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American Financial Services Association

Karen “Kay” O’Shields

Karen “Kay” O’Shields

PeopleWomen's Leadership Council

Karen “Kay” O’Shields

Executive Vice President, Chief Learning Officer
1st Franklin Financial Corporation

Kay is the EVP and Chief Learning Officer in charge of Strategy and Employee and Organizational Development at 1st Franklin. Kay has been with 1st Franklin since April, 2000, first as the Director of Training, and progressed to VP Operations before moving into her current role. Kay began her career in finance as an Assistant Branch Manager for First Family Financial Services in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1983, and enjoyed holding a wide variety of positions including Branch Manager, Revolving Center Manager, Regional Manager, VP Director of Sales, and VP Operations, South Carolina, until joining 1st Franklin. She holds both a BS in education and Master’s in Education from the University of Georgia. Kay currently holds certifications in Meyers Briggs, CPI 260, and SHL assessments, as well as certifications in Inside Out Coaching, Emotional Intelligence, HCI Strategic Workforce Planning, and Leadership Development and Succession Strategist, and Zenger Folkman 360 degree Feedback.

Areas of Expertise
Employee Development, Organizational Development, Sales, Marketing, Strategy, FCRA and Credit Reporting, PMP

Areas of expertise upon which I would like to continue learning.
Employee engagement, Leadership Development, Neuroscience of Learning

What three keywords best describe you?
Passionate, Tenacious, Compassionate

Personal Motto
Change your thoughts and you change the world.

What are you passionate about?
...helping people be there absolute best.

What are you most proud of?
I am very proud of my three children, and their families, and love being a grandmother.


What would you say are the key success factors for a mentoring relationship?
Open communication, positive feedback, and if the mentor, coach without giving advice, allowing the mentee to find their own solutions.

What advice would you give yourself as a young executive?
Never give up, advocate for yourself and other women in the workplace, and have the tenacity to get up when you are knocked down, and start over again. Learn from mistakes and avoid making the same mistake twice.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your career?
Life and knowledge is a process, no one single event defines who you are.