The Bristol Distinguished Address: Karen Blackett OBE; Chairwoman, MediaCom UK

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Date: 06 December 2017
Venue: UWE Bristol, Bristol Business School, North Entrance, Frenchay Campus, Filton Road, Bristol, BS34 8QZ
Time: Reception: 18:00 Lecture: 18:30 Networking: 19:30

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Unlocking and Understanding the UK Consumer

Karen Blackett OBE, Chairwoman of MediaCom UK, will discuss "Unlocking and Understanding the UK Consumer" in her lecture as part of the Bristol Distinguished Address Series.

The secret to competitive advantage is rooted in understanding people. However, consumers today are just different. Their daily lives are influenced by the changes occurring in technology. These changes are dynamic and constant. Consumer habits as a consequence are evolving all the time. We want things faster, more tailored and on our terms. As a business, how do you meet these consumer demands? How do you plan for a future which keeps changing?

Discuss this event on Twitter using the hashtag #BristolLectures.


  • 18:00 - Registration and refreshments
  • 18:30 - Lecture
  • 19:30 - Networking

Please note there will be no podcast for this event.


Karen has been in media for 22 years and is currently Chairwoman of MediaCom, the largest media agency in the UK with billings over £1 billion. Prior to this Karen was CEO for 5 years.

Karen has been instrumental not only in the success of MediaCom, but in championing diversity throughout the advertising and media industry. In 2012, Karen launched the first ever Government backed Apprentice Scheme for the sector, where the apprentices qualify for an NVQ in Marketing and Communications.

In June 2014, Karen received an OBE in the Queen's Birthday honours and in 2015, Karen was the first business woman to be named Britain's Most Influential Black person in the Power List.

In 2015, Karen was appointed as one of four external advisors to help diversify the Civil Service, and as a DIT (Department for International Trade) Business Ambassador for No 10. Karen is also a Non-Exec for Creative England whose focus is to support new and emerging talent in the creative industry helping grow the UK Economy and a Council member of the Creative Industries Federation.

Gender Inequality in the Media and Higher Education

  • 15:30-17:00 - Panel discussion
  • 17:00-18:00 - Networking and refreshments

Gender inequality in the media, particularly the gender pay gap at the BBC, has hit the headlines recently. Commentators have also noted the lack of BAME representation in high profile media roles. In HE, the Athena SWAN Charter has been created to get universities and research institutes to set out clear plans to address gender inequality as well as the intersectionality between gender and race. This discussion session will provide an opportunity to compare and contrast the two sectors, to discuss whether/how the introduction of the Athena SWAN Charter has changed practice in HE and whether the approach could be applied to other sectors.

Panellists will include:

  • Professor Lynn Barlow, Assistant Vice Chancellor Creative and Cultural Industries Engagement, UWE Bristol
  • Ann De Graft-Johnson, Senior Lecturer - Architecture and Planning, UWE Bristol
  • Professor Jane Roscoe, Executive Dean and Pro-Vice Chancellor Faculty of Arts Culture and Education at UWE Bristol
  • Kalpna Woolf, winner of Asian Women of Achievement Award in the Media, Visiting Professor Faculty of Business and Law UWE Bristol

The event will be followed by a networking session with refreshments, leading into the Bristol Distinguished Address by Karen Blackett, an outstanding example of a role model in the media industry for female and BAME professionals.

If you are interested in attending this event please contact with your name and organisation.

About the Bristol Distinguished Address Series

The Bristol Distinguished Address Series provides a unique opportunity to hear about the challenges, issues and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership. The series is delivered by the Bristol Business School in partnership with ACCA, Bristol City Council, Bristol Junior Chamber, Bristol Law Society, Bristol Post, Business West, CBI, CIPD, CMI, FSB, IoD, ICAEW and the West of England Combined Authority.

Media queries

Please contact the Media Relations office if you would like to request a media seat or have a media query about this event, email

Please note there will be no podcast for this event.


If you are planning to attend this event and have any access requirements or would like details on venue accessibility, please email Events Team at or ring us on the number below. UWE Bristol aims to ensure, as much as possible, that all our public events are fully accessible. Early notice of access requirements is much appreciated.

Cost: Free
Contact: Strategic Communications and Engagement
Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 84517

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