and her top recommendation
for what to do in New Orleans, host city to the
Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017
Annual Conference & Exposition taking place
I grew up in Kenner, La., which is a suburb of Ne w
Orleans. I’m the youngest of six kids. My dad died
of complications from a stroke when I was 2, so
it was up to my mom to hold the family together
after that. She kept us all in line, and we always
strived to do well. She didn’t push us, but at the
same time, none of us wanted to disappoint her.
Thankfully, we all turned out OK—everyone finished high school and can take care of themselves.
We didn’t have much, but we had each other.
Home Team Advantage
Growing up, my siblings looked out for one
another. With me being the youngest, they all
felt responsible for taking care of me. We worked
hard. My family let me know they would help me
get whatever I wanted, but no one was going to
give me anything; I had to earn it. We all had after-school jobs—we cut grass, pet-sat, helped fix cars.
Working at a young age taught me self-sufficiency
and independence. My siblings were, and still are,
a great example to me. They taught me that you
create your own destiny.
Interview by Desda Moss
The vice president of HR, training and education at Smoothie King
Franchises Inc. applies a varied business background to deliver high-powered HR.