FrUn Featured Member: Karen Sergeant, Fractional Chief of Staff

What is your full name?

Karen Sergeant

Please share a brief overview of your professional background and your current role as a fractional leader.

My career chapters are wildly diverse: software product management during the heady days of the dot-com boom; counter-terrorism task-force management during the Global War on Terror (both in Afghanistan and at CIA HQ).

And for the past 15 years, I've sustained a 100% referral-only, word-of-mouth business, with a 50%+ client renewal rate, acting as a fractional Chief of Staff, with a specific focus on goal-setting, decision-making, and team dynamics.

My favorite clients are a best-selling anti-racist author, a socially-conscious yarn store, a performance coach to elite athletes, disruptors in early childhood education, in cannabis, and in aging-in-place — and abundant women CEOs.

What do you consider your strengths?

I'm a systems thinker, an adaptive problem-solver, and have an honest and direct communication style. I specialize in a pain point, not a vertical or industry: if the business is growing fast and "breaking" in the back-office (teams, systems, goal-setting, work cadence) — that's my jam. I transform growing pains into growth plans.

What inspired or led you to pursue a career as a fractional leader?

15 years ago, I was very burned out by my government job (I was in and out of a war zone) and I desperately wanted to NOT spend my life inside a building. The gig economy was just taking off and I figured out I could market my expertise to small-but-growing businesses who wanted to stay focused on the product/sales side. I'm their missing puzzle piece: the Chief of Staff.

How do you determine if a fractional engagement has been a success or not?

I always begin by setting clear 30-60-90 day success metrics — and then setting them quarterly ongoing. We have a mutual agreement on what success looks like. There's nothing cleaner than that.

Fractional leadership often involves working with different industries and teams. How do you adapt to new environments, and what have you learned from these diverse experiences?

This is the part of being fractional that I love: new clients, new teams, new problems to solve! I think one of my advantages is that my energy and enthusiasm stay high as I dive in. Client juggling, for me, is a function of good organization on my end + clear expectations and success metrics with the client.

What advice would you give to professionals aspiring to become fractional leaders?

For me, juggling clients isn't the challenge — juggling client acquisition and client fulfillment is! Never, never neglect the marketing/prospecting side of your business — even if self-promotion isn't your "thing"!

Where can readers learn more about you?  and


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