Hester joined Adnams - the Suffolk-based brewer and distillers - in 1988 as a part-time cleaner with a background in Army logistics and transport. After progressing in logistics, procurement and transport, she became operations director in 2007 and is now responsible for over 400 employees.
In 2008 Hester won the title of East of England Business Woman of the Year and won the CBI First Women Business of the Year 2013 in recognition of Adnams’ success in supporting women employees to reach their full potential.
Chairman of the board Jonathan Adnams said: “Karen has a superb proven track-record for her management of all areas of our business. She is well-respected throughout the organisation and we look forward to her joining the main board.”
In her new role, Hester has responsibility for the operations of the Adnams brewery, distillery, hotels, pubs and shops.
Karen Hester added: "Adnams is a fantastic company which firmly believes in nurturing and developing its own people. I joined Adnams some 26 years ago and have been positively encouraged and supported throughout my career. I feel honoured and extremely proud to be the first female executive director to join the board and am looking forward to continuing to support others to develop their own careers."