Baroness Karren Brady CBE is a sporting executive, politician, television personality, author and novelist.
As Vice-Chairman of West Ham United FC, Senior Non-Executive Director on the boards of Syco Entertainment and retail multinational Arcadia Group, and as the UK Government’s Small Business Ambassador, Karren is considered the UK’s most high-profile business woman.
Born in Edmonton, North London, Karren began her career in advertising sales straight after leaving school. In 1993, aged just 23, she was appointed Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club when it was in administration. Four years later in 1997, she became the youngest Managing Director of a UL plc when she floated the club on the London Stock Exchange. Having turned Birmingham City around, Karren negotiated the club’s sale for over £81 million in 2009, leaving 2 months later.
In 2007, during her time at Birmingham City, Karren was invited to appear as a celebrity contestant on ‘Comic Relief Does the Apprentice’, which lead to her involvement in series 4 and 5 of the main BBC One programme as a guest interviewer in 2008 and in 2009. Later in 2009, Karren was announced as Sugar’s new assistant for series 6 of ‘The Apprentice’, replacing Margaret Mountford, a role she still holds today.
January 2010 saw Brady appointed Vice-Chairman of West Ham United FC, where she led a successful bid for the club’s move to London’s iconic 54,000 seat Olympic Stadium two years later. Under her leadership, West Ham has become one of the 5 fastest-growing brands in world football.
Karren’s wealth of experience and passion for supporting entrepreneurs led to her appointment as the government’s Small Business Ambassador by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, in 2013. In December of the same year, she was named in the 2014 New Year Honours, receiving a CBE for her services to entrepreneurship and women in business. Later in 2014, Karren was elevated to the House of Lord’s by the Prime Minister, taking the title Baroness Karren Brady of Knightsbridge.
Karren’s commitment to championing the cause of women in business has long been recognised. She serves on the government’s Women in Sport Advisory Board to help increase the status, influence and participation of women in sport. She has been named Business Woman of the Year, Most Inspirational Woman of the Year, received the coveted Spirit of Everywoman Award in recognition of her contribution in changing the landscape for women in business, and was also named 10th in The Guardian’s 50 most influential women in British sport. Furthermore, she is Chairman of Mentore, a business that uses mentoring to accelerate the development of female business talent and increase diversity at senior levels in companies across the UK.
An established author and columnist, Karren has written four books, one of which, ‘Strong Woman’, tells the story of her rise to the top, recovering from a brain aneurysm in 2006 and her efforts to balance work and family life. She is a regular columnist for The Sun newspaper, and for magazines such as Woman & Home and Cosmopolitan.
Charity plays a large part in Karren’s life – she is Patron of The Stroke Association, an Ambassador for Wellchild and the Teenage Cancer trust.