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Global Thought Leader in Play at Work

Employers who play, have employees who stay.

Dara Simkin is an expert facilitator, learning designer and Australia's leading play-at-work specialist.

As the founder of Culture Hero, a consultancy driving cultural change and experience design, Dara's mission is to ignite the human extraordinary through play.

She's worked with organisations like The LEGO Foundation and McKinsey & Co., as well as world-renowned play researcher Dr Stuart Brown and Silicon Valley's IDEO Play Lab. She is certified in the Danish learning methodology, KAOSPILOT, known for its innovative and dynamic approach to education and training, particularly in the fields of entrepreneurship, creativity, and leadership.

She is currently involved in a research collaboration with RMIT University, uncovering the benefits of a playful mindset in business as it relates to adaptability, teamwork and belonging.

Dara landed in Australia from the US in 2009 after winning a video competition that had her travelling around Tasmania in a camper van for 6 weeks -- and never looked back.

She believes play has the power to transform the way we live, work and lead and, in many cases, our collective future depends on it.

Talking Points

Adaptability at Play

People think the opposite of play is work, it’s not, it’s DEPRESSION. We’re currently in a laughter draught - war, the housing crisis, gender pay gaps. Babies laugh on average 400 times per day. People over 35 only laugh 15.

In 2022 Gallup reported that 48 per cent of Australians have high levels of stress at work, making them the second most stressed-out workers in the world.
A global pandemic currently being recognised by The World Health Organisation is not COVID-19, it’s BURNOUT. This keynote is the vaccine.
At today’s rate, we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century-it will be more like 20,000 years of progress.
In the face of such rapid change, playful adaptation becomes a vital resource. By embracing creativity, exploration, and experimentation, your organisation can navigate the complexities of this accelerated pace. Adaptability is really just play in a fancy suit.

Leaders need to make theirs offices a place of joy and belonging, so people want to be there.

In this dynamic, funny and experiential talk, “Adaptability at Play” gives your business the tools and techniques needed to play your way towards attracting and retaining the best talent, improving your people’s mental health and wellbeing, fewer sicks days, boosting productivity and collaboration, and amplifying creativity, motivation and innovation. This makes for happier bosses, teams, customers, stakeholders and employees; all of this leading to better profits and heaps of money.
You often hear about resilience, perseverance, relentless.....not often you see all of them in one single individual. Dara has a relentless optimism that is infectious, the resilience of someone with purpose and belief, and the perseverance of those that never give up. I have been touch by her magic and I am grateful for people like Dara, she brings fresh thinking that translates in action. She walks her talk and has a clear purpose and direction that makes you want to be part of the journey. The impact of her work is not only at a personal level, developing into the playful creative director of your life, it also touches organizational culture with magical moments where creative confidence drives innovation. If you want to experience what means to be fully alive, see Dara, she will not disappoint. Medibank

Dara has been incredibly influential to my approach to corporate life - in particular idea generation, change management and leading my teams. Her energy is infectious, her purpose is clear and she is next level passionate about helping people challenge the status quo and learn a new way of thinking. This is critical for any organisation in a world of growing complexity and constant change. In order to build an organisation that can shift, stretch and respond rapidly, you need a workforce that can deliver it. Dara's keynotes are the instrument to achieve this change in thinking.

KPMG Australia

I saw Dara present at a McKinsey conference. Her session made a real impression on me and I had plenty of laughs along the way. Dara provides plenty of practical tools and tips that executives can take back to their teams. One of my favourites is "yes, and". We have been using this technique in our teams since the conference and it has helped shift our dialogue in significant ways.


The feedback was outstanding. We have seen a number of the tools and takeaways continue to show up across our business to unlock new ways of collaborating and building on each other’s ideas. Our leadership team is now aware of the power of “Yes, And….”, and we have seen multiple teams introduce play into their organisational rituals.


Dara helped us identify the real anxieties that people needed help with, prioritised our objectives for the event and then came up with an innovative structure for delivering it. We realised the best thing was to roll with the ideas and put our trust in her. We’re very glad we did! The feedback from attendees was fantastic. The event was run several times and I was stunned by the impact that the play-based activities had on our teams.


Thank you for all the hard work, collaboration, and fun leading up to and organising the conference. Your dedication and playfulness were evident in every aspect of the event. Thank you for infusing the two days with your amazing energy and playfulness. Your dynamic presence and innovative ideas truly added a special touch to the conference, creating a memorable experience for all our leaders.

Australian Foundation for Disability
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