Karen Spens is Rector of Hanken School of Economics since 2015. She received her doctoral degree in 2001 and became professor of supply chain management and corporate geography in 2007. In 2006, she co-authored a seminal article that called for more research in the field of humanitarian logistics. In 2008, an institute for humanitarian logistics with the Defence University in Finland was created working together with NGOS, amongst others UNICEF and the Finnish Red Cross. Today, the HUMLOG institute is one of the leading research institutes in the field of humanitarian logistics with a broad network of industry partners, NGO partners as well as universities. The first journal, now the premiere journal in this field, was also started at the institute, with Karen Spens as a co-editor of Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management. With the help of several large research grants, the field has since advanced into a field of importance in logistics and professor Spens has co-authored several books in the field, chapters in books and articles that have appeared in a broad spectrum of journals both within logistics as well as other related fields, for example disaster studies. She has also been the co-editor of the International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, as well as served on many of the editorial boards of premiere logistics journals. To develop the research area and cooperation within the field of humanitarian logistics Professor Spens has been a visiting researcher at BI (Norway), MIT (USA), Clark University (USA), and Griffith University (Australia). Professor Spens has also been involved in the startup of the so called Business Lead Program, a very successful initiative to integrate highly educated immigrants and refugees in the Finnish business culture. The program has won international awards (The EFMD Excellence in Practice (EiP) Gold medal) and was presented by Professor Spens at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in 2019.
In 2010, professor Spens became the Dean of Education with a responsibility for the development of the AoL process. She has since been actively participating in other AACSB related events and work and also serves on the European Advisory Council. She is active in many different boards, the National council of the Finnish Rectors, the Nordic University Rectors Council, and the National Defence University. She has been invited as a member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters. She is also active in voluntary work and amongst others a board member of the foundation for Kvarteret Victoria which is a center for art and culture in Helsinki.