Karren is considered the UK’s most high-profile business woman, and rated among the 50 most inspirational people in the world. This, together with her natural wit, honest and down-to-earth approach, witnessed by millions through her starring role on The Apprentice, has made her one of the world’s most sought-after speakers.
Baroness Karren Brady of Knightsbridge CBE, is Vice-Chairman of West Ham United FC, and Senior Non-Executive Director on the boards of Syco Entertainment and retail multinational Arcadia Group. She is also the UK government’s Small Business Ambassador.
Born in Edmonton, North London, Karren began her career in advertising sales straight after leaving school. In 1993, aged just 23, she was appointed Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club when the club was in administration. Four years later, she became the youngest managing director of a UK plc, when she floated the club on the London Stock Exchange.
Having turned Birmingham City around, Karren negotiated the club’s sale in 2009. She was appointed Vice-Chairman of West Ham United FC in January 2010, and led a successful bid for the club’s move to London’s iconic 54,000-seat Olympic Stadium. Under her leadership, West Ham has become one of the five fastest-growing brands in world football.
She has served on the Boards of Channel 4 Television and global retailer Mothercare PLC: she is also an ambassador for Range Rover and Pantene.
Karren’s wealth of experience and passion for supporting entrepreneurs led to her appointment as the government’s Small Business Ambassador by the Prime Minister in 2013. She also serves on the government’s Women in Sport Advisory Board to help increase the status, influence and participation of women in sport.
Karren has won many awards for services to business, including being named Business Woman of the Year and Most Inspirational Woman of the Year. She received the coveted Spirit of Everywoman Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements in changing the landscape for women in business.
In December 2013 she was awarded a CBE for services to Women in Business and Entrepreneurship; the following August, she was elevated to the House of Lords by the Prime Minister, taking the title Baroness Karren Brady of Knightsbridge.
Karren has written four books, the latest of which – Strong Woman – tells the story of her own rise to the top, her recovery from a brain aneurysm in 2006, and her efforts to balance work and family life. She is a regular columnist for The Sun newspaper and for Women & Home and Cosmopolitan magazines. She is also one of the regular judges, alongside Lord Sugar, on BBC1’s The Apprentice.
Charity plays a large part in Karren’s life. She is currently Patron of The Stroke Association and an Ambassador for WellChild and the Teenage Cancer Trust. She is also Chairman of Mentore, a business that uses mentoring to accelerate the development of female business talent and increase diversity at senior levels in companies across the UK.
In 2013, Karren helped set up the LifeSkills programme, which helps bridge the gap between school and work for thousands of young people. She also chairs the LifeSkills Advisory Council.