Karen Parkin is a deeply experienced manager of digital projects in both large corporate and small start-up contexts. Her creativity and leadership skills make her a sought-after resource on global teams.
A superb leader of complex, world-wide digital projects, Karen Parkin is a recognized authority in Project Management and user experience (UX) design. Her international track record of success extends to corporate IT, media, advertising, ecommerce, and corporate website and mobile app development.
Trained as a systems engineer at IBM, Karen went on to spend more than a decade at Dow Chemical’s European HQ in Switzerland. There, as head of IT application development, she managed project teams of professionals from more than 30 nations. Her passion for quality and proven leadership skills made her the natural choice to also head the European Total Quality Management initiative.
In the early 1990’s, Karen moved to London to co-found a creative technology company. There she conceived and developed internet-based simulation products, computer games, and animation properties. She defined innovative processes and tools to make commercially viable what to date had been impossible, and patented a number of technologies that are still in use today. She led the creative strategy of the business, melding the talents of writers, designers and artists, film directors and musicians, and games programmers to create engaging entertainment experiences.
After selling out to partners, she was asked by the BBC to lead the Digital Archive Project, to restore and digitize the BBC’s vast archive of content, and make it accessible to producers using web technology. This high profile project was critical to the BBC’s transition into a real-time new-media organisation, and required not only superb management and communication skills, but also a great deal of diplomacy and negotiation at high levels across the organisation.
In Washington, D.C., Karen joined EURO RSCG and ran award-winning digital projects for Intel, Lockheed Martin, and The Humane Society. Then at Marriott International she led the internationalization project which took their website to a global presence in 9 languages and 20 countries, which when completed generated $24 million per day – putting it into the top ten ecommerce sites in the world. In the process, she managed the evolution of reservations systems to support multi-country implementation, and led the creative production of the online marketing experience. She pulled together teams of writers, designers, information architects, and user experience research experts. She managed external agencies (from Argentina, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, Germany, UK, and the US) for web development, localisation, translation and search-engine marketing. And she interfaced with IT to design, develop, test and implement innovative technical solutions.
Karen’s record of leadership in the corporate world is complemented by her entrepreneurial flair and marketing talent. Always thinking (and acting) ahead of the curve, Karen has co-founded four innovative digital start-up companies: a pioneering real-time 3D games and virtual worlds company; an e-learning venture teaching math and science via smartphones to kids in Asia; a mobile personal security awareness venture; and Britefire, the digital innovation and strategy consulting business.
Today, Karen consults on leadership, usability, UX and digital marketing. She leads complex development projects for forward-thinking clients in, among others, the hospitality, media, beauty, and luxury industries. She is on the boards of a number of companies and is CTO on global app development projects in the entertainment, education and personal safety sectors.
Karen Parkin speaks at conferences on the topics of digital Project Management, UX, and hospitality and tourism marketing. Her passion for quality and customer-centricity, and her unique ability to illustrate principles with great stories from major projects, make her a favourite with audiences.
She has a degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of the Witwatersrand.