Digging In With Karen McManus, VP of Employee Success

Digging In is a regular series of blog posts profiling UDig employees. We hope this series helps you get to know our team and understand why we dig what we do! Today, we are sitting down with Karen McManus, VP of Employee Success.

UDig: Tell us a little bit about your background and your role at UDig.  

KM: My academic journey started with a BS in Psychology and Masters in Education and Human Development. 

Adding to my academic journey, I have over two decades of hands-on experience in the HR world, playing roles in professional services and tech. I’m all about creating practical talent development plans, running engaging group learning sessions, and coaching at all levels of the organization. 

As the VP of Employee Success at UDig, I lead the development and implementation of strategies that promote employee engagement, talent development and overall well-being. My focus is on creating and sustaining a culture where our people can excel, grow and contribute to UDig’s success. 

I’m currently working on my first-level coaching certification through an ICF-accredited coaching program. 

UDig: Why UDig? What made us the right decision for you?  

KM: I stand out in my ability to get things rolling, drive for results, and build strong connections. I really believe in making the right connections and creating an environment where people can thrive. 

When I met Andy, the Founder & CEO at UDig, his vision for employee success just clicked with what I value. I got the company and how I could contribute to Andy’s goals for employee success. 

Andy was looking to fill a gap at UDig, and I fit the HR leader role perfectly – my background matched up, I’m based in Richmond, and I was excited to dive back into professional services. So, it’s been a bit over a year now, and here I am! 

UDig: What does “accelerate your success” mean to you? 

KM: For me, “accelerate your success” is all about actively helping people grow and stay engaged. It’s about showing them that they can keep moving forward and finding opportunities for growth, no matter what they’re aiming for. 

At UDig, we’re all about speeding up the process of growth – not waiting around. We encourage our team to go out and find the opportunities. 

We’re here to make sure both our team members and clients see quick progress. Whenever there’s a need, we’re ready to step in and help things move forward. 

UDig: In three years, what do you hope to see the Employee Success team accomplish at UDig?   

KM: Right now, our ongoing feedback system is doing great, and my hope is that it keeps going strong in the next three years.  

With all the changes happening in healthcare, I’m excited about creating benefits that focus more on keeping our team healthy before they get sick. Also, I’d love to see truly holistic benefits where medical, pharmacy, and mental health are integrated. 

We’re all about letting our employees find the balance that works for them, embracing a true hybrid style. I want us to go a step further and help our team take care of themselves proactively, rather than just dealing with issues as they come up. 

UDig: What is your favorite procrastination tool?  

KM: Oftentimes, I find myself cleaning just so I’m not doing something else. 

UDig: What did you want to be when you grew up? 

KM: I’ve always wanted to work with people and in a professional setting. When I was around six or seven years old, one of my favorite things to do was go into my dad’s office.  

He was a marine biologist, and while I knew that type of science wasn’t for me, I did know that I loved office culture from a young age. When people were there, I listened to the hum of the meetings, typewriters going, doors opening and closing. When people weren’t there, I used to have a blast fooling around with the copier, exploring various office supplies, and setting up my own little workspace. I knew I wanted to focus on how people work and what makes them happy when they are doing their work. 

UDig: What’s the most played song in your library?  

KM: Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson. Takes me back to a memorable trip to Folly Beach, SC. I’m a beach and saltwater enthusiast, and his music just transports me there. 

UDig: How would you spend your day if we told you to take the day off?  

KM: For me, the perfect day within driving distance would be a fall day spent in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’d start the morning off at a farmer’s market, have a nice lunch outside, and go to a winery in the afternoon. I would end my day by attending a concert at the outdoor amphitheater in the mall.