Karen Spinley


  • Executive Transition to New Leadership Roles
  • Leadership & Career Development
  • Global Diversity & Inclusion
  • Energy & Resources, Engineering & Construction, Manufacturing
  • Health, NGOs and NFPs


Karen has over 25 years of senior executive experience in professional services.

Born in Canada, and educated in the UK, Karen began her career in account management in the advertising sector in Melbourne and London. She then worked in Total Quality Management for a public hospital in Canada, before returning to Australia where she contributed to tax and diversity policy research and development for the Business Council of Australia.

In 2000, Karen joined Heidrick & Struggles in Melbourne, where she worked for over 15 years. Her roles included Global Managing Partner, Mining & Metals Practice, and Head of Quality, Asia Pacific. In addition to managing local, regional and international CEO and C- Suite searches, she took a lead role in a number of international coaching, inclusion and diversity projects.

In 2016, Karen set up her own coaching practice, specialising in working with senior executives as they transitioned into new leadership roles, either within their own organisations, or with a new company or sector. She has also volunteered as mentor and coach for “Fitted for Work” and “ThinkPink”.

In her role with SMG, Karen provides leadership for the team of coaches, mentors and facilitators based in Melbourne.


  • BA (Honours) Politics, Nottingham University
  • Certificate IV, Workplace & Business Coaching
  • Diploma, Workplace & Business Coaching
  • Associate Certified Coach, International Coach Federation


“I sincerely felt that Karen was ‘in my corner’ and wanted me to do well and be the best I can be. Karen knows the corporate world very well and provided wise, savvy and constructive counsel. She is very perceptive and good at ‘reading between the lines’.   Her wise counsel, objectivity and support has helped me to think about my professional future and have greater clarity about what I need to do in order to achieve my goals.”  Corporate Executive, Insurance Sector

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