My Other Life with Karen Iannella

PM360 recently spoke to Karen Iannella, Executive Director, External Affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., about globetrotting.

: We hear that you are a world traveler in your spare time. Can you tell us about that?

Each year, my family tries to go on at least two major trips to really different and unique destinations. I have been to Africa and Asia and have spent time with my family in places such as Alaska, Europe, and Central and South America. We love to learn about the culture and the history in advance—it makes the experience even richer.

What is your favorite aspect of traveling?

One of the best things is learning about different cultures. I believe this has allowed me to appreciate a diversity of thought and opinion, which translates into all parts of my life, including work. I started bringing my children to Europe with me when they were as young as six months old. Many people would ask, “Why are you bringing them with you? It is a waste, they won’t remember anything.” My view has always been that life is all about the collective experience and although they don’t remember the details of trips they took as toddlers, they definitely did learn how to deal with new and different situations and people, something that will surely help them into adulthood.

In addition to traveling, I hear you have a real passion for reading.

As crazy as it sounds, I have a “book of books” that I started when I was 11 years old, in which I have written down every single book I have read. It is in tatters now and falling apart, but I love to use it and add to it. I don’t know why I started keeping track back then, but it has been a great reference for me. I’m able to recommend books to friends and sometimes when I can’t quite remember if I’ve read a book before, I can look back 20 years in the “book” and find that I already read it!

Do you have a favorite book?

One of my favorites is The Emperor’s Handbook by Marcus Aurelius who ruled the Roman Empire around 160 AD. What’s fascinating about the book is that his outlook on life and the challenges and experiences he describes are still completely relevant today. He knew how to live a good life and appreciate all that he had. It reminds me to live each day knowing we won’t live forever.

Is there any interest you haven’t yet pursued but would like to at some point?

I want to live in Europe, temporarily at least. My husband and I talk about renting a villa for six months in Italy once we retire. I also have plans to master Beethoven’s “Pathétique” on the piano some day!


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