Karen Starns is CEO of OJO Canada, a powerful real estate platform recently acquired by Royal Bank of Canada. An experienced tech leader and former CMO, she is skilled in driving scale and building brands that people love and can’t live without. Karen’s deep expertise in solving complex business and marketing problems comes from a successful 20+ year career at Amazon, Microsoft, Pearson, and as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of real estate tech company OJO.
Throughout her career, Karen built outstanding in-house capability in brand strategy, packaging, retail experience, design, CX, product marketing, insights, and PR. She has also worked extensively with the world’s leading advertising, brand, and design agencies. A speaker, juror, and award-winning executive, Karen continues to develop and hone her craft while advising, leading, and teaching.
Risk-taking is one of her superpowers. Combined with a growth mindset and a focus on sustainability, Karen’s keen ability to seize opportunity has resulted in a track record of enduring value. She leads with deep empathy and understanding of customers, commercial drive, high judgment, scaled mechanisms, and fosters a distinctive culture anchored in shared values and behaviors.
Karen is a board member of Miracle Foundation, an international nonprofit that aims to empower vulnerable children to reach their full potential. She is an advisor to social enterprises including Cielo Hammocks in Mexico and Sosai Renewable Energies in Nigeria. At the University of Texas at Austin, Karen is a lecturer in brand and product management and Chair of the Advisory Council for the Master of Science in Marketing program at the McCombs School of Business, where she earned her BBA. She is an active member of the Fast Company Executive Board, an invitation-only professional organization of company founders, executives, and leaders who are defining the future of business through design, innovation, creativity, and impact.
Embracing an entrepreneurial dream in 2020, Karen founded House Arrest Goods, a startup producing small-batch culinary finishing salts. She also is co-founder of a web3 stealth startup Black Squirrel Foundry.