Staff Reporters
Sep 21, 2022

Women to Watch 2022: Karen Coleman, Archetype

Coleman is an exceptional leader who not just collaborates with clients to deliver their best work, but she also possesses the bravery and conscience to part ways with clients whose values don’t align with her agency.

Women to Watch 2022: Karen Coleman, Archetype
Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms

Karen Coleman

Managing director 

As managing director of Archetype Australia since 2019, Karen Coleman has been working to transform the agency and challenge traditional business models and leadership styles. Under her leadership, the agency has managed to grow from a PR consultancy to a strategic and integrated marketing operation.

Coleman invested in growth with four senior hires across strategy, creative and digital in 2022.  She introduced a new model of value-based pricing to command premium fees and ‘charge for the mind, not the minutes’. Over 50% of more traditional PR accounts now deliver digital, creative and strategy, while last year's creative and strategy work comprised 25% of revenue.  She created a podcasting production division called Archetype Audio and productised an executive leadership service called Magnetic Exec, which has now become a global service.

As a gregarious leader, Coleman thrives on partnering with individuals and teams to get the best out of them. Meanwhile, everyone in her team feels personally connected to Coleman since she recognises people’s unique talents and values. Her team is devoted to delivering exceptional work and has won a series of awards for culture and work. The average tenure of the team is over four years.  Because of Coleman’s compassion, empathy and engagement plans, the agency reached its highest-ever employee satisfaction rate of 89%.

Coleman not just transformed customer experience but improved the employee experience by creating The Clubhouse to embody the three ‘Cs’: connection, collaboration and creativity. This initiative brings people together twice a week over lunches, boxing, yoga, talks and wellness sessions. She also proposed Archetype Anywhere, allowing employees to work remotely overseas, held a wellness retreat to release the pressure of working from home, and even shut the office down for three days.

Coleman carries out a holistic DEI framework that extends from the recruitment process to local training. As a member of the APAC DEI board, she became the first MD in the region to equal parental leave in 2019. She contributes to industry discussions and is a frequent judge on many industry awards. As a panelist at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), she helps overhaul the strategic communications course and works with internship and mentoring programmes.

Celebrating outstanding talent in marcomms


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