40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Karen Buell

Karen Buell: 27

Internet Branch Officer, PeoplesBank

Karen Buell played three sports at Houghton College in Upstate New York — soccer, basketball, and track and field — and she’s still quite an athlete.

She ran in the recent Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, and, while her time wasn’t her best (actually, it was her worst) — “it was hot; when you’re training in the winter, when it’s in the 30s and 40s, and then you get 75 on the day of the race, that’s a little toasty” — she was happy to be out there competing.

Maintaining a sharp competitive edge is one of many life lessons Buell took away from her college athletic experiences, and she takes it to work every day as Internet Branch officer at Holyoke-based PeoplesBank.

“Twice in soccer we went to the nationals, so I’ve played at a really high level,” she explained. “You learn a lot from that; there are always challenges to overcome. Teamwork plays a big part in it; you have to rely on team members, and there are going to be people with strengths that you don’t have, and you need them for that, and you might have strengths that they can’t provide.”

Another quality she’s borrowed from sports is discipline. “Being an athlete requires a person to be disciplined,” she explained, “to perfect their talents through practice, and even research the best ways to get results.”

These lessons from athletic competition, plus a strong faith in God, have helped Buell blend success in her profession — she’s risen quickly in the ranks, from assistant manager to mortgage consultant to Internet branch officer — with considerable work within the community, much of it ‘green’ in nature. She has helped coordinate Habitat for Humanity projects, planned a Transportation Day for MassRides to help people find carpool matches, and served as project lead for the second annual Environmental Fair on Earth Day. She also teaches financial literacy to children in local schools, and is vice president of the Northampton Area Young Professionals.

Considering all this, it’s easy to see why she’s considered a winner — on the job and off. —George O’Brien