About Karen Walls

I now have over 25 years experience in the area of People - what makes them tick, what gets the best out of them and what you can do as a leader to drive and sustain performance.

 

I actually started out thinking I would be an economist and having secured the funding for a PhD thought I would get some "real experience" first and joined Ford Motor Company in 1986 in to Dagenham Industrial Relations – it was certainly real experience and gave me the greatest grounding in what really does drive performance and motivation – not easy with a group of people often working in a mind numbingly boring job – but possible.

 

That was the start of a lifelong passion – and no I never did get that PhD.

 

So, a quick potted history...

  • 1982 - 1986   Economics and Business Studies at Edinburgh University
  • 1986 - 1990   Ford Motor Company
  • 1990 - 1991   Travelling
  • 1991 - 1994   Accenture
  • 1994 - 2001   Hay Group
  • 2001   KWA Ltd.
Ford Motor Company

4 years in Ford Motor Company – I only later realised quite how innovative they were in their HR practices. I was in Dagenham assembly plant for 2 years and learned a lot about Industrial Relations, negotiations and most importantly don’t judge people too fast. I was then in the head office where I gained some great organisation development and design experience in Ford of Europe, Learning and development for Ford of Britain and was the first Equal Opportunities Manager in Ford of Britain.

Travelling

A "gap year" (late developer!) travelling around the world with some great experience selling vacuum cleaners across Australia.


Change Management Division of Accenture

Accenture gave me the rigour, the discipline and the technical content to deliver major change in organisations. I was part of a fairly new entity at that time – the Change Management practice - as well as building the expertise and capability of that function. I was involved in the global team creating the change methodologies.

 

Those methodologies have provided me with a strong foundation. Over the last 20 years I have been able to design and develop my own interventions that are robust and bespoke for clients. I have worked with some really smart people allowing me to learn how to redesign an organisation and successfully implement major change top down and bottom up, covering every HR process as part of that.

In Accenture, I had the opportunity to work on some great clients including North West Water for a year taking them from publicly owned utility to profitable, commercial entity and again with Scottish Hydro Electric. I also worked at the London Stock Exchange, Agip Oil, the British Medical Association and other FTSE 100 companies.

Hay Group

Hay Group for me was about getting depth of expertise and again I was lucky enough to work with great colleagues and really interesting and challenging clients. The McBer methodology and approach is a great foundation for understanding what makes people tick and how to get the best out of them and I have been able to build on that foundation over the years.

I worked across every sector and in particular focused on leadership development, talent management, assessment and development, change management, performance management organisation design and restructure and began coaching with increasingly senior people. I had the opportunity to help build the organisation change practice and also to lead the Mergers and Acquisition practice – creating a clear methodology for the people aspects of M & A. Indicative clients are Sainsburys, Cadburys, Lloyds-TSB, Kimberley Clark, Unilever and Amarada Hess.