Engagement Key for Malnove’s Narduzzo
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
With responsibilities covering employee relations, compensation and benefits, talent management, learning and development, talent acquisition, risk management, and engagement (we’ll get back to that later), Kari Narduzzo is the total package for Malnove, a packaging solutions company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
What drives Narduzzo?
“The ability to make a difference in people’s lives and the opportunity that I have been given to help run a company like I own it,” she said. “This ability allows me to do what we need to do to continue to drive Malnove as a differentiated employer of choice.”
Narduzzo started her college career at Moorhead State in Minnesota, where she excelled as a member of the women’s basketball team from 1989-93.
“College athletics forces a discipline at such a high level -- time management, giving your all when you may be sick or feel like you just want to sleep, always driving to be the best,” she said. “Having a lot of success in college basketball is something that I carried with me into my first professional job- it gave me the confidence to know that I worked hard for something and received the awards and recognition because of it.”
She left Moorhead as a two-time NCAA Division II All-American, is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame, and still holds the school record with 1,634 career points. However, she did not leave with her bachelor’s degree.
“I changed my degree many times because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do,” she said. “It was always a big regret that I hadn’t walked away from Moorhead with my bachelor’s.”
Enter Bellevue University.
“Hearing the advertisements for Bellevue and the accelerated degree program really struck a chord with me because it sounded like something that I would be able to handle while I was working and raising a family,” she said.
Narduzzo was working as a District Manager for Simmonds Restaurant Management and the late Mike Simmonds, a longtime board member and contributor to Bellevue University.
“Mike had a HUGE role in my career- I learned so much from him. He had such a high expectation of operations and people that it was a perfect training ground for me to understand what great looked like,” Narduzzo said. “He developed such a strong group of people, with such high expectations and consequently was extremely successful as a franchisee. In addition, he had such a heart for giving back and a responsibility for community, I learned at a young age how important it was to be socially responsible and connected through giving back. Being part of his group meant always pushing for improvement and setting the standard- this really cultivated a drive in me to continue to push myself to more, which lead me to Bellevue.”
In addition to picking up career-relevant skills, Narduzzo took pride in earning her degree.
“The confidence of completing my degree was huge,” she said. “I feel like I don’t have that hanging over my head anymore and it provided me the ability to advance my career in a way that wouldn’t have happened without it.”
Family, including her parents, children, and husband, has played a big role in supporting Narduzzo through her academic and career endeavors.
“I have a very strong family network and parents that paved the way with hard work and business skills,” she said. “My kids have always been there too. I have always put a lot into each job I have and frequently go in on my days off to get something done, which meant often times; the kids were along for the ride. They tell stories of what they used to do at Burger King to help out behind the scenes and I am proud that they were excited to come along for the journey of the day.”
While Narduzzo works on employee engagement at work, she is focused on a different type of engagement at home. Daughter Jaylyn Odermann, a standout on the University of Nebraska women’s soccer team from 2012-16, is engaged to Tommy Armstrong, also a former student-athlete at Nebraska.
Fortunately, Narduzzo has plenty of time to assist with wedding plans, which will probably be in 2018 as both Odermann and Armstrong focus on continuing their athletic careers at the professional level.
“While working at United Way this summer, (Jaylyn) regretted her decision to not play at the next level and is currently training to try and make a professional team. She was invited to Houston Dash’s training camp in March with the goal of making a roster spot. Tommy is focusing hard on doing everything he can to play at the next level, working with the wide receiver coach and focusing on doing everything he can to earn a spot at the pro level,” Narduzzo said. “Both of them know that there are no guarantees that they will play, but they are determined and focused on these next steps. They will set a wedding date after this spring, when they know how their sport careers will play out for the next year.”