We’re pleased to announce that KAREN ABBS is joining our leadership team. In this Q+A she introduces herself and the role, and tells us what excites her as she gets started.
Congratulations, you’re our first ever Chief Thriving Officer! What does that mean?
Thanks! Well since Thrive Worldwide began, the team has been developing a ‘thriving model’. It consists of two sets of documents: one is what we believe individuals need in order to thrive; and the other is what organisations need as well. Both are rooted in the experience of our team, as well as peer-reviewed evidence. This model has always underpinned what we offer to clients. But up to now, we’ve not really shared it much publicly. My new role marks our intention to start rolling out a programme, based on this model, that we can run for individuals and for organisations.
Can you give an example of what’s in this model?
It’s comprised of a series of principles. Each principle can be articulated in one sentence, but will also have a whole paper with reflection questions available for people to read. If I take the organisational principles for example, one says that ‘clear communication at all levels of the organisation’ is needed. And for the individual principles, one says that‘it is possible for people to thrive in the midst of pain and impossibly difficult circumstances’ . And another is about choice: ‘individuals have the capacity to make choices to enable them to thrive’. As you can imagine, there’s so much to unpack and explore with each of these ideas!
What excites you about the role?
Well for a while now I’ve been helping Thrive turn this model into a thriving programme, which we’ve run with a couple of clients. And I really think we’ve found something transformative and profound with this model. It’s helped me personally to understand my own journey, and think about how each of us can be our best self, as individuals, in teams, and in organisations.
What else will your role involve?
I’ll oversee all of our facilitation work and be a strategic thought partner for our leadership team.
Tell us a bit about your background.
My degree is in Expressive Arts Therapy and Psychology, with a background in Anthropology as well. I started out in Canada as a Trauma Therapist for children and then began working internationally with Médecins Sans Frontières and other humanitarian organisations, setting up mental health programmes in conflict and post-conflict areas. Through working in the humanitarian sector for many years, I saw the impact of stress and trauma on staff and teams and moved my focus to staff care and wellbeing. My work now centres on organisational dynamics, facilitating adult learning, with the goal of helping individuals, teams and organisations to thrive. That’s a brief summary of my CV!
How do you relax when you’re not at work?
The cliché answers would be yoga and spending time with my friends. But really I like to relax through reflection as well. I have a journal that I write and draw in, just to spend time with myself and think about how I am doing. It’s fundamental to helping me process things.
You can get to know more members of our team here.