Karen James

Karen James is a purpose expert with a no-nonsense approach to igniting ethical transformation for organisations.

Fast-talking, funny and pulling no punches, Karen James is a Jersey girl turned social entrepreneur, engineer, author, corporate change maker 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 consulting, facilitation and keynote presentations.  Karen's stories are colourful and full of action-outcome responses to the questions most pertinent in business today.

With an engineer's brain, an entrepreneurial mindset, a knack for community engagement and a deeply ethical moral compass – Karen stands out for all the right reasons in a business world often filled with suits and straight faces.

From innovation to transformation to community building, Karen’s sharp intellect and a 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.
  • Karen couldn't be more excited by the shift towards business for purpose. With over 30 years’ experience in purpose-driven business activities, and a tangible track record, she is an inspirational and accessible advisor to many who want to shape business 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. 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. She has since fixed networks connecting to North Sea oil rigs, designed and implemented a 600-seat virtual service centre in 12 weeks, and turned a $9M business into a $100M business early on in her career – setting the tone for her future in business: have purpose, build the right culture, and bring in amazing leaders who are, above all, human and accessible.

This same approach reaped rewards when Karen co-created a cross-cultural change program in a large corporation, based on the teachings of women in rural India. Partnering with The Hunger Project and McKinsey, she implemented a leadership-lesson program, which has directly – and measurably – changed the lives of business executives since, and its transformational ripple effect continues to make monumental personal and professional changes to this day.

At the same time Karen championed her social intrapreneurship skills to birth and grow the Women in Focus community over three years from scratch – one woman at a time. The stories within this community are often described as 'life changing' by its nationwide members – who believe that collaboration, friendship, trust and ethics is how you get ahead in business, for good.

Karen – along with trusted partners – deliver consulting services, facilitation, and speaking engagements year-round across a range of locations.

In her podcast, Get on Purpose, Karen puts inspiring but often aspirational ideas into action – through moving interviews with business leaders, and sharing her own personal experiences to promote business for good.

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