Speakers

The Corporate Health and Wellbeing Summit is packed with expert professional speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds.

The Corporate Health and Wellbeing Summit attracts a fantastic mix of inspirational speakers and successful case study speakers. The 2021 summit will build upon this tradition, with an agenda packed full of exceptional speakers.

Would you like to be considered as a speaker at future ThinkTank events? You can submit an application here.

Paula Bennett

Charisma, grit, strength, and resilience describe Paula Bennett, from a teenage solo mum to Deputy Prime Minister – Paula is a character who will surprise and delight!

Paula is currently the Director of Strategic Advisory at Bayleys Commercial and prior to that she had a remarkable parliamentary career spanning 15 years. Her roles in New Zealand politics included being a list MP, an electorate MP for 12 years and earning a seat in Rt Hon Sir John Key’s cabinet as the Minister of Social Development and Employment, Disabilities, and Youth Affairs.

Paula held a diverse range of portfolios including associate Finance, State Services, Social Housing, Police, Local Government and Tourism. In her role as Minister for Climate Change, Paula worked closely with the agriculture, forestry and business sectors to make a real impact on the way we live our lives and protect our planet, and signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Paula also served as Deputy Prime Minister and was the Deputy Leader of the National Party until her departure from politics in 2020 where the corporate world welcomed her with open arms with her wealth of knowledge and experience.

As a speaker, Paula can share her experiences in government and her personal perspective of where she see’s New Zealand moving forward, sharing her insights on what the private sector can bring.
Paula also shares an inspiring story through her own personal journey of resilience, overcoming adversity, smashing ceilings, and setting goals to achieve big dreams.

As said in Paula’s maiden speech – her desire is to see New Zealanders succeed and thrive! And she would love to share her experiences to help make that happen.
We all have “stuff” and life is always going to happen, but there is a whole lot we can control and setting and achieving goals will help get you there.

Hannah McQueen

Hannah McQueen

Hannah McQueen is a financial force of nature. Since founding enable.me in 2007, she and her team around the country have helped thousands of Kiwis get in control of their financial situation, get mortgage-free fast and prepare for retirement. Her clients all tell a similar story – that she changed their lives (and they wish they’d met her 10 years earlier!).

Hannah is a chartered accountant and a fellow of the Australasian society, an authorised financial advisor and has her Masters in tax. She’s a regular media commentator, columnist and guest speaker on finance issues, valued for her ability communicate complex topics in a simple and relatable way.

She’s the author of three best-selling personal finance books including “Kill Your Mortgage and Sort Your Retirement”, “Pocket Money to Property – How to Raise Financially Independent Kids” and “The Perfect Balance”.

In recent years, Hannah has expanded enable.me’s suite of services to help New Zealanders with many more stages of their financial lives. enable.me’s core services are complemented by property investment coaching, insurance advice, financial education for young people, and coaching for SME business owners.

The goal is simple: to help as many people as possible to improve not only their financial position but their wellbeing.

David Downs

David Downs

David Downs is the co-author of a number of books in NZ, on serious topics written in a humorous and accessible style. David is an engaging and regular public speaker and presenter.

David’s early career started as an actor, writer and stand-up comedian, before pursuing a corporate career that has seen him be very successful as a business and now government leader, always bringing with him the belief that you don’t need to be solemn to tell a serious story, and that humour in the workplace and in home life is one of the best ways to lift performance.

Jase Te Patu

Jase Te Patu

Jase Te Patu is an award-winning speaker with more than 25 years of experience in the health and wellness sector – first in group fitness, then dance and now yoga and meditation.

Before he discovered yoga, Jase was a performer in musicals such as The Lion King, Jersey Boys and Miss Saigon (Australian Tours). He also trained Les Mills group fitness instructors around the world.

Jase is a co-owner of Awhi Yoga & Wellbeing. His students include the All Blacks, the Hurricanes, the Silver Ferns, the Pulse, the NZ School of Dance contemporary students and many more high-performance athletes.

Jase is also creator of Te Reo Yoga Cards and founder of M3 Mindfulness for Children. M3 encompasses mindfulness, movement and Maori stories in a series of videos and live sessions taught to over 10,000 Primary school and Early Childhood aged children throughout New Zealand.

Jase has received many awards for his work particularly in the mental health and wellbeing space. These include the NZ Exercise Industry Awards, 2018 Body/Mind Teacher of the Year, the Lifekeeper’s Award for Suicide Prevention, the Regional Local Hero medal as part of the New Zealander of the Year Awards 2018, and the Absolutely Positively Wellington Award 2019.

Jase is a Champion for Youthline, an Edmund Hillary Fellow and an Ambassador for international brand lululemon.

Sue Kohn-Taylor

Sue Kohn-Taylor is an expert life-navigator, a master of motivation, and a specialist resilience coach. From her own lived experiences she knows that attitude and aptitude are critical in order to respond proactively and positively to life’s inevitable curveballs. She also knows that we humans aren’t necessarily born with these traits, but that they can be learned and shared. It’s something she likes to call mental fitness.

As the passionate founder of The Mental Fitness Company, Sue’s 20 years’ experience in personal development, positive psychology, wellbeing and mind training form the foundation for her mission: to educate and empower others so that being a human is an easier job.

Known for her friendly, warm and down to earth attitude and techniques for simplifying life, Sue’s speaker sessions and workshops are full of personal stories and “mind food” to take away and digest as well as actions to apply to help making being a human an easier job!

A regular on TV, a column writer and a frequent speaker, she dedicates her time to sharing her vision, because she believes that building a mentally fit mind is the most important gateway to gaining freedom over any life event.

Sue champions the concept that regular education and training of the mind around four key mental fitness pillars provides the necessary skills to positively impact lives, organisations and communities. As the world navigates its biggest curveball in recent history, mental fitness and wellbeing is more important than ever. The added benefit, of course, is the influence our own wellbeing then has on our children, families and friends.

Suzi McAlpine

Suzi specialises in leadership development, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand. An experienced author and mentor, Suzi writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to inspire and improve leadership in individuals, teams and organisations.

Suzi is the author of the bestselling book Beyond Burnout: How to Spot it, Stop It and Stamp it Out, published by Penguin Random House NZ in 2021. https://suzimcalpine.com/beyond-burnout/

She has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in many guises. As a self-renowned ‘leadership geek’, Suzi’s years of experience includes being an executive search consultant, associate director, executive coach, and a practice leader for a division of the world’s largest HR consulting firm.

Suzi also is the creator of The Leader’s Map, a blended online leadership platform provides organisations wishing to equip their emerging leaders with the necessary leadership capabilities for success.

Suzi is based in Nelson, Aotearoa New Zealand.

Phillippa Powell

Philippa Powell (panel member)

Phillippa plays a key role in creating an enviable employee experience through her leadership of organisational development programmes. She supports, influences and advises organisations to effectively deliver upon business and people strategies, raise engagement and drive positive culture through projects and initiatives focused on wellbeing, diversity and inclusion.

She’s extremely passionate about designing and delivering innovative OD initiatives that enable people to shine and for organisations to be awesome places to work. Projects she’s recently been involved on include gender equity, cultural diversity, flexible working, mental health, anti-bullying and Rainbow Tick accreditation. She also leads Chorus’ holistic wellbeing programme that covers four pillars – mental, physical, career and financial wellbeing. She plays a visible and valuable role in an organisation by influencing and motivating others via a range of committees and networks.

Her varied experience comes from working in human resources for over 14 years in recruitment, business partnering and organisational development roles in internal HR teams and the HR consultancy environment. Her goal is to create positive working environments underpinned by a wellbeing culture that supports a sense of belonging.

Outside of her day job, she’s a self-confessed Wellbeing Junkie! She’s a competitive CrossFitter, yogi, runner, snowboarder, qualified nutritionist and real food enthusiast to name a few of her healthy addictions. She also recently merged her profession with her passion by starting up her own wellbeing and nutrition coaching business, The Wellbeing Junkie.

Tamara Buckland (panel member)

Tamara is a hugely passionate People Experience and OD consultant, setting up workplaces that are inclusive, supportive of people’s wellbeing and career development, and fosters a culture that allows people from all backgrounds and ways of working to feel like they belong and to thrive. She advocates for normalising conversations about mental health, aims to create environments that allow for brave conversations and holds space for people to be vulnerable and show up to work as and how they are.

Tamara has a varied background from running her own businesses, working in government departments, teaching Mental Health First Aid to most recently getting into people management and experience roles. Throughout her career, she has always found space to support others, to empower them to grow and thrive at work and to help companies understand how they could better support their people in bold and innovative ways.

As well as consulting for a number of different companies as her day job, Tamara is also the designer of The Wellbeing Deck, a card game that was created after a particularly low point in Tamara’s own mental health journey. It’s designed to help individuals, families and groups to learn more about how to support their own mental health and normalise conversations in workplaces about wellbeing. The Wellbeing Deck is launching in September.

Outside of work, Tamara is an avid Dungeons and Dragons player, spends most of her money on getting tattooed and is a practising druid who loves getting out and about in nature.

Lauren Parsons (masterclass facilitator)

Lauren is an award-winning wellbeing specialist who believes that everyone deserves to thrive. With 19 years’ experience in the health and wellbeing profession she is a sought-after speaker, coach and consultant.

TEDx speaker, author of real food less fuss, and Seven Fitness Myths to Overcome, founder of the Snack on Exercise movement and host of the THRIVE TV ShowLauren helps busy people re-discover how to feel vibrant, confident and energised.

Described as inspiring and life-changing, Lauren is a dynamic and highly engaging presenter, and master story-teller who will have you laughing, moving and learning in a memorable way. You will leave Lauren’s session feeling uplifted and empowered to create positive change, today!

Lauren lives in Palmerston North, New Zealand, with her husband and three children, she can often be found hosting dinner parties, spending time outdoors or playing board games. Lauren travels regularly to speak at conferences and in-house, and specialises in helping organisations create a high-energy, peak-performance team culture, which enables people to thrive.

Gary Hewson (masterclass facilitator)

Gary demonstrates a deep understanding of the challenges leaders face and is committed to demonstrating the effectiveness of training, including validating ROI.

Gary also manages the development of measurement and assessment systems for Umbrella, in addition to facilitating training and providing individual coaching.

Gary’s professional history includes a 10-year career mostly in the UK financial and information technology sectors in senior business management roles. This experience in companies ranging from multinationals to start-ups informs Gary’s work with leaders.

As a registered clinical psychologist with a specialist interest in wellbeing and positive performance, Gary has extensive experience providing individual coaching and facilitating training for a wide variety of teams across the public and private sector. His facilitation areas of expertise include resilience, positive leadership, productivity and performance, and leading high performing teams.

Nadine Higgins (MC)

Nadine Higgins (nee Chalmers-Ross) is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with extensive experience across television, radio, newspapers and magazines. Nadine is renowned as a fiercely intelligent, articulate and engaging MC.

Current work
Nadine is an in-demand MC, and currently the head of communications and content at enableMe – Financial Personal Trainers. She’s worked for some of New Zealand’s top shows including Morning Report, One News, NZI Business, Seven Sharp, Breakfast, The Sunday Star Times, and currently, The Project and The AM Show.

Nadine’s background in broadcasting and business journalism means she can quickly get to grips with complex topics, moderate multi-person panels and think on her feet when the best laid plans go awry.

Nadine brings elegance, eloquence and charm to a glittering gala dinner and to a conference she lends her sharp mind, professionalism and quick wit.
Many of Nadine’s clients book her year after year because they believe her skills as an MC, facilitator and interviewer are difficult to surpass.

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