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Communication skills, leadership and human relations.


Avril Henry is a game-changer who tells it like it is. She is an internationally-acclaimed keynote speaker, author, leadership strategist, coach and provocateur who is passionate about diversity, and transforming old leadership models and workplace practices.

Current work

Avril is a Fellow of CPA Australia, a Senior Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Australian Human Resources Institute. Her corporate experience spans finance, IT, Human Resources and change management across mining; financial services; retail banking; professional services and investment banking; working in South Africa, Australia, Europe and USA.

Previous experience

Government: In 2013 she was appointed as an advisor to the Chief of Army on projects including gender diversity, values and culture, coaches several senior officers, and is the only civilian on the Army's Gender and Diversity Executive Council, chaired by the Chief of Army. She completed a Ministerial Review for the Minister of Defence in 2006 into Recruitment and Retention in the Army, Air Force and Navy. Following the review, she was appointed as a Strategic Advisor to the Chief of Navy, and joined the Navy's People and Capability Committee, being the only civilian on the committee and remains the longest serving member. The result of her work has been a repositioning of the military services to young Australians and a significant increase in recruits and more recently, cultural transformation of the Army. She convinced both the government and our military leaders to recognise that times had changed; there were different motivations across the generations and there needed to be a change in approach to a generation that had only known peace.

Leadership: Avril delivered a three-year leadership program to gifted scholarship students at the University of Western Sydney, in addition to their academic studies, to better prepare them for leadership positions in the future from 2008-2013.

Awards: In 2012 Avril received the Coaching Leadership Award at the Global HR Excellence Awards in Mumbai, India. In the same year she was invited to attend a global Leadership Best Practices program at Harvard Business School in the USA and was invited by the lecturers and her class mates to speak at the closing dinner. Over the past decade Avril has won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement in HR Award and been a finalist for Best HR Director at the Australian Human Resources Awards; been finalist in the Sydney Business Review Business Woman of the Year, recognised by the NSW government as part of International Women's Day; nominated multiple times for the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year, and been honoured in the Australian Who's Who of Women for the past six years as one of the most inspiring businesswomen and female leaders.

Clients: Her clients include IBM, BHP, Perseus Mining, Department of Defence, ATO, ACCC, Leighton Contractors, NSW Health, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Australian Public Service Commission, Westpac, CBA, University of Western Sydney, CPA Australia, Optus, Telstra, Australian Superannuation Funds Association, and various organisations and government departments across Asia.

Radio: For two years Avril had a weekly radio program with the ABC as the resident expert on workplace relations and HR, which was broadcast to 16 countries in Asia. She is regularly featured on radio and TV, and contributes articles to several industry publications and newspapers. She is the author and co-author of several books on leadership and the different generations at work, and her latest book Leadership Revelations II How Australians Lead In Crises topped the Australian Financial Review BOSS magazine's best brain food books of 2012. In 2010 she released her first children’s book.

Marathons: In her spare time you will find Avril completing adventure runs around the world to raise money for cancer research, including running the New York Marathon, Great Wall of China, in African game parks, and recently the Venice Marathon.

Talking Points

Self-Leadership = The Power of One

You cannot lead others unless you know how to lead yourself first. Self-leadership is about choices, self-awareness, self-belief and backing yourself. It is about taking care of yourself, before taking care of others. Self-care leads to self-preservation and a greater ability to lead others successfully. It is about the Power of One.

Leading the Future Workforce

In the year 2050... rapidly ageing populations and workforces in educated societies over the next three decades, global skills shortages and population growth confined to the 50 poorest countries in the world will create new and complex problems in society and business. Will you be prepared?

Technology, science, medicine, agriculture, mining, and the way we live and work will have changed radically and nothing will be as it was. Business models, strategic workforce planning and leadership styles will need to adapt now to ensure sustainable, corporate socially responsible and profitable businesses in the future.

Engaging and Understanding all Generations

Each generation in the workplace has different expectations of the organisation, career development, learning and development and their leaders, and are motivated by different things. Understanding these differences and harnessing the uniqueness of each generation enables managers and leaders to motivate and manage each generation for maximum employee engagement, productivity and performance.

The Recipe for Success = EQ + Resilience

According to Harvard Business School research, the greatest predictor of success in the future will not be in an individual’s IQ, it will be their EQ (Emotional Intelligence), and their resilience; their ability to pick themselves up from personal or professional hardships or problems, and move forward in a new, positive way. Their EQ will determine their success at influencing people, building relationships and valuing diversity. Are your people, and is your organisation emotionally intelligent and resilient?

Opening our Minds to Diversity

Diversity leadership is about understanding the value and strength of difference. It is about harnessing the strengths of gender, age, culture, disability, flexibility, and different ways of thinking, working, managing and leading. True diversity leadership results in creativity, innovation, and an environment where employees are encouraged to be the best they can be. On the other hand, conformity delivers more of the same old attitudes and problems, and cannot solve the problems of the future with existing thinking and methodologies.

The Leader of the Future

What will it take to lead the workforce of the future? By 2020 40% of the workforce will consist of Gen Ys, and Gen Zs will then be part of the workforce. Generation X will be the new senior managers and Baby Boomers will dominate boards in the private sector. This keynote is based on extensive interviews with over 100 successful leaders and future leaders and will give you a detailed insight into the characteristics required of future leaders.
Thank you for delivering a brilliant keynote presentation at TUF23. Your presentation set an extremely positive and enthusiastic vibe running through all delegates. Comments from your presentation were popping up everywhere, quoted in other sessions throughout the forum. There were plenty of references to Gens X and Y, the baby boomers and veterans. I think people had seen the light and felt empowered to make changes for the better, based on this new insight into generational differences. I can't stress enough how many people commented on your presentation and how fabulous it really was. I would like to also thank you for the time spent in preparing your presentation, traveling to and from TUF23 and speaking with delegates to answer their questions afterwards. HP Software & Solutions

For the past five years Avril has been working with Fund Executives Association Ltd to help the CEOs of Australia’s largest superannuation funds to become better leaders. Through keynote presentations and workshop facilitation, Avril has equipped fund executives with essential people management strategies and guided our members to consider and understand the critical role they play in establishing a workplace culture that values individuals and encourages team members to give and achieve their very best. Avril Henry has the unique ability to engage an audience, impart knowledge, inspire thought and motivate the change that leads to better outcomes for individuals and organisations.

Fund Executives Association Ltd

Ms Avril Henry has been working closely with the Royal Australian Navy through the 'Sea Change' program for approximately eight months. She was appointed as a Navy Strategic HR Advisor, not only to the program, but more broadly to all Senior Leadership of the RAN up to and including the Chief of Navy. This relationship has already proved to be most successful with significant momentum already achieved. She has provided invaluable contemporary HR insights that have greatly assisted the shape and direction of the Sea Change program that aims to improve retention within the Navy. Indeed, cultural reform is at the heart of the program! Avril is a highly dynamic and credible HR professional who has (at our request) challenged/confronted some of the more traditional HR practices of Navy. Avril has greatly assisted Navy to understand that there MUST be changes to the entire HR system such that it is far more responsive to the generational expectations of a contemporary workforce. Ms Henry is an outstanding and integral part of Navy’s Workforce Retention and Cultural Reform agenda.

Head Sea Change Implementation Team, RAN

Avril's knowledge of the global situation was impressive, extremely well planned, insightful and interesting. It was a lot of fun, hardly noticed the learning aspect; Avril had great energy... a practical session, especially on giving constructive feedback... the understanding of self was excellent.

NSW Health

Avril Henry was brilliant! I really enjoyed the topic - very well presented, informative, entertaining and one of the most thought-provoking topics I have listened to in a long time. She's a very polished presenter; I took away lots of information that will be useful at work. Avril would have to be one of the best speakers I have listened to in over 24 years.

IBM New Zealand
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