Karen Blackett OBE announced as new University Chancellor

The University of Portsmouth is delighted to announce the appointment of Karen Blackett OBE, Chairwoman of MediaCom, the UK’s largest media agency, and former Portsmouth student as its new Chancellor.

Karen will succeed author, broadcaster, and television producer, Sandi Toksvig who will retire as Chancellor in the summer after a five-year term of office. She will take up her appointment in October at the beginning of the new academic year.

Karen Blackett OBE PicKaren, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Geography in 1992, said: “I am honoured to become Chancellor of the University. As an alumna of Portsmouth, I am thrilled to be able to return to the University and use my passion for developing talent and learning, to help create our next set of leaders.”

University of Portsmouth Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith said: “As the University celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, we look forward to welcoming Karen as our new Chancellor.

“A proven business leader with a successful career for over 20 years in the media industry, Karen brings to the University a creative passion and proven track record in business that reflects the ethos of all that we do. I am personally delighted that Karen has agreed to become an important part of our University at such an exciting time.”

Karen has worked in the Media Industry for 23 years and in January 2016 after serving as CEO for five years, Karen was promoted to Chairwoman of MediaCom UK.

In 2012, Karen launched an Apprenticeship Scheme for 18-24 year olds at MediaCom, working with Tim Campbell, MBE and The National Apprenticeship Service.  The Apprenticeship scheme is the first government approved scheme for any media agency in the UK, working with Outsource Training and leading to 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. In March 2016 Karen became the President of NABS, the advertising industry charity which focuses on health and wellbeing in the workplace and presenting the business case for Diversity.

Karen is an experienced speaker both within her industry sector and wider, and has spoken at the House of Commons, Mumsnet Workfest, AANA Reset Conference in Sydney Australia, the Huxley Summit, Ad Association LEAD, the BETT Show, The PipeLine’s Top Flight Courses, Edinburgh TV Festival, has given a TEDx talk, and was a panellist for The Guardian Changing Media Conference whilst also guest editing the publication.

Karen has been named as one of the Evening Standards Progress 1000, London’s most influential people of 2016 and as one of the Debrett’s 500 in both 2016 and 2017 which is published in The Sunday Times.

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