Meet Karen Dosanjh. A woman like Karen has many layers which includes her vast professional accomplishments along with her unwavering dedication to community service to effect positive changes for others.
Karen is trailblazer in the Marketing, Public Relations & Communications industry in Canada. Throughout her remarkable 25-year career, Karen has overcome both gender and cultural barriers to reach new heights in the business & technology sector. She is one of the first women of Indian descent to practice public relations in Canada (1992) and serve on the Board of the Canadian Public Relations Society in Vancouver (1995-1998). She is currently the Vice-President, Marketing at OSI Digital and has led the global marketing strategy for Fortune 500 companies around the world. Karen is a force to be reckoned with in Canada’s tech marketing sector and was instrumental in the launch of three successful start-ups throughout her career. In 2019, she was named a Shakti Award recipient for Professional Achievement.
Karen is also a historian and in 2020, she volunteered her time to write a book, ‘Untold Stories: The South Asian Pioneer Experience in BC’ which shines the light on the first wave of migrants from India to Canada in the early 1900s. Karen has worked tirelessly to bring Sikh-centric stories to students who greatly benefit from culturally significant content in their classrooms. She was nominated for the Order of British Columbia in 2021 by BC school teachers for her work in preserving history for the benefit of BC’s youth. In 2022, Karen partnered with SikhLens and Chapman University to produce a documentary titled ‘Hidden Histories: The Sikh Migration Path to Canada’ which launches in the US, India and the UK in 2023.
Commitment to Mentorship
On a personal note, helping others rise along with her is part of Karen’s DNA and she pays it forward through mentorship by helping create space for young women in business. In 2018, she established the first-ever GE Women’s Network in BC to help women break into careers in tech. Karen also serves as a volunteer lecturer at her alma mater, SFU, and speaks to Beedie School of Business students on the topic of Global Leadership.
Leveling the Playing Field for At-Risk Youth
In 2022, Karen was named one of the 2022 Women of Options Gamechangers to raise funds for at-risk youth in our community. Karen is supporting Options because levelling the playing field for all marginalized youth in our community matters to her. She says, “It’s simply not enough to do well for yourself and for your family. It’s incumbent upon us to give our time and our talent to create opportunities for others to thrive too.”
What is your number one priority when it comes to your career and daily work?
I have always been a purpose-driven person and I rise every single day with an innate desire to make a positive impact on my front row. That could be with my own family, on the job, with my friends or in my own community.
What keeps you motivated on a daily basis?
I usually start my year setting clear goals for the next 12 months. I also set goals for myself on a daily basis and usually don’t sleep until I’ve achieved them all. I think it’s important to continue pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. For example, I never wrote a book before and had never produced a documentary film. However that did not stop me from trying. I think it’s important to stay curious and always wanting to grow as a person. That’s how you stay motivated.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business?
My Mom, Harbans Kaur Johal, 90, has inspired me so much over the years. She migrated to Canada in the late 60s and worked at BC Packers for over 20 years all while raising 5 kids. Along with my Dad, they ran a successful farming operation in Delta, BC. Although she had limited education, Mom is a naturally shrewd business woman who commands respect in every room she enters. She is also a generous heart by nature and watching her lead through her actions has inspired the woman I am today.
If you could give your past self some advice, what would you tell yourself?
Hang in there, kid. One day you will break through all the societal and cultural barriers you are experiencing now to rise. Just be sure to lift other up along with you. Pay forward your privilege.
Do you have a mantra or phrase you live by? What is it? “Do all that you can, with what you have, in the place that you are.”