Karen James is a purpose expert with a no-nonsense approach to igniting ethical transformation for organisations. Karen James believes it is time for just change.
Fast-talking, funny and pulling no punches, Karen James is a Jersey girl turned social entrepreneur, author and speaker, who has risen through the ranks of the global corporate world while honouring her most important role in life: being a proud single mother and humanitarian.
Characterised by informed and infectious energy, with a great sense of humour, Karen pours her unique career and life experience into energetic keynote presentations. After 30 years, her stories are colourful and full of action-outcome responses to the questions everyone is asking. From innovation to transformation to community building, Karen’s global career brings something for everyone.
Karen’s purpose is to ignite just change.
Change that is just. Change for a world which needs changing, fast.
Her vision is to reach many and have everyone discover the leader within so we can all work together to solve the seemingly intractable issues which our world faces.
From digital disruption to equality for all to conserving and protecting mother earth - and all the small stuff in between.
We need to be on purpose for good.
Karen’s business decisions have long been guided by deep-rooted principles concerning freedom and feminism. It was not unusual for Karen to be physically edged out of all-male lab groups and have to crawl on the ground to push her way into the centre of the circle; setting a metaphorical precedent for her life as a leader in business since. And it’s worked.
Now with over 30 years of engineering and business experience, Karen’s portfolio career has moved her from New Jersey to Europe to Asia to Australia. From fixing networks connecting to North Sea oil rigs, to designing and implementing a 600-seat virtual service centre for the Commonwealth Bank Australia in 12 weeks, Karen is a ‘fixer’ and ‘doer’ who holds people at the heart of every service model she rolls out. Using these principles, she turned a $9M business into a $100M business early on in her career, and set the tone for her future in business: have purpose, build the right culture, and bring in amazing leaders who are, above all, human.
This same approach reaped rewards when Karen later co-created a cross-cultural change program for the Commonwealth Bank. Partnering with The Hunger Project and McKinsey, she implemented a leadership-lesson program based on the teachings of women in rural India. The program has directly changed the lives of business executives since, and its transformational ripple effect continues to make monumental changes to this day.
The real defining moment for Karen was personal, and it took place in her most recent role at the Commonwealth Bank. There she led the birth and growth of the Women in Focus network – a supportive community with a reach of over 80K businesswomen – built within three years, from scratch. Not only did Karen and her team prove that a corporate bank could develop more meaningful relationships with its community of clients, they also showed tens of thousands of women that anyone who believes in themselves can have untold doors opened to them.
Download Karen’s biography and follow her on LinkedIn below.