Karen Blackett (200x133)

Karen Blackett, Chairwoman, MediaCom

Business leader and champion of diversity, Karen is the former CEO and current Chairwoman of MediaCom - the largest media agency in the UK whose clients include Sky, Tesco, GSK, Coca Cola, CRUK, Centrepoint, Audi, DFS and the Metropolitan Police.

Karen draws on her 22-year career in media as an experienced keynote speaker within her industry sector - and beyond. She promotes diversity throughout the advertising and media industry; her lifelong passion is to find, discover, and mentor talent from all backgrounds and classes in order for them to get a foot in the door.

Starting out at CIA MediaNetwork across a range of direct response accounts, Karen eventually joined Zenith Media as a Senior Communications Planner and Buyer working on the prestigious BT account. After being head-hunted by The Media Business Group, she was soon promoted to the Board of Directors of the newly merged MediaCom and The Media Business Group Board. In 2003, Karen went from Business Director to Marketing Director at the agency; in 2008, she became its Chief Operations Director for EMEA; and, in 2011, she was promoted to CEO of the UK Office, running over £1.2bn of media billings and over 1100 people.

During Karen’s tenure as CEO, MediaCom won the title of Agency of The Year by Industry Magazine Campaign for an unprecedented two years in a row (2013 and 2014), as well as £790 million of new
business, including that of Tesco in 2015. In 2012, she launched the Apprenticeship Scheme for 18 to 24-year-olds to gain a NVQ in Marketing and Communications; the scheme is the first to be government-backed for any media agency in the UK. In 2014, Karen received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday honours. She has also won the Women in Marketing (WIM) Outstanding Contribution to Marketing Award; has been featured 5 times in the Power List of Britain's 100 Most Influential Black People (heading the list in 2015, the first business woman to do so); and has appeared in the Woman's Hour Power List of Top 10 Influencers and Marie Claire's Women at the Top Awards.

Most recently, Karen was appointed as one of four external advisors to help diversify the Civil Service, and as a UKTI Business Ambassador for No 10. In 2016, she became the President of NABS, the advertising industry charity which focuses on health and wellbeing in the workplace and presenting the business case for diversity. She has spoken at likes of the House of Commons; Black Women Mean Business event; the Voice of Women event as part of the organisation’s women as agents of social change programme; Management Today's Inspiring Women conference; Mumsnet Workfest; and AANA Reset Conference in Sydney Australia. She has also given a TEDx talk, and was a panellist for The Guardian Changing Media Conference whilst also guest editing the publication.