Bio: Dr Sutherland is a Lecturer in Public Relations and a social media researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Her passion is finding simple social media solutions for business and non-profit organisations that build positive and ongoing relationships with their customers and stakeholders.
Dr Sutherland has been employed in a range of marketing, communication and public relations roles at organisations such as Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABCTV), Grundy Television, Fremantle Media International, the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Monash University.


What do you do?
I’m a Lecturer, Public Relations Discipline Leader and a social media researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

What is your background?
After graduating with a Communications degree, I worked in television production for five years. I then switched to marketing and communication and worked in a range of sectors, and continued to study. In 2011, I entered the world of academia at Monash University in Melbourne. 2015 was a huge year for me. I moved to the beautiful Sunshine Coast, started a job that I adore at USC, bought my own place not far from Coolum Beach and finished my PhD. Talk about multi-tasking. J

Tell us a little about what you are working on right now:
Apart from a few research projects on the boil, my main focus at the moment is delivering a new minor (four courses) in Social Media at USC.

What inspired this idea?
Social media has become an integral communication channel for people from all professions. It was clear to me that while many of my students understand how to use social media platforms, they are unsure of how to use them in a professional and strategic way. I want to ensure that all USC students have the opportunity to be professionally proficient in social media before entering their chosen careers.

What is the most challenging thing about this project?
Creating all of the course content on top of my other responsibilities. However, it is definitely a labour of love. The courses are also available online and I’m a bit of perfectionist, so I want all students to have the best learning experience possible.

What is your favourite part of your job?
Seeing my students succeed both at university and after they graduate.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
This actually happened to me a few weeks ago. Long-story short, I received a Linked-In message from an employee at one of Australia’s most well-known not-for-profit organisations who said that they had read my PhD thesis, followed some of my recommendations and they worked. That LinkedIn message made my decade. J

Do you have any advice for women wanting to enter this industry?
Never lose sight of your goal. While the path may change along the way, work hard and persevere no matter what. Also, don’t take things personally. It’s an industry where our work is constantly scrutinised, particularly in relation to research. The criticism can burn sometimes, but take a day to digest it before responding. Then, get back up and forge ahead with even greater conviction.

Who inspires you the most?
Anyone who uses their influence, privilege or position to help others up.

What motivates you to keep going?
Progress makes me hungry for more. I have come a long way, particularly in the last few years in terms of my personal, spiritual, fitness and career development. Another huge motivation for me is seeing my students succeed and hearing from people in the community that my work has been helpful to them. One of my favourite quotes is by Robin Sharma who says that “In the end, all that will matter is who you became, and how many people you helped.” I think they’re great principles to live by.

How do you create balance in your life?
I keep things simple and try to nourish my body mind and spirit every day.

Body: I’m a CrossFitter four days per week at CrossFit Bruth in Coolum, practice yoga asanas every morning and I walk on weekends.
Mind: My job stimulates my mind constantly, so I’m very fortunate in that respect.
Spirit: I’m a Jignasu Sannyasin in the Satyananda Yogic tradition, so begin and end the day with spiritual practices that feed my soul. I have included yogic practices in my day for the past 10 years and the benefits have been life changing. I’m also a sucker for a beach sunrise, so most weekends I begin my mornings before dawn, sitting on my favourite rock awaiting nature’s amazing sky show. I also love sharing these moments on Instagram.

According to you, what is the definition of success?
Helping people whenever you can and being a positive influence.

What is your opinion on eco-friendly brands?
Eco-friendly brands are essential as they provide environmentally ethical options and educate consumers about positive alternatives.

Best beauty advice/tip:
Whatever you do, do it to please yourself. Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business.

Words to live by:
Own your life like birds possess the sky.


Where to find Karen?
Instagram: @karenesutherland
Twitter: @kesutherland777