On growing up...
I was born in Malaysia and have lived in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK (London is now home and has been for some time). I am a Fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers, hold a Masters in Finance from the London Business School and am also a qualified Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).
Describe your job in a few lines?
I’m shortly about to start as Director of Group Finance for a FTSE 250 company heading up the Treasury, Tax, Investor Relations and Group Reporting teams. Prior to that I was Treasurer for an international property group.
My career has been focused in finance, particularly corporate finance, treasury, mergers & acquisitions and business analysis including in large, multi-national oil & gas and mining organisations.
What’s been your greatest achievement to date?
I love that I’ve had an international career. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been involved in some large and challenging corporate finance transactions and merger & acquisition deals throughout my career. Being a little bit of a deal junkie, they’ve all given me a buzz.
However, I think I am quietly proudest of having built and developed a team, significantly increased responsibilities and transformed a treasury function in my most recent role. I enjoy leading teams and working cross-functionally.
Karen wears our Chancery dress in Pomerol, £198 (right)
What are your career high’s and low’s?
There are highs and lows to any role and depending on circumstances, strengths can be weaknesses and vice versa. Challenges have included managing difficult interactions, poor performance or when an important priority goes significantly off track – I find that open communication and discussion can go a long way though.
What would you like to achieve next?
That’s easy – I’d like to learn from, contribute and make a difference in my new role – preferably ASAP (see weakness!).
What do you think your own weaknesses are?
I’m not very patient with myself and can put myself under immense pressure. Although I set high standards, I tend to be more forgiving of others than myself.
Karen wears our Dartmouth dress, available in Navy & Navy Satin, Plum & Navy (£198), Cream & Navy and Teal & Navy (£138) (left)
What piece of career advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Pause and take time to enjoy the journey more, don’t be in such a rush. It will be okay - laugh and smile more – you will eventually work all this out but quicker would be better (see weakness again!!).
If you had to choose working with all women or all men, which would it be?
Neither! Inclusion is important and I not only believe in the benefits of diversity but that this is so much more than gender and more than what is visible.
Describe your usual work style?
Professional and relatively simple. I like the elegant look and am possibly a little too prissy at times!
Whose style do you admire the most?
Anything involving classics, for example Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn.
What’s been your worst office fashion faux pas?
Probably bright lavender eye shadow – it just didn’t suit me and I looked simply dreadful! To this day I don’t know what I was thinking.
How do you keep a work-life balance?
It is important for me to be able to properly catch up and spend time with friends, business partners and trusted colleagues preferably over an excellent meal – I love good food.
Karen wears our Chancery dress in Pomerol, £198 (left)
What keeps you busy when you’re not in the office?
Practising Power Yoga regularly keeps me fit and centred and also hopefully balances out an obsession with cake!
I also enjoy long walks, be it through beautiful gardens, along a coastline or more demanding hikes. Many years ago I lived in New Zealand and the Tongariro Crossing remains one of the most memorable hikes I have ever done.
Travelling gives me a real buzz particularly when discovering new places, learning about other cultures and trying out new food. Places I’ve visited this year (both work and pleasure) include Vietnam, Japan, Vancouver, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and The Seychelles.
What’s your fantasy alternative job?
Possibly something in fashion e.g. involving gorgeous handbags, coats and shoes!!
Alternatively being a doctor appeals, particularly within a specialist area - fundamentally I feel fulfilled when using expertise to help others or growing a team of professionals to be able to make a difference.
What is your favourite Libby outfit at the moment?
The Dartmouth dress, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I own it in not one, or two but three different colours!
Karen wears our Dartmouth dress, available in Navy & Navy Satin, Plum & Navy (£198), Cream & Navy and Teal & Navy (£138) (right)
Interview: Lilli Brant
Photography: Mafalda Silva
Accessories: Karen's own
Shot in Chelsea near LIBBY's Sloane Square store