About Us

It was never Karen’s intention to set up a niche advisory business. When she left her consulting firm position Karen pictured going back to her corporate M&A roots and working as a people and culture advisor on the strategy team of an Australian company expanding internationally. In theory it appeared the perfect role.

In conversations with Australian business leaders to test this plan, feedback was universal: “Great concept. We need that support, but not full time. Is it possible to do this for us but not be on our payroll when we don’t need you?!” Karen’s short answer: “Yes, of course I can. It is what I’ve been doing for many, many years.”

If you have time for a coffee or tea break, check out Karen’s Rainmakers Roundup interview to learn first hand about her business, research, back story, beliefs and views on her work with clients. Or listen to the interview as a podcast if that would suit you better.

Interview with Al Cini and Mark Lorio on Rainmakers Roundup

What We Do

We bring a clear focus to the experiences people have when they are impacted by businesses being joined together or taken apart, and work with clients to anticipate and manage their people-related deal risks.

Isely Associates provides M&A advisory services to organizations growing by merger, acquisition or other similar business transactions. 

  • We work with organizations to grow M&A leadership capability, actively manage culture, and engage employees to deliver both deal and business outcomes. 
  • We facilitate the quick capture of expected deal value, while avoiding costly collateral damage. 
  • We prepare business leaders and functional teams to effectively support all stages of M&A transactions. 
  • We become a flexible extension of teams to contribute seamlessly when it counts.

Our clients value both what we bring and how we deliver:

  • Practical, outcome-focused advice and coaching support
  • Specialist expertise and international experience not readily available in-house
  • Access to a trusted international go-to M&A network
  • Independent coordination of high value consulting resources
  • Tools and processes built in situ, for use on future deals
  • Organisation and team capability strengthened as a result of working side by side
  • Extension of team without adding to headcount
  • Corporate memory proxy, to make future projects more effective. 

How We Work

“Karen provided valuable guidance and expertise to our deal teams on several major transactions, including a complex global acquisition with challenging cultural and financial issues. I was always impressed with Karen’s high professional standards and strong client focus; her expertise in global M&A was an important supplement to our internal resources on deals.”  – Group Head of HR for Australian Conglomerate

Our tailored support can begin at any deal stage and clients invite us to join their teams for a host of reasons. What is happening in your business will determine how we can best contribute.

We can be engaged as advisors, facilitators or coaches, with flexibility of terms depending on our role and the type of outcomes required. 

We can work on a contract, project or retained basis, with negotiated availability at critical times always an option. 

Who We Work With

The nature of our work requires absolute discretion, so you won’t find a set of client logos on our website. However, we are always pleased to provide client references privately, as required and appropriate.

We work with business leaders, deal and people teams in medium-sized to large organizations that choose to extend their team preparation, deal execution and implementation capability. 

Some of our clients require specialist expertise; others simply require additional resources.

Clients seek us out if they currently are acquisitive and/or if they have been in the past. Those who typically will see the most benefit from building a relationship with us expect to do multiple transactions over time and therefore are keen to build internal capability to support future deals.

Meet Karen

“Karen brings a rare mix of vision and pragmatism to her consulting work. Her solutions are well thought through and business focussed, selflessly introducing others when they are better placed to advise. She brings a calm approach when things get challenging, and a challenging approach when things demand it. Karen is equally comfortable dealing with a Board Chair as she is with a front line employee. All of these attributes make her our valued adviser.”  HR Executive, Global Technology Organization

Karen is an M&A specialist and the founder of Isely Associates International, a niche advisory business that brings focus to critical people issues in mergers and acquisitions, positioning organizations to capture expected value quickly while avoiding collateral damage.

At every deal stage, clients draw on Karen’s experience as an HR professional, business leader and management consultant to anticipate and manage risks associated with leadership capability, incompatible cultures and communication challenges. 

As a trusted advisor, project leader and coach Karen has contributed to the success of many national and international business combinations for both corporate and private equity clients. 

Her groundbreaking global M&A research informs the Isely Associates approach to preparing business leaders and teams for deals.

Karen is known for her commercial focus, creativity, and professionalism, as well as for bringing together relevant expertise from her networks to serve the needs of her clients.

For the nitty gritty details, check out Karen’s LinkedIn profile.

Meet Our Associates

“Karen actively develops and maintains extensive global networks in the M&A and human capital consulting fields – people she has worked with and can draw upon with a high degree of confidence that they will deliver for her clients.” – Mercer Executive and Former Colleague

It is a luxury to choose the colleagues we work with and to have them choose us. Every time. Our shared philosophy for resourcing projects has always been “best in front” driven by client requirements. 

So, if the people required to see something through are not in the same organization, we find a way to make it work. And we collaborate fully with other advisors working with our clients, as a matter of course.

Isely Associates International has established several formal (but not exclusive) alliances and many, many informal arrangements in order to best deliver for clients.

Walking the Talk is a corporate culture management company that makes culture change do-able with a pragmatic methodology and easy-to-use tools, enabling organizations to produce sustainable culture shifts that lead to desired business results… show more

Internal Consulting Group (ICG) is an international provider of premium management consulting and project execution services delivered by high-calibre consultants and subject matter experts drawn from an extensive network of affiliates… show more

The Institute of Executive Coaching and Learning (IECL) has been training professional coaches and inspiring and developing leaders throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region since 1999. IECL clients are large organizations from a range of… show more

Transform specialises in translating complex messages into clear communications, offering business clients end-to-end solutions or alternatively, providing support for any aspect of the process (including strategy, research, planning… show more

The Leadership Circle is a global leadership assessment and development company at the forefront of the field, endeavouring to change the global leadership mind… show more

Walking the Talk is a corporate culture management company that makes culture change do-able with a pragmatic methodology and easy-to-use tools, enabling organisations to produce sustainable culture shifts that lead to desired business results. Isely Associates International is a Global Partner of Walking the Talk, bringing proprietary tools and resources to bear in support of cultural assessment, culture development and integration during mergers, acquisitions and other similar business transactions.

Internal Consulting Group (ICG) is an international provider of premium management consulting and project execution services delivered by high-calibre consultants and subject matter experts drawn from an extensive network of affiliates. ICG unites under one brand the alumni of the top-tier and mid-tier global consulting firms, subject matter experts, and specialists in critical practice areas such as strategy formulation, program and project execution, technology-led innovation, channel development, business intelligence and analytics.

The Institute of Executive Coaching and Learning (IECL) has been training professional coaches and inspiring and developing leaders throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region since 1999. IECL clients are large organisations from a range of Industries across Australia and the Asia-Pacific. IECL has coaches and facilitators located across the region who are experts in facilitating learning, engaging any audience and fostering change. Its Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) is the region’s most highly respected organisational coaching qualification, conforming to the rigorous standards set by the International Coach Federation.

Transform specialises in translating complex messages into clear communications, offering business clients end-to-end solutions or alternatively, providing support for any aspect of the process (including strategy, research, planning, content design and writing, production and evaluation).

The Transform team – communication specialists from top tier consulting firms, super funds and financial services organisations are flexible, responsive and they get things moving quickly. The team works collaboratively with client internal resources and other expert service providers.

In addition, Transform has a network of proven specialist communications suppliers including graphic designers, web developers, printers, photographers, mail houses and others, allowing delivery of a complete communications service.

The Leadership Circle is a global leadership assessment and development company at the forefront of the field, endeavouring to change the global leadership mind.

“We want to shift the leadership conversation in the world from one that is primarily focused on what extraordinary leaders do (a competency-based approach) to one that includes how leaders think—think in ways that allows them to become so extraordinary.”

The field of leadership development is a fragmented collection of theories and practices. The Leadership Circle has taken the best of what has been learned over the last half century and woven it into the first Unified Theory of Leadership Development to arise in the field. And, based on this unique framework, offers a complete and integrated System of Leadership Development. The combination is unparalleled.

The System supports leadership transformation—change that evolves authentically from the inside out—providing tools, methodology, and support for deepening the conversation with leaders so that change can occur on a deep, significant, life-altering level.

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