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Copy the Leader: Megh Knappenberger

Jayhawks in leadership positions are everywhere you look, including through the Jayhawk Career Network. KU Alumni, in partnership with SumnerOne, is highlighting Jayhawk leaders who are models for others in their industries with our “Copy the Leader” program.

Megh Knappenberger, f”04, is a Kansas City-based artist. We sat down with Megh to learn what leadership means to her.

What do you do in your work?

I balance my time pretty equally between doing research and painting, and actively managing my business. Being a painter doesn’t mean I paint all day, which sometimes surprises people. I wear all the hats of a small business owner, from marketing to IT to managing a small team.

What are the qualities of a good leader?

I think good leaders are forged in tough times. It’s easy to be in the hot seat when things are going well, but there’s a lot to be learned in tough times if we can have the humility and sense of humor to see those moments as opportunities to learn. Doing that allows us to give that kind of grace to everyone around us as well. 

How do you practice leadership at your job?

People often have preconceived notions of artists. And I love flipping those expectations on their head for the better. Being a leader in my industry is showing “artist” through an aytpical lens of savvy and successful entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Sure, I can be weird with the best of ‘em, but my legacy will (I hope) go beyond that. 

What makes a team or group successful?

A friend and coach of mine has a habit of repeating this phrase to me, “setting and managing expectations.” Most friction in our work lives comes from misaligned expectations. A successful team is one who is on the same page, whatever page it is. In my world, that often means letting my team know that I’m in blackout mode painting for a few days and that they won’t hear from me until I resurface. 

Megh Knappenberger

How can leaders in your industry help their organizations adapt to change?

I firmly believe there’s never been a better time to be an artist. Technology has opened doors, both for research and inspiration-seeking and for connecting our work with audiences all over the world. But everything is changing quickly, and that can be scary. Just look at the NFT market. Adapting to change only happens with an open mind. And, specifically for the art industry, I don’t think we should view our ever-changing technology as a burden. It is a gateway.


You can see some of Megh’s artwork for yourself starting Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Jayhawk Welcome Center!

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The Copy the Leader program is brought to you by SumnerOne. SumnerOne is one of the largest independent office technology dealers in the Midwest, with offices in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. We’re a family of respected companies united by ONE goal: to exceed your expectations and help you get the most from your investments in printing, IT, and document technology.

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