In the 1990-ies during her education in hospitality management, Karen figured the Aruba Airport would be a great place to start training on the job, and before she knew it, landed herself a supervisor position at GenAir. When her general manager accepted a new position in 2006 at the helm of JetBlue Airways’ station in Aruba, Karen was hand-picked to come and join him as Airport Operations Supervisor. She enrolled in JetBlue trainings but didn’t start in her new position until 2008, meanwhile still serving as GenAir’s supervisor. “What made me fall in love with JetBlue immediately, is the culture of embracing change and finding new opportunities for growth, and the values: safety, integrity, passion, fun and caring. That consistently surfaces in our company’s leaders. And there’s a fun factor in all we do. For instance, each aircraft has its own name, provided by one of JetBlue’s crew members.
” Over the past 15 years Karen saw the airline grow from new-kid-on-the-block with one service out of JFK in 2006, to the number 1 air service provider to Aruba in 2021 with connections also including Boston, Fort Lauderdale and Newark. According to Karen, the key to that success can be found in the ideal combination of the well-known, greatly marketed destination of Aruba and JetBlue, the Award-winning airline, not shy of entering new markets and a passion for new opportunities to introduce a competitive edge.
Karen’s career path is impressive. First a young student at the San Nicolas Abraham de Veer School and the Bushiri Hotel School in Aruba, she then gained valuable work experience during her 9-year tenure as supervisor with GenAir, before saying yes to a new challenge at JetBlue Airways in Aruba. In her 9 years as Airport Operations Supervisor for JetBlue, she was highly involved in two new regional openings in 2014: the JetBlue stations in Trinidad and Curaçao, being the opening project manager and now the general manager for the latter. By then, Karen had proven not to be shy of a challenge and being passionate about her work. In 2017, she was promoted to General Manager for the JetBlue station in Aruba, leading a team of approximately 30 employees today, double the size of the opening team in 2006.
When asked about her career success, Karen shares, “I truly enjoy a challenge and I have a yes-can-do attitude. Even if I am unfamiliar with something, I will figure it out and get things done. I have always been passionate about what I do and will give it my very best, at everything.
” To illustrate that, Karen shares a personal story of her auntie, who passed away a few months ago, and was Karen’s language tutor from an early age. “My aunt picked up on my passion for languages and started communicating with me in French, or Spanish. Just to stimulate my knowledge of those languages. She also taught me sign language, which we would practice when listening to worship songs all the time”. On what it takes for a young girl growing up in San Nicolas to land a position as GM for an American, Award-winning airline, Karen can be clear. “There are no limitations in life, only those you set on yourself, so that’s the number one rule right there: never limit yourself. And if you experience challenges in life, use those experiences to grow and become better. You will be able to achieve the unthinkable, just believe in yourself.” Listening to Karen’s advice and her attitude in life, the last moments of Karen’s auntie come to mind. Intubated in the ICU and no longer able to speak, Karen’s aunt turned to the one language she was still able to communicate in, sign language. In her feeble condition, she had a final word to share with Karen. She signed the word strength.