On-Site Magazine

Adams in as CEO WCB Nova Scotia

By Adam Freill   

Construction Health & Safety Leadership

Experienced change leader set to lead organization working to keep Nova Scotia workplaces safe and secure from workplace injury.

Karen Adams (Photo courtesy of WCB Nova Scotia)

Karen Adams is the new chief executive officer at Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB). Saeed El-Darahali, chair of the organization’s board of directors, explained that the board is looking forward to her leadership and the opportunities it will bring. Adams was selected following an exhaustive national search process.

“We’re very pleased to welcome someone of Karen’s calibre and experience to lead our organization into a very bright future,” said El-Darahali. “Karen is a visionary, respected leader with a proven track record of leading complex organizations through change and renewal. These are exciting times for the system and for the WCB, and we’re thrilled Karen will lead us through them.”

Adams was recognized in 2017 as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network and was voted by her peers as CEO of the Year by Wealth Professional in 2019. She has held leadership positions in organizations around the world, including serving as president and CEO of Fundserv Inc, a financial technology firm serving the investment fund industry across Canada, leading the organization through a major business transformation. She has also served as president and CEO of the Alberta Pensions Services Corporation, and held a number of senior executive positions internationally with HSBC Bank.

Considered to be a change leader, she has repeatedly managed large technology transformation projects and led people through cultural change. Born and raised in Toronto, she has spent much of her career outside Canada, working in Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Dubai, London and Amman.


She serves on the boards of a number of organizations, including the Canadian Depository for Securities, the Canadian Capital Markets Association, the military veterans support organization True Patriot Love, and as chair of the board for The Country Day School in Toronto.

Her not-for-profit and community pursuits have included an arctic expedition in 2019 to raise money for veterans and their families, and she was among the first CEOs to sign a pledge to tackle systemic racism as part of the BlackNorth Initiative.

“I have had the privilege of building my career in a variety of industries across four provinces in Canada and nine countries around the world. But every place I’ve worked has one simple thing in common – they’re all local communities, people serving people in the same community,” stated Adams. “It’s about working together to make lives better, helping others achieve their goals, take care of their families.

“WCB plays an incredibly important role in Nova Scotia, from preventing workplace injury to return to work, or supporting families over the long term. The pieces are in place for a world class workers’ compensation system in Nova Scotia, and that will be our goal. I am truly honoured to join the organization.”

Adams and her husband, Wes, are in the process of relocating to Nova Scotia, where they look forward to enjoying hiking, and other oceanside outdoor pursuits.

“As we welcome Karen and her family to the organization and our province, I also want to thank Shelley Rowan, who has provided expert leadership as interim CEO over the past eight months,” said El-Darahali. “Shelley’s efforts have ensured that Karen begins her tenure at a time when the WCB is on a solid financial footing, ready to embrace new opportunities to keep more working Nova Scotians and their workplaces safe and secure from workplace injury in the years ahead.”




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