Karen is the Chairperson of Villa Maria and has served on the Board of Directors for nearly 20 years - becoming Chair in 2006 - following a successful career in international banking with ANZ.
Karen started to show an interest in the family business as a teenager, and worked in the Villa Maria wine shop whilst studying towards her Bachelor of Arts Degree (Psychology) at the University of Auckland. Being born into a Croatian family, wine has been in her blood from a young age.
During her mid 20's, Karen spent a vintage in Bordeaux picking grapes at châteaux owned and managed vineyards from the renowned French wine merchants, Établissements Jean-Pierre Moueix.
Karen was involved in the establishment of two specialist vineyard companies in 1992 and 1998, and the development of Villa Maria's Auckland winery, which opened in 2005.
With Villa Maria being a long time sponsor of the Auckland Theatre Company, Karen joined the Theatre Company Board in 2011 to support their efforts to secure a permanent home on the Auckland waterfront.
In 2011 Karen joined the Board of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand’s economic development agency, and is proud to contribute to their efforts to support businesses seeking international growth.
Karen is also a member of the New Zealand Global Women network, which works to encourage women into senior leadership roles.
Karen is married to Milan Brajkovich, Vineyard Director at Kumeu River Wines. They live on the Kumeu River Vineyard with their two children, Matthew and Anna.