karen mason

co founder essentially human

I found myself in the corporate world by chance, it certainly wasn’t my childhood dream. My dream growing up had been to become a physiotherapist. Sadly, my A level results shattered that dream. With a pass in physics I pivoted with little thought, to study the laws of nature…


This knee jerk shift in focus led to a 20 year career in the aerospace and defence industry starting out as a graduate engineer!

Here I demonstrated enthusiasm, and a passion to learn, which resulted in rapid career progression. Comfortable with change, and gaining broad experience across a variety of business functions, I found myself promoted into differing leadership roles. Always curious about what made people tick and how to help them perform at their best.

However, my focus on people felt at odds with the broader culture of the organisation. Values and behaviours were firmly driven by a focus on performance and results. At times I felt the need to behave in ways which helped me to fit in, which led to inner conflict.

Constantly searching for fulfilment, my predicament became heightened following the birth of my two boys. I found myself torn between the career woman I’d become and the kind of mum I wanted to be. The two seemed incompatible, and so eventually I made a tough decision to leave the corporate world, exhausted and disillusioned.

What caused me such pain?

Looking back now I realise the values of the organisation conflicted with my own. This translated into personal choices and decisions that led to depression. I couldn’t reconcile being a good leader in this environment whilst being true to myself.

Inner conflict showed up as self doubt, could I trust myself to make good decisions, or to speak out about what I felt needed to change?

I felt like an outsider needing to belong. I wanted to make a positive difference, but rarely felt valued. From this low point, I set out on quest to find and educate myself. I sensed from an early age that I was born with a purpose, but felt confused, unsure what life was calling me to do. 

My challenging corporate experience has led me to care deeply about the experiences people have at work. Compelled to discover new ways to lead, I came across methodologies that showed me another way. I now know it’s possible to put people at the centre of what we do and for organisations to remain profitable. Most leaders discover this truth when they pause to listen within and connect with their own sense of purpose.

I believe the world of work needs human leaders more than ever right now. Leaders prepared to explore their own attitudes, become aware of their conditioned beliefs and find the courage needed to transform our workplaces.

Through my work with Lewis and essentially human, I’m deeply committed to supporting leaders realise their full potential. To be the best versions of themselves, so that we build more conscious workplaces, places where people feel fulfilled and alive.

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