Karen Lawson

Former CEO Slingshot
Corporate Growth, Startup Ecosystem, Business Development
Karen Lawson
This expert is available for in-house training, one-on-one coaching, keynote and talks, consulting and implementation support.

Karen Lawson is an advisory board Member at the Sydney Start Up Hub, the largest in the southern hemisphere. She is the former CEO of corporate startup accelerator Slingshot and is an award winning growth & transformation leader in the technology industry. Previously the CEO NewsCorp’s CareerOne and the General Manager at Yahoo!7, Karen drives reinvention and transformation to help the world’s biggest brands stay ahead of disruption. 

Karen moved Slingshot from a startup into the #1 position in Australia, forging partnership with the top tech companies and winning contracts with global brands such as Qantas, Lion, SEEK, NewsCorp, HCF, Caltex along with state and federal governments. The total market capitalisation of its alumni grew to over $507m having accelerated over 128 businesses via its $15m Slingshot Venture Fund. 

She disrupted her own industry (and company) by launching CoVentured, a global platform to connect corporates and startups. Within 6 months 50 corporates joined such as Westpac, Australia Post, Woolworths and over 70% of Australian startups.

Passionate about the startup ecosystem she mentors a number of startups, CEO's and industry bodies.

Karen reinvented CareerOne, a JV between News Corp and Monster turning around a loss leading business into growth, partnering with a startup (Airtasker), winning BRW ‘Top 50 most innovative companies’ list and then a trade sale.

Karen is extremely passionate about diversity, culture and helping others achieve their true potential. 

She is a recognised media commentator, with appearances on TV, radio in print and digital, as well as industry forums. She is also a luxury food and travel journalist. Her commitment to not only driving innovation and disruption but also to promoting D&I resulted in Karen being selected as UN ambassador for Women's Entrepreneurship Day, Rare Birds Speaker, Nominee for Telstra Woman of the Year, Judge Telstra Woman of the Year, Australian Growth Company Awards, Women's Agenda finalist 2017 and Smart Company Women in Tech 2018.


In-house training

Karen delivers an in-house workshop 'David and Goliath' that focuses on how corporates can innovate like startups, gain a competitive edge in the global world and whether or not corporates should kill startups, collaborate with them or try to be more like them. 

Workshop outcomes:

  • Deep dive into the challenges of driving innovation in a corporate and the different stages of innovation

  • Trends in corporate growth

  • Understand whether you will compete, collaborate or imitate through a strong understanding of the startup ecosystem; including what's happening globally, best practice and the different systems to engage with 

  • Identify the right pathways for your business

  • How to navigate a messy and changing world to drive business value and gain a competitive edge

This workshop is aimed at corporates; CEO's, executive team members, head of business development/partnership and corporate strategy. 


Consulting and coaching 

Karen is available for coaching and consulting engagements for start ups and corporates, specialising in the following areas:

  • Coaching; Women in leadership, career coaching, diversity and innovation initiatives, personal branding

  • Consulting (startups): Business development, working with corporates, scaling, pitching, channel strategy, founder coaching and LinkedIn strategy

  • Consulting (corporates): Growth, building startup strategy, startup connections, evaluation of options, business development, partnerships, innovation, disruption, diversity and innovation strategy


Keynote talks and topics 

Karen is available for formal keynote presentations and informal lunch and learn sessions 

  • Innovator's Dilemma: What is it?

  • 3 horizons of innovation: Why you need it

  • Corporate antibodies: What they are and how to identify and understand them

  • Mega trends: The company life span, adoption changes, funding changes

  • The startup ecosystem: Workshop all the different sectors from coworking, incubators, educators, VC, accelerators, deep dive into accelerators, venture capital, global v local, state of startups, what industries are being disrupted, who are starting start ups, scallops v startups

  • Options for corporate growth: CVC global changes, difference between corporates and startups, what are the challenges and advantages, how do you engage with startups, how to create a framework for growth 

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