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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Karen Hamilton is a sustainability leader with extensive experience in a major FMCG organisation. She has driven market share and catalysed sustainable innovation across multiple global brands, and multiple impact areas such as climate, plastics and sustainable sourcing.


She is recognised in the industry for spearheading the creation of the ground-breaking Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Karen has innovated tangible open-source tools to integrate social and environmental goals into the business model, such as Unilever’s Five Levers for Change to tackle consumer behaviour change and Making Purpose Pay to build purpose into brands.

Karen was responsible for embedding sustainability as “the way Unilever does business” across functions and geographies. She convinced senior leadership of the business case for sustainability, driving growth and trust while reducing risk and cost. In particular, she helped establish sustainability as a driver of brand growth.

During her time at Unilever, the company’s ‘sustainable living brands’ grew twice as fast as the rest of the portfolio and its supply chain moved to 67% sustainably sourced agricultural materials. Unilever topped the Globescan Sustainability Leader Survey for over a decade.

Karen has served as a General Assembly member of the Eco Beauty Score Consortium and as a Board member of The Sustainability Consortium. She is Chair of the Pukka Teas Mission Council. Having recently left Unilever, she is now an independent sustainability advisor.

Prior to her career in sustainability, Karen held various marketing and strategy positions integral to core business and growing market share across 100+ countries.

Karen Hamilton
Sustainability Advisor