Karen James

Chief Executive Officer 

and Acting Asia Pacific Director

With a background in Systems Thinking and Engineering, Karen James (KJ) has a unique talent for unpacking complex issues with companies to determine strategic opportunities. Her work with clients has enabled them to define and bring to life their purpose, vision and strategy, with a strong focus on execution. KJ’s strengths lie in the ability to facilitate dialogue with various stakeholders and broker partnerships between organisations to achieve shared value.

KJ started her career in providing technical solutions for the European and Asia Pacific markets. Over time this led her to work for Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), taking on responsibility for Corporate Financial Services’ strategy and operations. Given her personal commitment to changing the way businesses tackle sustainability, KJ founded CBA’s Women in Focus community, which supports women in the development of their businesses providing connections and access to the latest tools, practical guidance and insights to guide them on their business journey.


She also worked with the bank to develop and execute strategies for Community Business Finance, and led the Vision & Leadership Program at CBA, which resulted in analysing The Hunger Project’s strategies at tackling complex issues  with McKinsey and incorporated those learnings into the banks own strategic approaches.


In 2014 Wiley International published KJ’s  book On Purpose – a business book for people who want to steer their work back on course, with purpose leading the way – and also started a consulting business. Key projects include building a new fintech business in Ireland; developing an Indigenous language revival platform for the Federal Government; and working as an advisor to the CEO of a finance company, working to change culture.

KJ achieved her Masters in Environmental Engineering at the University of Sydney and earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Hartford where she studied Electrical Engineering.

How does Karen want to make a difference?


“To ignite just change for smallholder farmers.”