Dean, Omnicom University
Karen van Bergen became the third Dean of Omnicom University (OU) in January 2020, succeeding Janet Riccio (who passed away in July 2019) and Tom Watson, who founded OU in 1995.
In addition to serving as Dean of OU, Karen leads Omnicom’s Common Ground initiative, which supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. With a specific focus on SDG#4 Education, she will supervise the company’s existing partnerships with Theirworld and other relevant NGOs.
Before being appointed Dean of OU, Karen was CEO of Omnicom Public Relations Group, bringing more than 30 years of agency- and client-side experience to that role. She held responsibility for all public relations and public affairs firms within Omnicom, encompassing more than 6,300 employees.
Prior to Omnicom PR Group, Karen served as CEO of Porter Novelli. Over a three-year period, Karen led the agency on a path of significant transformation—marked by growth and award-winning work and capped by recognition as a 2014 PRWeek Best Place to Work—a result of Karen’s steadfast focus on talent. She served as managing director of Porter Novelli’s New York office from 2011-2012. Before Porter Novelli, Karen spent four years at FleishmanHillard, most recently as senior partner, senior vice president and global lead for OneVoice, an integrated Omnicom team serving Royal Philips Electronics.
Working in-house, Karen served two stints with McDonald’s in Europe and Asia totaling more than 13 years; she also worked with The Coca-Cola Company and Outboard Marine Corporation.
Karen’s leadership has been recognized with honors including Ad Age “Woman to Watch” and New York Business Journal “Woman of Influence.” In 2017, she was PR jury president at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity and was the first woman ever ranked #1 on the PRWeek Power List. Karen is a founding board member of Omniwomen and serves on the boards of Morning Consult, the New York Pops, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the US Friends of the Royal Concert Hall Orchestra.