Conversations For Our Future With Karen Seymour

Welcome to the eighth edition of Conversations For Our Future! In this interview series we’ll be hearing from a diverse set of voices on how we can harness the pandemic to build a new global normal. I’ll be asking each interviewee the same three questions:

What one aspect within your sector have you seen transformed due to the pandemic?

In your opinion, has/will the pandemic change how we function as a society? If so, how?

How do you hope to personally harness the pandemic to create positive change?

My guest today is Karen Seymour, Chief Purpose Officer of Karen’s wonderful responses demonstrate the importance of optimism in difficult times. You can read her responses below!


About Karen

Karen Seymour is Chief Purpose Officer at human at work, a strategy lab helping organizations across all industries and of all sizes help the humans that make our companies thrive. She has been based in Hong Kong and working across the Asia Pacific region for almost three decades She is a strong collaborator and loves connecting people to big ideas that lead to big impact. Karen has built a career as an agile and entrepreneurial leader in corporates and start-ups in financial services, supply chain, media, wellness and philanthropy. She has forged strong business results, partnerships and community impact for decades, where purpose has played centre stage in building action for a better world. She has been a supporter of many for-impact organizations for years, is an Advisor with the Shared Value Project Hong Kong and a Board Member of Captivating International. Her happy places are on the water, paddling with her teammates, husband and two boys, in the mountains hiking and anywhere in the world with family, friends and adventure.


What one aspect within your sector have you seen transformed due to the pandemic?

Karen: In general, not just in any sector in particular, I see people shifting their focus due to the pandemic. I’d say that for many people, there’s an increased level of consciousness and deep reflection on what’s truly important. I see more leaders working hard to respond not react, listening to what their people and their customers need, and considering how they can best lead their people into an ever-changing, uncertain, and complex future. There has never been a better time to rally people around a cause, to focus on the long-game, to lead with purpose and to see how our personal strengths and business strengths can solve the problems of today and tomorrow. These are the businesses that will disrupt or weather disruption and that will be the winners over the coming months and years. There’s plenty of evidence that putting people first and being laser-focused on not just business success but also on creating positive impact for communities and society creates wins all around.

There’s a lot of thinking happening about how to move forward and some intention to build better business, and I believe now we simply need more action to close that intention-to-action gap.

In your opinion, has/will the pandemic change how we function as a global society? If so, how?

Karen: The pandemic has highlighted how very interconnected we all are, all around the globe. There is no impact that any one of us makes that doesn’t affect others – no matter at what scale. It’s more important now than ever to be conscious of our impact, be creative, be collaborative and think differently. We need to know that we all have the power to create change, and you’re a great example of that, Gabby. What if every person did one thing to help just one other person? What if every leader helped bring out the best in their people so that they could feel they are seen, heard and valued, thus unlocking their full potential? What if every organization had a massively transformative purpose that could create exponential, systemic change? I think and hope the pandemic will change, for the better, how we interact as humans and bring more awareness to how our actions affect others.

How do you hope to personally harness the pandemic to create positive change?

Karen: I aim to keep working alongside people who want to lead positive change and to help leaders activate purpose at work. This is not just a response to the pandemic, it’s a powerful opportunity for every person and every organization to build strong performance that’s gaining momentum and that comes with proven results. I’m an optimist and I believe in abundance. I’m also very practical and have seen that great things are possible when there’s a focus on big goals and an inspiring purpose, when people are fired up and trusted and when they are empowered to contribute in their own unique way. It often doesn’t take a lot of time, effort or investment by leaders to bring out the best in people. We humans are designed to give and are at our best when we are doing something meaningful to serve others. So let’s obsess with finding ways that this can happen and scale it!

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