Ewa Karolina Wlaz
Barker Specialty Company
Years of Experience: 16
How she got her start: I love visual and performing arts and was a double major in graphic design and theater
at Regis College in the Boston area. Upon graduation, I was looking for a career in the graphic design field
and dropped off my résumé at Barker Specialty Company. [Company president] Gerry Barker met with me and asked
me to give him three months to try out being an admin for him. He promised I would still be able to use my
design skills, but that I would see a very different side of business. I developed a new appreciation and
love of the industry, and, very soon after, I moved into sales.
Her proudest career achievements: One of the key career achievements I am proud of is having a Fortune 100
client provide us with an evergreen agreement. This agreement means we are the client’s preferred vendor
forever as long as we always fulfill their ethical and safety standards, which we, of course, certainly
plan on doing. I am also very proud of finishing my MBA along with my husband while working full time and
raising two young children.
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: Sales roles have predominantly been male dominant,
which makes it tough to prove oneself being a woman. Generally speaking, women often have to work harder
to be recognized or rewarded, but this paradigm is evolving. It has taken some time, but I do feel perceptions
are shifting and people see me not only as a woman, but as a professional salesperson and, more importantly,
an equal colleague among many male counterparts whom I greatly respect.
Her job advice to women: Don’t be afraid! Just go for it, be confident, acquire the necessary skills, learn
as much as you can from everyone and develop your own unique style. It is always important to have a mentor
or someone you can really learn from. This is a fun, energetic and creative business that many women would
be thrilled to be a part of.
Her industry mentors: From the beginning of my career I have always looked up to Gerry Barker. I’ve appreciated
his advice and his creative solutions to some of the most challenging tasks. He has been an integral part in making
me the salesperson I am today. I also always rely on the advice and support of my husband Krys Wlaz, director of IT
of PW Power Systems. Krys has always had great advice and a slightly different perspective coming from a drastically
Her biggest lesson learned: This is a great question as I feel like there is always something to learn every day and
with every situation. However, at the end of the day, I think the most important is to always have a positive and
caring attitude—with clients, colleagues and suppliers. [Doing so] only brings out the best in people and, in turn,
makes you a success.
How she maintains a work/life balance: Having flexibility in the workplace is crucial in maintaining a healthy
work/life balance. I am able to care for and spend time with my family, while being connected and aware of what
goes on in the office and with my clients at all times. Having great support, both in the office with wonderful
sales staff and at home from family, is key.