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Dr Ellen
Joan Ford (Nelson)

Leadership expert: ex-Army, academic, business Mum


Dr Ellen Joan Ford (Nelson) is terrifyingly ambitious about changing the working world, for the betterment of people and organisational performance. And when you see her track record for tackling the seemingly impossible, and bringing people along with her, you will find it difficult to fault her logic. As a speaker, facilitator and consultant in the leadership space, Ellen helps organisations to improve staff wellbeing, retention, leadership, productivity, innovation and business performance. Ellen provides a fresh perspective, delivered authentically with high energy, for how leadership can be done differently.

Ellen’s life story is rich, and her deep expertise and practical experience is in leadership, as well as gender, well-being and the future of work. She has served in the NZ Army, completed an MBA and PhD in leadership, runs her own business, is the co-lead for a nationwide leadership project in New Zealand’s food and fibre sector, and is raising two little boys. Ellen has spoken at TEDx, numerous corporate and government organisations, including the NZ Army, FMG, Fulton Hogan, KPMG, EY, IGA and more, and her research and ideas to improve the working world have been published internationally multiple times. She is deeply passionate about improving the working world and has used her research and leadership experiences to start the #workschoolhours and #belongingautonomypurpose movements.

Ellen is a force to be reckoned with. Her volunteer team evacuated 563 people from Afghanistan to New Zealand. She is the Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the Year 2023 ‘Local Hero’ and was also awarded Person of the Year 2022 - Manawatu Standard.

A fantastic speaker who kept our audience engaged throughout - not an easy task given it was the morning after a fairly late night! HIANZ

Ellen demonstrated a passion for leadership to transcend the ordinary and deliver the extraordinary. Ellen’s openness, honesty and positive energy was in itself an inspiration for our farming leaders.

Craigmore Sustainables

Ellen’s presentation at BCITO’s Construction Summit was absolutely on point. Feedback from our 120 industry representatives present was extremely positive.


Ellen was a fantastic speaker… thought-provoking, stimulated significant discussion amongst attendees and was delivered with good humour.


Ellen’s passion combined with the research she has completed made for an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable session. Ellen is an excellent speaker

Ernst & Young

An engaging speaker, Ellen held the room completely and led the conference in her open and honest manner through numerous and related subjects.

NZ Army

Ellen’s presentation style is highly engaging and she shared her expert knowledge with passion.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Ellen is an inspirational speaker with a unique and engaging presentation style… your presentation absolutely hit that mark.

Business Whanganui

You were the hit of the day Ellen- you’re a star!

New Zealand Food & Grocery Council

Ellen’s engagement and candour were outstanding. Her knowledge, passion, and ability to connect with an audience are truly remarkable.

The Spinoff

Your session was thought provoking, courageous, current and inspiring… your delivery was engaging, honest and energetic and you shouldn’t change a thing.

Metcash Food
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