Karen Downes

Transcending Business as Usual

My personal mission is to unleash the potential of the human spirit and for all to flourish.

Over the breadth of my 30-year career I have built successful companies and supported civil society organisations, advised business leaders and led development programmes around the world to achieve measurable results. During this time, I’ve learned what it takes to tackle difficult issues such as gender equanimity, how to build resilience in facing adversity and setbacks, how to infuse business with purpose and how to engage people in meaningful work to ensure they bring their best of themselves to any endeavour.

I have designed and facilitated hundreds of programmes to empower women and men to be authors of their own lives, to fulfil their potential and live true to their higher purpose. I have witnessed the extraordinary breakthroughs that are possible when we are released from the constraints of our out-dated beliefs and unconscious counterproductive behaviours. Only then can we recognise our inherent human value and potential.

In the end it takes the fierce courage to initiate our own and others’ transformation.

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New ways of living and leading

What I do

Create opportunities in all sectors of industry and levels of society  that enable people to transcend their current state to a new level of consciousness, to take their rightful place as responsible citizens contributing to a better world.


Sally-Ann Gomes
Chief Operating Officer, The Energy Project UK

Karen is an exceptional facilitator and speaker. Her work at TheEnergy Project has ranged from facilitating c-suite groups, largemanagement teams and giving inspiring key notes to senioraudiences. She always radiates confidence and enthusiasm. Karen is an exceptional facilitator and speaker.

Sue Liderth
Head of IT TCCA & MENA The Coca-Cola Company

“I attended The Flourish Initiative’s ‘Leading with Grace and Resilience’ programme and was fortunate enough to enjoy 6 months personal coaching from Karen directly. Having attended a large number of personal development and coaching sessions during my 20+ years in the corporate world, I can honestly say that Karen’s approach is the most unique and impactful that I have experienced. I would highly recommend Karen as a guide to developing yourself and/ or others as authentic, intuitive compassionate leaders with a relevance in the modern world”

Ian Kane
Ian Kane ex Talisman Energy

“I highly recommend Karen as an executive coach. She understands the challenges a leader faces and how to work with the individual to achieve the business objectives. Karen is very professional, practical and motivating in her approach and will go the extra miles to help her clients”

Kate O’Connor
Kate O’Connor - Leadership Development Consultant Virgin Atlantic

“Karen and the team at the Flourish Initiative supported us through a transformational development programme at Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, that really touched both hearts and minds. Their passion, commitment and desire to make the world a better place really shows in the work that they do, and despite 49 programmes and 1600 participants, their energy and spirit to make a difference never faltered!”

Mark McClennon
Mark McClennon Global CIO Burberry

“I have worked with Karen for several years now, in different businesses and she has played many roles – from personal coach to a global scale driver of behavioural change. I have never met a person who connects so rapidly and deeply to a person or a group as Karen. She is a wonderful and insightful individual who has the skill, sensitivity and authenticity to challenge you to be at your best in a way that is highly effective. Every team I’ve led in the last 5 years has loved having Karen on the journey with them and she is someone I’ll always turn to for help, leadership and energy.”

The things I care about

Core Topics

Elevating consciousness

Consciousness lies beyond the rational mind. Bridging the divide between psychology and spirituality, logic and intuition, the personal and the professional is needed today to transform the old ways of working that no longer serve.

Human flourishing

Flourishing lies beyond the basics of health and wellbeing. It requires individual responsibility and intention to develop our inner resources: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual intelligence is essential for capacity building and resilience.

Community building

High peforming teams compete to win, functioning communities thrive on shared valuee and support of one another. Leaders today need to capably manage both.

Ethical Leadership

Values, virtues and character strengths are respected in great leaders as they stand for a better future for the company, their people and the planet.

Respect for diversity

Everyone included and no one left out speaks of inclusivity, but this is not possible when difference is judged versus respected. When the people value 'different to me' then another way forward is possible.

Societal and systemic change

Systems and structures hold laws, mindsets, methodologies and behaviours in place. When inside the system it is hard to see what is needed for change, developing the ability to step outside and see what is emerging and what is needed is essential.

from corporate executive suites to women in rural villages

Who I Am

I have worked with and learned from great leaders around the world. These people often rise to be heard in the most unlikely places or situations but always when they are needed most. They are to found in the corporate boardrooms, heading an organisation, on the warehouse floor or in the remote villages of India and Bangladesh.

I have fostered the confidence of reluctant leaders, encouraged those who were suppressed, empowered the voiceless to find their voice and supported those who saw possibilty to take a stand.

To travel with them on their journey as they found the courage and commitment to transfrom a system that was unjust, to stand for business as a force for good or to create a culture that served the whole, has been extraordinary.   Always this has required a shift in belief and a mindset that was constrained by the past.

I have facilitated hundreds of programmes to empower women and men to be authors of their own lives and to fulfil their potential.  This has been my life’s work and continues to be the work I love to do.

Latest News

Lesson from a broken back

Finding lessons and meaning through adversity I was so excited to be going home. My daughter and I had planned..

Tree of Life

Download the article here.

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