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Former CEO, Ella Baché & Business Transformation Consultant


Karen Matthews is an exceptional communicator, passionate change maker and award-winning Business Transformation advisor, facilitator and speaker. With over 25 years' experience leading turnaround, change and growth, Karen is recognised in the market as a confident, innovative leader with a trademark no 'BS', warm and friendly style.

Karen's leadership has been recognised during her career with several awards including Telstra NSW Businesswoman of the Year and PwC National Franchise Woman of the Year.

She has led business transformation strategies for several well-known brands including Ella Baché, where she was CEO for ten years, Guess and her last corporate role as Retail Director for Freedom Furniture. Karen knows change is here to stay and businesses that do not embrace change, will not survive long term.

Current Work:

In 2016, Karen launched her own advisory business using her experience and proven process to guide and support business leaders navigate the challenges of change, turnaround and long-term growth. She is frustrated by the out-dated set and forget' notion of planning and is a passionate advocate for her brand led no 'BS' approach to business transformation and dynamic planning.

In 2020 Karen released her first book Demystifying the road to Change - a no BS guide to Business Planning and long term growth and regularly speaks on the topic sharing her experiences, learnings and challenges. She mentors business leaders and their teams as they navigate change and loves to facilitate strategic planning sessions to either kick start a business's change process or move them through her full step-by-step process and set them up for long term growth.

Karen has a suite of topics she regularly speaks about including; Demystifying the Road to Change, Think Differently for long term growth, Defining your brand to grow your business, Change Leadership, Keys to Business Success and The Business of retail in an ever-changing world. Karen is also happy to create something specific for your business. Either way, Karen is engaging, warm, inspiring and down to earth. Her experience, real life stories and authenticity captivate her audience and clients and give them the confidence to take action.

Talking Points

Demystifying the Road to Change

Do you know you need to change, but; - you don't know where to start? - are so busy fighting fires every day that you simply don't have the headspace? - tell yourself now is not the time to disrupt and make big changes? Hear about my 3-part, no BS' approach to business planning and business transformation. It is: - Practical, quick and focused - A powerful collaborative process (via a 2 day workshop (ideally)), to build a simple roadmap forward and align the whole organisation.

It is not:
-Jargon heavy,
-A long-winded talkfest,
-Blame focused

PART 1 : Reality Check - review the business as it is now¦the good, the bad and the ugly.
PART 2 : Decide and Act - commit to change, create one-page business plan and supporting implementation plan
PART 3 : Make it Stick - design the business process to measure, review and adjust as needed without losing sight of vision and goals.

Learn what to do, when to do it, and how to execute every stage to transform your business from stagnant to supercharged.

Discover step-by-step how to build (or rebuild) your brand, claim (or reclaim) your position in the market and leave no doubt in the customer's mind of what your business stands for. Learn how to make it stick so your business can power through the roadblocks, respond to change swiftly and be set for long term growth

No more 2 steps forward, 2 steps back. Create a business that can quickly and seamlessly respond to change when and how it shows up.

Key Takeaways:
- Confidence and reassurance
- Clarity on how to just start...
- Successful businesses measure, review and adjust as needed. They are able to respond to change when and how it shows up and can do so without losing sight of their vision.
- Power of support
- Power of Collaboration
- Leadership is the difference

Think Differently: Long term Business growth & success rely on it

How we respond to change will define the long-term success of our business Did you know that *90% of organisations fail to execute their strategies successfully?
- Planning is seen as a tick a box activity that businesses think they 'should' do
- Not understanding the environment and focusing only on results ? Writing the plan and putting it on the shelf
- Partial commitment- no alignment
- Not involving the right people
- Unwillingness or inability to change
- No accountability of follow-through
- Unrealistic goals or lack of focus
- Poor leadership
- Inflexibility - not recognising marketplace reality

*The Balanced Scorecard, authors David Norton and Robert Kaplan note: Planning done right, with a focus on implementation and creating a long term responsive business is a game-changing skill worth mastering.

Key Takeaways:
- Learn how to create a responsive and agile business that can respond to change when and how it shows up, without losing sight of the vision, and position yourself ahead of your competition.
- Power of combining heart and head
- Brand led leadership
- Power of priorities
- Power of alignment
- A change mindset is not an option
- Business process must be dynamic
- Numbers and decision making (when you are not an accountant)
- Measure what matters lead and lag indicators
- Numbers for decision making are exciting (a marketing/brand Leader's revelation)

Change Leadership: Be the Pied-Piper' Leader

Learn how to be a 'Pied Piper' leader - one that people want to and are excited to follow. One that instils confidence, trust and relief. Create an environment where your team can create the way forward Culture - How we do things around here. Do people feel safe to have a go? What are the values of your business - do you treat them seriously Build the tribe, run the process, make sure it happens and keep people up to date (celebrate wins, share lessons, update on transparent)

- Collaboration
- Alignment
- Tough decisions
- Tough conversations
- Accountability
- Power of and necessity for Communication
- Being brave
- Relentless consistency
- Measure what matters make decisions

Defining your Brand to Grow your Business: Brand first every time

Learn that a brand is way more than a logo. Don't shortcut the design of your brand. What does your brand stand for - what part of the market will you own, what promise will you always keep
Does every part of your business and processes support this promise alignment?
Customer connection function vs emotion
Trust and Authenticity
Market Positioning and single-minded messaging the basis of any growth strategy
Put a stake in the ground and fiercely own it.

Be brave and be bold Learn that what you don't do and promise is as important as what you do Customer loyalty = connection, trust and authenticity Stay in your lane....

- Avoiding bright shiny objects
- Focus is often about saying no
- What is your headline?

Online vs In-Store: One business, one strategy

BRINGING THE CUSTOMER BACK INTO STORE a specific post-COVID/think differently presentation.

On the back of lockdown, with centre traffic down, and online shopping up, what can the individual retailer do? - Brand Clarity
- Customer clarity
- Online vs instore....same or different
- How can instore and online co-exist
- Customer Experience - online and instore....both need to be appropriately experiential and quite different.... - In-store - events, education, community, tactile, entertainment, advisory. Brainstorm reasons for customers to come into store
- Invest in training your team - the superheroes of your business.
- Celebrate your team
- Reward and recognise....elevate their importance
- Marketing and communications - value add, differentiating, bold and proud

- Big message around the need to re-invent and transform business.
- Success will depend on your ability to think differently
- Retail has changed and businesses who can re-design their strategy fastest will reap the rewards.
- Focus on what you can do and control, not what you can't.
- Design solid strategies around staff, customer, offers and customer experience and then communicate it.
- Don't second guess yourself....own your superpower, your message and go for is not the time to dabble.

Bespoke Presentations

Karen will will happily design a presentation or workshop to suit the requirements of the client. Some past presentations include:
- Online vs Instore One business, one strategy
-Keys to Business success
- Experience - Joining the Dots
- Career progression
- Resilience and change
- Power of Communication - why do so many get it wrong
- Defining your purpose, vision and brand
- Franchising - Tips and Tricks for a Franchisor(ee)
- Why does business planning get a bad wrap - eye rolls, folded arms?
- Pros and Cons of franchising
- Marketing in small business
- The business of retail - metrics, customer experience, customers and teams - how to get it right


Karen also facilitates workshop and planning sessions for many businesses.

These sessions typically run for ½2 days, during which Karen guides the leadership team through either the start of (1/1-1 day) or the full (2 days) business transformation planning process.

Working with the client, Karen designs the approach that is best for their business, the team and the specific change needs and priorities of the business.
Karen was a particularly good choice for this market as she is so down to earth and approachable which allowed the audience to relate to her more than some other 'CEO's'. Her presentation was lively and informative and gave the audience some really good tips - they were all madly scribbling notes, which was a very good sign! Westpac Banking Corporation

Karen is an incredibly enthusiastic, warm, and energetic speaker. She really impressed with her experience and ability to command the audience. We were especially appreciative of her engagement with our audience prior to the event, it really encouraged them up to engage with us during and after the session. Karen also made the process leading up to our event seamless through easy communication and ensuring our intentions and goals for this event were echoed in her talk. She was a great choice to kick off our Speaker Series.

Chadstone “ The Fashion Capital
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