Karen Blackett OBE is the UK Country Manager for WPP and Chairwoman of MediaCom UK and Ireland. She is a renowned business leader with an impressive track record in creating vibrant cultures, energising teams and consistently delivering business growth and success.
Named by Vogue as one of the 25 Most Influential and Inspirational Women of 2018 and ranked top of the EMpower 100 Ethnic Minority Executive Leaders list, Karen was appointed the national Race Equality Business Champion by then-Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.
Karen is now a popular keynote speaker who can energise teams and promote diversity in the advertising and media industry to create a vibrant company culture.
Contact Great British Speakers today to book Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Speaker Karen Blackett for your next event.
After gaining a Geography degree from the University of Portsmouth, Karen Blackett decided to take a different route and join the world of communications, marketing and advertising.
Her career started in 1993 at CIA MediaNetwork, working on the accounts for NatWest, Time Life, Prudential and Barclaycard. In 1995 she then moved and became a Senior Communications Planner and Buyer for Zenith Media, working on the accounts for BT. Instantly impressing higher management, she was appointed to the board of directors for MediaCom and the Media Business Group, before working her way up to Marketing Director and then Chief Operation Director for EMEA for MediaCom, finally reaching CEO status in 2011. During that time, MediaCom was the largest media agency in the UK with clients including Sky, Tesco, Coca Cola, GSK, Audi, Centrepoint, DFS and the Met Police. During her tenure as CEO, the UK business won over £790 million of new business and was voted Agency of the Year by industry magazine Campaign in 2013 and 2014. She was promoted to chairwoman in 2016 after five years as CEO.
At the start of 2018, Karen Blackett became the first UK Country Manager for WPP, the world’s largest communications network, overseeing 17,000 people across 123 brands. In this role, Karen is responsible for delivering growth in WPP’s second largest market, with revenue of £2 billion.
Karen has also been working as a life coach over the last decade which has helped her in both a professional and personal capacity.
In 2015, Karen was appointed as one of only four external advisers to help diversify the Civil Service. In March 2016 she started a two-year term as President of NABS, the advertising industry charity which focusses on health and wellbeing in the workplace and presenting the business case for diversity. She is one of 40 Business Ambassadors for the Department of International Trade, Board Member for the Creative Industries Federation, Advisory Board member of Hyden Talent, a Non-Exec Director to Creative England and a member of WACL (women in advertising and communications London). She was appointed Chancellor of the University of Portsmouth in January 2017, a trustee of the new Sussex Royal Foundation in 2019 and a non-executive director of the UK Government Cabinet Office.
She has been featured in the Media Guardian, The Evening Standard, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times, Company magazine and The Independent, as well as contributing to The Telegraph’s Wonder Women editorial section. She was named as one of the Evening Standard’s Progress 1000, London’s most influential people of 2015 and one of the Debrett’s 500 in 2016.
An experienced keynote speaker, Karen is a well-known voice within the media and corporate world. Her style is forthright and engaging and provides the audience with a dynamic insight into the vast marketing and commercial acumen she has constructed as a leader in her field. This was further recognised in 2014 when she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honour list for services to media and communications, and in 2017 with Campaign magazine voting her the most admired leader in Ad Land.
– Influence & Leadership: Creating an Exceptional Culture
– Unlocking and Understanding the Consumer
– World-Class Leadership
– Future-Proofing your Business in the 21st Century/Talent is Everywhere, Opportunity is Not
– Diversity in Media & Advertising
– Marketing, Branding and Communication
– How to Grow a Successful Business
– People Management
– Creating Vibrant Team Cultures
– Females in Business
Karen is very passionate about diversity and inclusion in business, particularly in the advertising industry. In the five years that Karen was CEO of MediaCom, ethnic diversity transformed from 11% to 19% and women in senior management roles increased to 44%. For her work in the industry, Karen has been recognised an amazing five times on the 100 Most Influential Black Women list.
With over two decades worth of management experience, Karen is now a highly sought after keynote or after-dinner speaker, event host and corporate chair, prioritising diversity and great company culture.
She has previously spoken at the Voice of Women event, Black Women Mean Business, Inspiring Women conference for Management Today, AANA Rest Conference and Mumsnet Workfest. She is also an experienced TED speaker, including titles such as It’s OK To Be You where she covered topics such as diversity in the media, communications and branding.
Clients: Amazon, Barclays, BNY Mellon, Odgers Berndtson, Channel 4, Civil Service
Karen clearly practices what she preaches – she arrived on time, was lovely to deal with. Her humility made a lasting impression on me.
Association of Event Organisers Ltd
Excellent, really inspiring. Really resonated with our audience.
Karen is an impressive force to be reckoned with. She’s strategically sound, insightful, talented and an absolute joy to work with.