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Karen Baetzel      

Retired Navy Pilot and Leadership Expert

Like you, leadership expert and retired Navy pilot Karen Baetzel has seen the word leadership used in many contexts and has wondered what makes for a great leader. Are we born with leadership ability, do we attain leadership skills or is it thrust upon us and we hope for the best? She knows the answer and it has nothing to do with inheritance and “hope” is not a game plan. It’s not magic, it’s training.

Is this another self-proclaimed leadership “expert” spouting the latest platitudes? Not hardly. Captain Baetzel retired after 30 years as one of the Navy’s most senior female Naval Aviators. She is also one of the few Naval Aviators of either gender to qualified as an Aircraft Commander in fly helicopters, propeller and jet aircraft, amassing over 2000 military flight hours in six aircraft types and serving aboard seven ships.

After her Commanding Officer tour, she served as an instructor on the elite Navy Leadership Training Team for senior officers. This was followed by a very successful engagement in the corporate world before founding her own leadership development practice. Organizations such as NASA, Microsoft’s High Performers and the Departments of State and Defense, FDIC, National Corporation for National and Community Service and many others, the best and brightest partner with Baetzel when they want effective, sharp results.

She was honored in 2015 to be named one the nation’s top 101 Leadership Speakers by New York Times Best selling author Kevin Kruse. Additionally, Karen is a plankowner member of the National Women Veterans Speakers Bureau.

Baetzel is a fusion of a tough-minded senior military leader, a successful corporate executive and a gifted speaker and trainer. Her ability to engage her audiences and offer immediate tools and practical takeaways are a hallmark of a BattleAxe product. With a grateful heart and a salty dose of Navy humor, she dedicates her work to sharing the lessons of superior leadership and inspired living, both to pay it back and pay it forward.

Speech Topics


Do both your leaders and followers know how to work with each other? Uncover the potential you thought you hired and get immediate relief from underperformance.

Organizational Climate

Does your organization seem stuck? Worse yet, do you need to end unnecessary drama and prevent the disaster that can emerge from a poor organizational climate? Raise the tide and make work a stimulating, engaging place to be.


Have you felt overwhelmed (and a little scared) by the entire issue of workplace diversity and inclusion? If so, you are not alone. Make your organization greater than sum of its parts with some common sense, non-scary, tactics, tools and takeaways.

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