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“Best speaker of the year”

“I took so much from that [presentation and workshop] I can’t wait to get back to school and talk with my team”

“I was thinking this morning that I was going to leave early, go back to school and sort some things out. I am so bloody glad I didn’t”

Feedback from Principals who attended the Waikato Principals Association Conference
Ellen speaks from the heart; she is genuine and authentic, she also draws on relevant and truly credible experience to back up what she is saying. Our exec team all gained a lot from our session with Ellen – looking forward to our next catch up.
Wing Commander Christopher Ross, Commanding Officer – 3SQN, No 3 Squadron RNZAF
The webinar was an outstanding success! For these kinds of sessions to work well and to get the audience engaged, a certain kind of chemistry is needed amongst the panel, and you had it in spades! I loved how you (Ellen Joan Nelson, Sarah Archer and Josh Williams) bounced off each other with nuances, examples and great insights – to the extent that it was completely impossible to keep up with all the comments in the chat, which is not always the case. Afterwards, my team was reflecting on how rich the content was and how we could easily have carried on for another 30 mins without anybody noticing. Indeed high praise from a team who sit through many webinars. Thank you very very much for a fantastic session. I hope you enjoyed it as much. Looking forward to catching up soon. Ngā mihi nui.
Maretha Smit, Chief Executive, Diversity Works NZ

Feedback from NZ Law conference 2023:

  • What an engaging speaker who posed some excellent questions, and elicited equally interesting responses
  • Fantastic speaker and great insight into the possibilities of being flexible. I also found it very affirming as we are already being flexible with our staff.
  • Fantastic presenter – so much relatable information.
  • Great presenter full of energy.
  • Engaging presenter
  • Very interesting and it made me to be more aware of challenging my thinking as to why something is being done
  • I found both ideas (working school hours & belonging, autonomy and purpose) to be thought provoking and worth more exploration.

Heather Menzies, Conference & Administration Manager, NZ Law

We were privileged to have Dr Ellen Joan Nelson speak at our industry conference recently. As the opening keynote speaker on day two of conference, the morning after our industry ‘Party Night’, we needed someone who was upbeat and engaging throughout. She certainly achieved this. Ellen is a very dynamic and captivating speaker who shared some fantastic stories which were easily relatable to our audience. I would highly recommend Dr Ellen Joan Nelson to anyone looking to engage a motivational keynote speaker.

Debra Dufty, Events Manager, Hire Industry Association of New Zealand (Inc.)

It was our great honour on the 18th August 2023 that Dr Ellen Joan Nelson, Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year: Local Hero 2023 (who alongside her team brought 563 Afghan evacuees to live safely in New Zealand) came and talked to staff and leaders of non-profit Networks from throughout New Zealand. Dr Nelson with her experience in the Army, her standing as an academic, and as a business focused mum, came with a wealth of expertise and advice for our teams who in the past three years have been stretched by serving their communities through floods, Covid, weather events; acts of violence and innumerable attacks on our sector from those who do not understand what we do. Morale can drop, and stress levels are high. We are a sector with people who are burnt out and tired, and Dr Nelson came to talk about personal wellbeing when you are in high stress situations and how to look after yourself.

Dr Nelson recounted her journey to enable against all odds to rescue Afghani friends to the Army during the Afghan war.  She talked about leadership and focusing on our own wellbeing to be able to best help others.  She discussed ways of thinking that help us to appreciate ourselves, and to continue using our energy in remaining positive and pushing through problems. Her unapologetic example of being a mother and a working woman caused us all smiles as her gorgeous son Monty entertained everyone during her presentation. 

In our feedback from participants, Ellen was often quoted as the highlight of the day. We recommend her fresh, authentic and interesting viewpoints and stories to anyone who is looking for a fascinating speaker with life experience and empathy.

Ros Rice, CEO, Community Networks Aotearoa.
Ellen was a keynote speaker to Craigmore’s annual farming conference on the importance of belonging, purpose and autonomy. Through real world examples, presented with great energy and raw honesty, 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.
Reuben Casey, CEO, Craigmore Sustainables

Our leadership team and managers were lucky enough to recently attend a workshop with Ellen. Her presentation style is highly engaging and she shared her expert knowledge with passion. The real life examples and insight into how flexible working can benefit the wellbeing of our kaimahi, and how focusing on outputs increases productivity, were inspiring. It reinforced much of the work we have already done at Ngā Taonga, and we hope to have her join us again as we expand our work in this space.

Honiana Love (ia/she/her), Tumu Whakarae · Chief Executive, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

We invited Ellen to be a panellist at our “Breaking Boundaries in Business” event and her contribution to this panel was phenomenal. She captivated the audience with her passion for people’s work to work for them, no bullsh*t attitude, and really had people engaged with the messages she was bringing. To give a sense of understanding of your value to all women listening, but in particular parents returning to the workforce, is such an incredible empowerment. If you are fortunate enough to hear Ellen speak it will truly change your perspective on your working life for the better.

Chloē McLaren-Brown, Events Manager, Palmerston North City Council

I was fortunate to be part of a team who organised Ellen to speak as part of a panel discussion involving four women in business who are breaking boundaries. Ellen doesn’t just break boundaries; she wants you to break them with her and gives you the inspiration and tools to do so. That was definitely one message I picked up on … Ellen wants everyone to come with her. And it makes sense, it is not overly complicated, as well and being easy for anyone to pick up and run with. The real beauty of Ellens work I think, is that it can be taken to anyone and everyone.

Ellen’s candour, passion and drive is infectious! Her stories derived from her career and research not only shine a light on how she achieved bringing 563 refugees after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban who were former colleagues of the NZDF and the families, but how we can all contribute to improving our workplaces, to enhance our leadership and support our staff.

And how can I help Ellen change the world and do this:

  • What ever you are doing, be and bring your authentic self
  • Create an environment for you and your staff to thrive via belonging, autonomy and purpose
  • Use that environment to direct the tasks you and your staff need to do/achieve
  • Leaders – bring your best version of you

Thanks for your insight, your humour and message. Truly inspirational. I have no doubt Ellen, that you will amass your own Army and definitely change the world for the better! 😊

Melissa Steedman, Events Manager , Palmerston North City Council

Thank you so much for joining us last evening and for sharing your stories, thinking, passion and humanity with us. You are an inspirational speaker with a unique and engaging presentation style which we all really enjoyed. We called this speaking series, Thought Leadership, and your presentation absolutely hit that mark. It was brilliant to see attendees fizzing with ideas and inspiration, and I’m pretty sure attendees had an actual spring in their step as they left last night; a sure sign that you connected with hearts and minds in that room.
There was a lot of alignment with our thinking within the Business Whanganui community, and I will make a point to stay in touch and to follow your journey.

Helen Garner, Chief Executive, Business Whanganui

I agree with everything Helen said and I too had hoped to message you earlier. It was a fabulous presentation and with so much evidence to support the positives of #workschoolhours and #belongingautonomypurpose more organisations should be adopting this model. Many thanks.

Bronwyn Paul, Campus Manager – Whanganui, UCOL

Attending the ‘Leadership of the future – a refreshing view’ event at Carrick Winery on Saturday, 24 June 2023, was an absolute delight. Ellen’s talk on her philosophy of leadership and the #BelongingAutonomyPurpose movement left a profound impact on me.

Ellen’s presence as a speaker was truly inspiring. Despite facing the challenge of somewhat losing her voice that day, her delivery was impeccable. Her authenticity and genuine passion for the subject shone through, making her message all the more compelling. Ellen’s content was thought-provoking and refreshingly honest; she fearlessly addressed the realities of leadership and the struggles of working parents – and the solution is so simple!

The audience response was overwhelmingly positive, captivated by her remarkable story and the sincerity in her words. Moreover, having her 2-year-old son, Monty, with her added a unique touch of warmth and relatability.

In conclusion, the event was nothing short of brilliant. It left me feeling motivated and empowered, and I am grateful to have been part of such an inspiring gathering.

Nadine Black, Marketing Manager, Carrick Winery
Ellen delivered her topic of ‘belonging, autonomy, and purpose’ in a relaxed and authentic way that resonated for our team; many of whom are working mums / parents themselves. The response from our team has been positive with many left feeling inspired about what is possible for them in their day-to-day roles as leaders of teams seeking belonging, autonomy, and purpose in their own roles.
Glenn Croasdale, Chief Client Officer, FMG

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to listen to Dr Ellen speak about #BelongingAutonomyPurpose recently. Her passion and zest for life captured every farmer in that room. They were a tough bunch to inspire, but my word, you did just that. You woke us all with your painstaking determination to get the job done and get it done right, there were no shortcuts to be had. Dr Ellen brought out honesty, vulnerability and realism in everyone. It opened the gateway for more exposed, conscientious talks amongst our peers. It said to each person, ‘you are not alone’. Thank you, Dr Ellen, especially for answering the questions so honestly. That took sheer guts to do, but I’m ever so grateful you did. Because you did, everyone else felt encouraged to do so as well. We all felt we belonged. You’re a true blessing. You have woken our senses.  Keep being amazing!

Rochelle Cleary, Agri & Business Account Manager, Southland, Central Otago & Otago, Meridian Energy Limited

Hi Ellen. Your talk was fantastic. It was extremely valuable for all the employers / managers attending to hear about the need to make working life easier for parents and carers. And it was validating for the employees there to know their managers were hearing those messages. You were mentioned by other speakers during the day also, such as Sue Pickering. My boys are all grown up now, but I remember the challenges of going back to work while still breast feeding and then, later, the difficulties of managing school holidays. It was a nightmare. You’re doing a brilliant job of helping to get working life easier for future new parents / carers. Thank you!

Kirsty Fyfe | Communications Manager | New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated

Thank you for being part of our LandPro and Dairy Women’s Network 2023 Brighter.Braver.Bolder Conference. We really appreciated you speaking to our conference attendees. Your talk received a rating of 8.8 out of 10. Here are some comments from delegates regarding what they enjoyed, and took away, from your talk:

  • Ellen highlighted to be yourself, be authentic in whatever you do – this is belonging
  • Ellen talked about belonging. Be your whole self – you don’t need to fit into people’s boxes 
  • All three speakers had very inspirational stories 
  • #workschoolhours
  • So much positivity – be yourself and take opportunities – it’s ok to be different
  • Gives perspective, hearing other people’s stories makes you feel less alone and super connected 
  • Inspirational, don’t give up 
  • Ellen is an excellent speaker – there are amazing women out there 
  • Inspiring, proud, encouraging 
  • Outstanding 
  • Ellen Nelson’s message: ‘Best part of you is YOU” 
  • Positive energetic speakers: they speakers embraced the conference theme of Brighter Braver Bolder 
  • Ellen spoke about changes in the military, working school hours. Enjoyed her language & delivery & energy. Bringing full authentic self to work. Belonging, autonomy, purpose 
  • I loved Ellen’s belonging vs fitting in
Zellara Holden, Dairy Women’s Network
Ellen, it was such a privilege to have you with us and the pitch and content of the workshop was spot on. I’ve had such positive feedback from the team and one of the key outcomes was the opportunity for staff to really be their authentic self and open up in the group. Your way of engaging with people and making them feel safe to express themselves and build them up was awesome! If I think of our team member regarding the ‘mothering’ comments she’s been subjected to – hopefully now she can see this as her ‘superpower’ and be proud of who she is and the positive impact she makes. I realise how important it is to pause and take time to reflect and appreciate what we all bring to the table. That it is the richness of who we are as individuals without the mask that make us better together, rather than who we think we need to be in any given role. It did certainly fill our cups and I hope to come back to you when I’m in a position to think about what else we could do together.
Jane Wilson, Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer, Te Whatu Ora
Thoroughly enjoyed Ellen’s presentation on workplace flexibility and how that can aid in employee wellness and retention. Her vibrant and engaging talk resonated with the key tenet ‘When you feel you belong you do your best work’. We will be working to instil that sense of belonging by showing our staff they are valued as their unique selves, and that their contributions matter.
Cherie Mirko, Practice Manager, Woodward Chrisp Law
  • “Ellen was engaging, energetic and real. Her stories and insight into leadership were powerful and relevant for women, and gave perspective and self reflection on how being YOU and bringing your whole self to work is actually awesome.”
  • “Ellen was a fantastic facilitator who really listened to everyone in the room and responded with insight, compassion and expertise.”
  • “Ellen was very relatable, great content, engaged with participant and enabled participants to engage with each other. Created a safe space.”
  • “Ellen was a very engaging facilitator, the topic was very relevant and she brought humour and a sense of realness to the group.”
  • “Full of energy but also very genuine in the delivery. It did not feel [negatively] ‘warm and fuzzy’ which is sometimes the risk with these workshops. Suitably uncomfortable to get us thinking about our why and what stands in the way!”
  • “Ellen was a fantastic facilitator who really listened to everyone in the room and responded with insight, compassion and expertise.”
Feedback from my ‘Authentic Leadership – the best version of you is you’ workshop, organised by Aventedge for the Women in Leadership Conference,
NPS for this workshop was 73
I very much enjoyed listening to Ellen at the NZ Law Ltd Practice Managers conference in Wellington. Practice managers all have teams we look after, and Ellen was very inspirational when speaking of her time leading different groups and the challenges she met and overcame. She is very down to earth and relatable. If you are lucky enough to attend a talk by Ellen, it is well worth your time.
Jan Johnson, Practice Manager, Argyle Welsh Finnigan Limited

If you have the opportunity to hear Ellen speak, take it! She is a dynamic and engaging speaker who presents in a truly authentic way.

Carolyn Martin, Primary Care Relationship Manager, WellSouth Primary Health Network

Ellen, I just wanted to say how much I appreciated your workshop yesterday. I loved the humour and thought provoking conversations. I had a headache when I left! I have just reflected back on all the information I scribbled and also went over the Q’s again as I wanted to maximise the benefit. Thank you so much. I am about to move into a new role and will be talking about the benefit of having you come and talk to our health leaders

Sharron Feist, Clinical Services Manager, Wellsouth Primary Health Network

We were lucky enough to have Ellen present to a group of our people leaders here at WellSouth. Working with Ellen was wonderful. She was flexible and able to meet our needs in the lead up to our meeting, and then during the presentation Ellen was so engaging, unique and inspiring which is sometimes tricky to do online. Our people leaders loved hearing about how Ellen leans into her authentic self, making her a better leader, in turn inspiring them to bring their full authentic selves to work. Thank you Ellen! It was so great to have you present and I know that everyone who attended got heaps out of it.

Lizzie Kennedy Training & Workforce Development Coordinator Kaituitui Whakakuku Kaimahi, WellSouth

Ellen recently co-presented, with Chris Parsons, to the Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence (FFCoVE) Research and insights Forum, an update on the FFCoVE sponsored, Food and Fibre Leadership System Research Project that is being undertaken by Rural leaders. There is no doubting Ellen’s passion for and understanding of the subject of leadership in a 21st century context. This coupled with her enthusiastic style made for a well-received presentation. Proof of this came with the level of Q and A engagement following the presentation, with audience members seeking to extend the dialogue that had come from the stage. Ellen is well informed, experienced and genuine and I can honestly recommend her to anyone looking for a quality researcher or speaker.

Paul Hollings, General Manager, Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence

The Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence (FFCoVE) engaged Rural Leaders (Chris Parsons and co-researcher, Ellen Joan Nelson) to lead a project on developing a bespoke Food & Fibre Leadership System. Chris and Ellen’s ability to interpret discussions and engage interviewees made it possible to glean the best information from participants to inform a very important report for Food and Fibre Leadership in New Zealand. Their enthusiasm and energy make it so easy to work with them and their depth of insight brings quality to this very important project. They have interpreted the brief of this project so well and we are looking forward to the next stage of this project with excitement!

Lilla du Toit, Portfolio Manager, Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence

D. Ellen Nelson was a fantastic guest on our podcast series highlighting extraordinary and inspirational New Zealanders. She had strong presence in studio as she spoke honestly from both the mind and heart. She effortlessly provided exceptional wisdom, perfectly aligning with the kaupapa of our series.

Ellen’s extensive research and experience in the fields of social well-being and leadership radiated throughout the kōrero. What truly set her apart was her ability to convey her deep understanding in a manner that was easily digestible and relatable to our audience. Her expertise was evident, but she managed to make complex concepts accessible.

As a host with over two decades of interviewing experience, I have had the privilege of speaking with a great number of guests, but Ellen’s engagement and candour were outstanding. As we talked, I was personally moved by her willingness to share her own story, especially when discussing the challenges of the motherhood penalty. Her practical recommendations for addressing this detrimental phenomenon resonated deeply with me and I have no doubt will do the same with our listeners. Ellen’s command over her subject matter, combined with her exceptional speaking skills, make her an invaluable asset for any speaking engagement or public appearance. Her knowledge, passion, and ability to connect with an audience are truly remarkable. I wholeheartedly endorse Ellen as a speaker and believe she has the power to make a significant impact on any projects she is a part of.

Jane Yee, head of podcasts, The Spinoff
Thanks again for being our keynote Ellen! You were the hit of the day. So many people commented on how uplifted and positive they found your talk. I couldn’t have been happier to be on the money about how well you’d land! I’m sure you’re going to get lots of our members getting in touch and I’m keen to do a follow up communication to our wider membership which will push out your messages further. I know I said most of that last night, but I wanted to put it in writing as well – you’re a star!
Raewyn Bleakley, Chief Executive, New Zealand Food & Grocery Council
Ellen, I struggle to articulate just how much of a difference you’ve made, but just know we are eternally grateful that we made the changes we did, and that you played a major role in them. Ellen’s presentation style is authentic, approachable, and honest. She comes across as positive and hopeful yet still acknowledges the inherent challenges we are up against. She is someone who cares deeply and is on a mission to do something about it. On a personal level, Ellen’s work has made a huge difference to our family. As a new mum living rurally without family support, yet still determined to return to work, I understood there would be sacrifices. However, it became hard to distinguish the sacrifices that were negatively affecting our family from those that are inherently ‘business as usual’ for mothers in the workplace. Ellen’s advocacy helped me to see there is a better way and that work should evolve with us as humans, acknowledging the aspects of our real lives that can change over time. To see someone be so honest about the challenges of working motherhood while modelling positive behaviours empowered me to make the necessary changes for our family to thrive. We are so grateful for the difference this has made to us.
Anna Benny, Contractor, Navigate – Dairy is changing
I have had the privilege to hear and see Ellen speak at two separate events recently, the Rural Leaders Agribusiness Summit in Christchurch and the Dairy Women’s Network Conference in Invercargill. Both times I have found her presentations to be very refreshing and extremely informative. Ellen is a genuine storyteller and with her down to earth and grassroots approach, she captures her audience right from the very beginning. Her leadership values and qualities shine through, and she makes it sound so simple about getting the best out of your team. Ellen would make either a great keynote speaker or a workshop presenter on the topic of “Getting the best from your Team”. Her energy keeps you glued along with her fabulous and relevant life story yarns.
Katrina Thomas, Southland Dairy Farm Owner, SIDE – South Island Dairy Event Sponsorship & Exhibitor Coordinator
In March I attended the 2023 Rural Leaders Agribusiness Summit in Christchurch. This Summit brought together a range of leaders from all parts of New Zealand’s Primary Sector, food and fibre producers, rural professionals, industry group representatives and politicians. Ellen was one of the last speakers in a jam packed one day session. It can be a tough gig engaging an audience at the end of a long day like this when social hour is looming. Ellen opened her presentation with energy and drew us into a topic that resonated so much with many of us around the challenges we are facing right now. For me as a rural mum juggling the farm with a few leadership hats, there were lots of ‘uh ha’ moments around maintaining a sense of belonging personally and enabling this in others around me. Ellen tackles important conversations around future focus, and social equity in an authentic way that engages her audience using her amazing research and personal experiences. I would love to hear her again; we are lucky to have her in New Zealand!
Emma Crutchley, Farmer – Puketoi Farming Company | Kellogg Rural Leader | Arable chair of Federated Farmers Otago and Irrigation New Zealand director

It is my job at Feilding Makino Probus Club to engage speakers for our monthly meeting. It is often a difficult task in pleasing our 200 members. However, with Dr Ellen Joan Nelson speaking at our April meeting, everyone indeed was spellbound with her half hour address. What an outstanding woman!… In my time in Probus, I have never seen any speaker given a standing ovation as Ellen did. I have since received rave reports from many members. I have no hesitation in recommending Ellen as a highly motivated, inspirational speaker.

Patrick Henaghan, Speaker Coordinator, Feilding Makino Probus Club

Overall your session was thought provoking, courageous, current and inspiring.

Thought provoking – how to operate under pressure and show up as your true self, as you certainly have over your last few challenges and also at our conference. We have many challenges in life and business but I got confidence in your model because it was based on your learnings (trial and error)  under pressure and makes it very believable. You gave me a different way to view and handle those challenges and I will adopt them in the future.

Courageous – whilst telling your story, never once did I feel you weren’t able to achieve your goals because the courage and determination you displayed to back yourself.

Current – In my business today leadership, recruitment and retention and motivating people of all different age groups and nationalities is what we need to lean into to drive productivity and keep costs down. You made me realise our situation is shared world wide and you gave us some valuable techniques.

Inspiring – your delivery was engaging, honest and energetic and you shouldn’t change a thing.

It was really nice to meet you and thank you again for joining us on our conference and for nailing the brief.

Jason McLean | General Manager NSW/ACT Metcash Food

I recently had the great pleasure of introducing Dr Ellen Joan Nelson as a keynote speaker at the BCITO Summit Skills Conference in Auckland, November 2022. Her brief was to speak on diversifying the work force and making use of the great pool of talent that have family commitments. Ellen absolutely nailed it, and specifically from her ability to relate her own impressive and fascinating experiences into a Kaupapa the entire audience could engage with. What I personally loved about Ellen’s keynote speech was that it wasn’t just based on wonderful anecdotes and storytelling, she had the research and knowledge to back it up. It was a powerful and compelling combination. With a personal interest in the resettlement on Afghan refugees into Aotearoa I couldn’t have been more thrilled to have heard her personal efforts in evacuating hundreds of NZDF allies from Afghanistan after the country’s fall to the Taliban in 2021. The courage and determination to do so only enriched her ability as a keynote speaker. I would highly recommend her for any future conference or speaking event. View Letter

Mike McRoberts, Journalist (Newshub), Presenter and MC

I was fortunate enough to hear Ellen speak at a recent Women and Business event in Palmerston North. I had heard so many amazing things about Ellen so knew it would be good however it exceeded my expectations and more. Ellen is so passionate about what she does, and it is so empowering to listen to. As a businesswoman and Mum of 2 young children it excites me to have someone like Ellen in our corner promoting the benefits of #WorkSchoolHours and it also inspires me to continue practising this in my own business. Ellen should be at the top of the speaker list for any team event, the value added is invaluable

Jen Taylor – Founder and Director Taylored Mortgages

I have heard Dr Ellen Joan Nelson speak twice now at Women’s events and I could honestly listen to her 100 times over. The first time was at the most relevant time for me – I felt like I wasn’t able to give my all to my work, my kids or anything in my life. I had a bit of imposter syndrome. I just about cried because everything she spoke about resonated with me and she made me realise I’m human and just trying to do ALL ‘the things’. I left the event feeling human again and knew I was doing ok.

Ellen is a raw, honest speaker with content that is so very relevant to everyone. #workschoolhours is clearly well researched and she makes it known how this initiative is beneficial to everyone, not just parents. She engages the audience and her life experiences & achievements have everyone in awe.

Kristy Gardner, Commercial Partner, BNZ

We at FarmRight had Ellen do two half day leadership sessions focused on: bringing your authentic self to work, how to think about productivity not hours, and how can the job fit individuals’ life/hours. The two groups left inspired by Ellen’s story and what she has achieved in her career. Feedback showed all participants said it was well worth taking half a day out of their busy schedules. The main takeaways from the Farm Managers and other management staff were:
How they would start measuring output/productivity.
How to make the most of their, and others, natural strengths rather than hiding them.
Spend more time reflecting on their leadership positions and how to get more value out of the relationships already existing.

Some of the comments from the farm managers and other management staff participants included:

  • These sessions are important to encourage awareness and self-refection.
  • I thought Ellen was great! She has a pretty inspiring story and was really engaging.
  • She really made me realise that it is ok to have weaknesses and that sometimes our greatest strengths come from these. I will now stop feeling bad about not knowing all the answers right now and will instead aim to generate good discussion around coming up with an outcome.
  • Very inspiring on what can be achieved when we heard her story. I found it very encouraging that what she believed in was the same journey that we have already begun: encourage our staff to be more efficient in their jobs to create more time at home and the feel of working less.
  • I will now think about working to my strengths and have I got the three drivers right – purpose, autonomy and belonging to get the best out of our guys.  Re-thing around productivity.
  • I thought the value of this session was good, Ellen engaged the group, and everyone contributed. Ellen is good at challenging the status quo. I will now work on achieving better work life balance, being more effective in leadership to grow more leaders underneath me. I am also now thinking of alternative ways to measuring efficiency rather than hours worked
  • I thought this session was valuable to get the team thinking about how they operate themselves and it is important to understand what that actually means. I think we miss this part with our people and naturally we default to a process/system to get things done (as we are predominantly people that operate that way) and possibly we miss the parts that engage those that aren’t system or process driven. I now want to try to find a way to better coach people to understand their self and how to use that to their advantage and how we create complete/balance approach of goals, purpose and fit. Learning how to operate to our potential in our roles once we recognise who we are. We can solve lots of problems (improve productivity) when we have good communication, engaged people who understand what they need to do.

Tony Cleland, Farm Investment Manager, Farmright

  • FarmRight Ltd Southland engaged Ellen to work with Farm Managers and the Corporate Team to help further develop thinking and techniques to build teams and create work environments that give all employees a real sense of belonging and value to the businesses they are working in. Ellen’s ability to interpret discussions and apply suggestions to build on team culture has been evident in our teams. In two relatively short workshops and coaching sessions we have seen how Farm & Business Leaders can and have made a productive change by focusing on these and other aspects of engaging our people.
  • Her inspiring story and engaging delivery had our team in awe.

Rhondda McMullen, FIM Support, Farmright

“Ellen was deliberate, clear and convincing with her communications and, as a result, has significantly influenced how Army is now approaching a range of diversity and inclusion challenges, particularly those that relate to gender inclusiveness… To Ellen’s immense credit she has positively contributed to a number of organizational level working groups… Ellen’s contributions to the change, both short & long term, currently being sort by Army in these areas has been both invaluable and greatly appreciated.”
Major General John Boswell, DSD, Chief of NZ Army.
“Ellen was a fantastic speaker at a recent KPMG Inclusion and Diversity event. She spoke with passion, enthusiasm and authenticity on the topic of wellbeing, inclusion and belonging in a way which leveraged her PhD analysis to inform practical solutions that could change how we all work more effectively and efficiently into the future. The session was thought-provoking, stimulated significant discussion amongst attendees and was delivered with good humour.”
Peter Chew, Director, KPMG

“Ellen speaks with humour, warmth and inspiration. Her talk to our MBA graduates was just perfect for the occasion, leaving the graduates and their families with nuggets of wisdom and the feeling of being thoroughly entertained and inspired.” 

Professor Ted Zorn, Head of Massey Executive Development, Massey University
“Ellen presented as an MBA alumni and PhD fellow multiple times to my MBA cohort. She speaks with candour and clarity backed by her research and concrete experience about the opportunities that lay ahead for us all. How Ellen engaged with our group but also her accessibility to individuals personally gave me a great deal of confidence in my own academic journey and perhaps the impression I could leave on my own surroundings.”
Inspector Sam Keats, National Workforce Improvement Manager, NZ Police.

 “Ellen captured the audience with her humour, storytelling and inspirational insights. A room full of Executive MBA graduates hung on her every word as she took them on a journey that they will remember for a long time.”

Mandy Welch, Executive Development, Massey University

“I invited Dr Ellen Nelson to present at EY’s Wellington Monthly Consulting session. Ellen’s passion combined with the research she has completed made for an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable session. During the session Ellen captivated the team by using real world examples which connected to her research about the changing nature of leadership. Ellen’s presentation style exemplified the traits she was explaining with regards to being authentic and how when combined with leadership this delivers a more positive outcome. The team were kept rapt as she challenged them to think differently about the future of work, and how the 9-5 construct has shifted and organisations now need to not just have flexible work policies, but to build their systems and processes around this new worker. For Ellen, another pillar of the way we need to change is to stop thinking about just outputs but the people that are delivering them, ensuring their wellbeing is supported and that they form teams that are diverse and provide the psychological safety for all members to excel. Ellen’s presentation really resonated with our team with much of what she was sharing further supporting the shifts we have made to better accommodate for our multi-disciplined and diverse teams. Ellen is an excellent speaker, and it was a real pleasure to have her come speak with our team”

Eric Chapman, Director, EY

“Ellen, so many thanks for your energising and highly informative talk on the construct of work with the NZTE Women in Leadership Forum. When I invited you to speak, I knew you would bring your knowledge, experience and passion to seed this really important conversation. The more than 60 women who attended were obviously engaged and curious by the number of questions raised and conversations started. And so good to hear that several followed up with you here on LinkedIn with further questions. I imagine there will be many more opportunities ahead for you to progress this conversation with businesses and generate action.”

Jenny Cornwall

“The time flew by listening to Ellen speak about women in the workplace, and I found myself disappointed that the evening was ending! As a speaker she was humorous and energetic, very easy to listen to, and thorough in her presentation. Ellen’s talk gave me ideas and insights, and it left me feeling inspired and hopeful! Thank you for the research you have done, and continue to do, and for presenting it to us so brilliantly.”

Anne Cullen, Supporting parents so children grow up feeling safe, secure & understood

“I had the privilege of hearing Dr Ellen Nelson speak at an International Women’s Day event in Taranaki. She was able to weave together a wealth of experience, compelling stories, and her grounded theory research to get us to think about how some of our work practices are not working. She is passionate about this area and after listening to her you can’t help but see the logic, and understand the benefits of a more inclusive work environment.”

Craig Thorne, Director, Culture Culture

“I engaged Ellen as our guest speaker at our International Women’s Day event and was not disappointed! Her presence was very well received, and her knowledge and insights on women in the workplace was captivating. She sparked some great conversations around better ways we can support women and parents in our organization and I am excited to see what this brings in future.”

Captain Ashleigh Bush. NZ Army

“An engaging speaker who prepared well, therefore, was highly relatable to the audience, Dr Nelson held the room completely and led the conference in her open and honest manner through numerous and related subjects. Of particular note, although the conference was for International Women’s Day, Dr Nelson worked hard to expand her themes so that everyone could see the benefit of her assertions for all individuals. Specifically, that improving the environment for our women team members would correlate to improved productivity and satisfaction for the whole team… Dr Nelson is a passionate and knowledgeable presenter who has embraced the challenges facing the target audience, applied her professional experience and academic acumen to offer constructive solutions for leaders and team members alike. The insights she gave were meaningful and impactful and I know that within my sphere of influence, will generate tangible improvements for all personnel.”

Lieutenant Colonel Cory Neale, Commanding Officer 2nd/1st Battalion, NZ Army

“Ellen was our speaker at Venture Taranaki’s International Women’s Day event 2022. The talk covered everything from personal stories to practical tips for how employers can attach and retain great female talent. Ellen was a relatable and engaging speaker to whom the audience responded well. If you want to open up a conversation on making the workplace great for everyone, Ellen is the woman to help you.”

Rachael Berndt. Talent Advisor, Venture Taranaki.

“Every organisation should hear Ellen speak. She is so passionate about #workshoolhours and is able to articulate how organisations can solve some of their biggest (people) issues right now and carve out a major competitive advantage in the war for talent. As a parent it was reassuring to hear that so many other parents shared some of my experiences balancing work and family as I do. As an HR practitioner, this talk offered a fresh perspective on many of the issues we are facing right now, backed up by research and evidence that we can take back to our organisations to help solve our current challenges, improve our employee experience and shape the future of work.”

Toni Grimshaw, HRNZ Branch President: Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington

“Thank you, Ellen, for being the guest speaker at our Taking Charge – Leadership for Women’s conference. We enjoyed hearing your story and the journey you have been on. You engaged the audience with details of your research, and ongoing work in your areas of passion and expertise. Your enthusiasm and energy was infectious and you really added to what was a great day! ”

Liane Anderson, Membership / Events Manager, Manawatū Business Chamber

“Manawatū Business Chamber recently hosted the inaugural Westpac Smarts event. We had the pleasure of working with Ellen as the guest speaker for this event. Ellen provided a powerful presentation entitled ‘Future of Work / Disruption’, which resonated with all our attendees. She provided a compelling speech which provided many points of consideration for all. The Q & A was great, well received and Ellen was able to engage well with the audience which were both in person and through a live stream.
We will be shortly hosting a Leadership for Women Conference where Ellen will be the key speaker.
Thank you, Ellen, for your passion and willingness to engage with the team and the audience. ”

Liane Anderson, Membership / Events Manager, Manawatū Business Chamber

Ellen spoke at our Managing Burnout and Fatigue in the Workplace Conference in Auckland. Managing burnout and supporting wellbeing is clearly a topic Ellen is passionate about as she ensured the day was as insightful as possible for our delegates and provided valuable, practical take-aways. We had great feedback from speakers, delegates and all the team onsite. It was a pleasure to work with Ellen and would be delighted to work together in the future.

Catherine McCarthy, Director of Training – Australia, New Zealand & Asia

We were privileged to co-host the Agmardt/Rural Leaders Brunch event as part of the Young Farmer of the Year awards. During this event we heard skilled presenters on the theme of Leadership in changing times. Ellen Nelson is an articulate and natural presenter – She was in her element taking the room with her during her presentation. Thanks Ellen, you were truly fabulous, and we enjoyed listening to your concepts and ideas around the changing norms of the working day.

Lisa Rogers, Programmes Manager
People was Ellen’s key focus on leadership. Her experience and training in leadership enabled her to provide some messages that really resonated with the group. ‘Create a culture where people can thrive and then direct their focus, with this comes a sense of belonging, that they are valued, you can build trusted teams and enable them to excel.’ Ellen engaged very effectively with her audience with a relaxed, informative presentation style which engendered excellent questions and feedback from the predominantly under 35 year olds developing leadership skills in the agri-food industry.
Nick Pyke, Chair AGMARDT
Ellen was an impressive guest speaker – a real inspiration. She totally engaged her audience on the topics of promoting women in the workforce (including that of the NZ Army) and her experience of helping evacuate civilians from Afghanistan. Ellen is an effective communicator with a lovely clear voice and evident enthusiasm, all of which kept her listeners spellbound and wanting to hear more.
Roz O’Leary, Manawatu Women’s County Club
Ellen presented #workschoolhours webinar to the Otago branch of HR Institute of NZ in August 2022, and it was one of the liveliest sessions we had in a long time. She is an incredibly engaging speaker able to clearly articulate her ideas. Her research is novel, exciting and practical – our audience was excited about commercial application of the concepts Ellen shared. I would wholeheartedly recommend engaging Ellen as a speaker and consultant.
Elena Calvert, Recruitment Manager, University of Otago
I heard Ellen at the Women in leadership pre-conference where she facilitated and ran a workshop on the topic of “Authentic Leadership: The best version of you, is you!”. Ellen’s delivery, style, and approach certainly was keeping in tone with the topic. Her witty, honest, and passionate facilitation of interactive table sessions, complimented by sharing her own personal experiences was both brave and inspirational. The best part, the content was underpinned by research which brings credibility to her many areas of expertise.
Sam McDonnell, Head of SAS Change Enablement, FMG

From the very start Dr Ellen captivated us with her evidence and storytelling. A knowledgeable and passionate presenter she is engaging and relatable. A thoroughly enjoyable workshop with lots of opportunities to discuss and contribute. Her passion for her subject matter is contagious and compelling.

Rachel Wilson, Senior Communications Manager, Wellington Free Ambulance.

I attended Ellen’s workshop “Authentic Leadership: The best version of you, is you!” and it was amazing! It enhanced the beauty of how each of us are different, that there is no “right way” to be a leader and the true value of being truly authentic. The content was insightful, well structured, relatable and informative. Ellen’s communication style was vibrant, positive, extremely engaging and down to earth. I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone who is wanting to learn a little bit more about themselves and what they bring to the table… by just being themselves!

Abby Perry, Clinical Paramedic Advisor, Wellington Free Ambulance.

I was lucky enough to hear Ellen speak at a local business gathering. Speaking on a few different topics she was passionate and engaging and provided many thought provoking ideas around the work life balance for both employees and employers. Something which resonated well with me having a young family and trying to be present in their lives while trying to succeed in business.
David Hallett Owner Sttellah Construction
Thank you to Ellen for speaking at the Madison PACE Professional Development Forum 2022. Ellen presented to an audience of the most senior Executive Assistants in Wellington and her knowledge of her topic, energy and enthusiasm kept us all engaged. For many of our delegates, particularly those with children of school age, it was extremely relevant and pertinent. Thanks again Ellen – definitely food for thought!
Antoinette Wilcox & Ciaran Hyslop, PACE Co-Chairs

Ellen ran a leadership workshop for us and I am happy to say that the respondents to the feedback survey (half of the participants completed the survey) all scored their entire experience with the workshop, and also Ellen’s presentation skills, as ‘Very Satisfied’, giving the workshop a customer satisfaction score of 100%!! A few of the comments from the participants: “I enjoyed how Ellen related the conversation to the participants” | “Loved it” | “Great overall” | “Ellen was fantastic” | “I loved this session as you felt safe to open up and there was a great depth of experiences and styles to learn from” | “Ellen has given me so much confidence”

As the event organisor, I wanted to share that Ellen was organised, great at communicating and was able to effectively adapt the content of her workshop to best cater the needs of our attendees, to ensure a personalised workshop experience! Ellen was overall an amazing facilitator and I look forward to working with her again in the future. Ellen is a pleasure to work with, has great ideas for workshops, and is able to draw on her experience in both defence and business to deliver valuable and inspiring training to our audiences.”

Paul Mumme (Leadership Portfolio Director) and Mallary Wu (Product Delivery Manager), The Hatchery

Ellen ran the pre-workshop to the Auckland Women in Leadership forum, focused on Authentic Leadership. Thank you Ellen so much for your involvement in the event! We were glad to have you on board for this year’s Women in Leadership Summit. On behalf of the team here at the Women Leaders Institute and Aventedge, a big thank you for taking the time to speak at the Women in Leadership New Zealand in Summit. The team is sure that attendees took away some key insights from each session. It was a pleasure working with you leading up to this event and we hope your experience was similar. We hope to host you at another one of our events in future. Some of the feedback from the delegates:

  • I liked how interactive it was, and how Ellen created a space that felt safe for people to be open and share their experiences
  • This workshop rocked! Ellen did an awesome job creating a safe environment where stories were shared, and women were empowered to be themselves and to bring their best self forward every day! Thanks Ellen 🙂
  • Ellen Joan Nelson is fantastic.  Well researched and well prepared. 
  • Ellen did an amazing job at facilitating, engaging the room and providing great stories and content to get your brain going!
  • Really resonated with me. I like to believe I am authentic, but it’s taken me years in leadership to get here. I think Ellen was easy to listen to, inspirational and provoked thoughts and learning
  • Ellen was so engaging and real.
  • The first day session run by Ellen Nelson was very informative.  Ellen was vivacious, relatable and approachable.  Ellen was available during breaks to answer questions
  • The facilitation was great. Ellen got everyone involved in the discussion even when it was sometimes confronting.
  • Ellen was engaging and generated thoughtful discussion
  • Ellen is able to deliver this really important message in a way that you feel is possible to achieve. Its not hard but it is scary. She makes you feel comfortable in your own skin and inspires you to be you  
  • Really great, experienced leader. And I particularly hearing about Ellen’s time in service, repatriation work of Afghans, and research. Ellen could be less apologetic about sharing these experiences.
  • The presenter was great! Ellen did a great job with the big group. There was a lot of trust and respect built and I felt free to share my story.
  • Ellen Joan Nelson is really inspirational.  She comes from a place of deep experience and research and presents in a really accessible manner.   She set the bar very high for the rest of the event. 
  • Loved Ellen’s energy

Elizabeth Lie, Divisional Manager & Leigh Anne Payne, Project Manager & Angel Mortimer, Event Manager: Aventedge

Elizabeth Lie, Divisional Manager & Leigh Anne Payne, Project Manager & Angel Mortimer, Event Manager: Aventedge

Ellen was the keynote speaker at a Workforce Hui we ran for Rotorua tourism, accommodation and hospitality businesses – and she was the perfect choice! We’ve received so much positive feedback from the people who attended, both on the content that Ellen shared and the engaging style of her delivery. I was initially unsure how relevant Ellen’s #workschoolhours movement would be to a sector so reliant on shift work. However, her stories and tips brought the idea to life for the audience and inspired lots of ongoing discussion about how all businesses – even those in tourism – can be more flexible to meet the needs of their staff.

Jo Holmes, Head of Insights & Marketing, RotoruaNZ

I’d spotted an article online about Ellen’s work and immediately I was inspired. As a late starter working parent with a career, balancing work life with home life has been quite an adjustment. Owning and operating our own tourism business throughout Covid, adaptive leadership, keeping our team together meant working hard, differently and collaboratively. I wanted a keynote speaker from a different industry that would be able to showcase all of these qualities, no matter where you work. This was an important part of being able to set up the rest of the forum that focussed on workforce retention and opportunities. Hearing from Ellen about her work with the NZ Army and bringing Afghanistan families to NZ, was both inspirational and aspirational. Following Ellen’s down to earth approach and engaging presentation – it’s sparked conversations about rethinking workforce behaviours, retention and what else businesses might do to move their own practises into the future.

Melissa Craig, Destination Manager, RotoruaNZ

Dynamic workshop with an engaging speaker that really unpacked concepts regarding authenticity and leadership. Loved the challenges raised and plenty of inspiration to take away.
Naomi (Williams) McIntosh, Chapter Lead for Design GM & Home, The Warehouse Group

I had the privilege of listening to Ellen speak at a forum held for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Rotorua. She shared her PhD research findings in an engaging way, keeping them relevant to our industry, especially in our challenging labour market where staff retention is key for team leaders. She threw out a few challenges of her own, backing up statements with authentic real-world findings.

Ellen encapsulated her own experiences of “getting stuff done” in the toughest political environment, riddled with bureaucratic obstacles and yet managing all this within a remote team. It was a heartfelt share, and particularly moving for her and the audience who I could see were as engaged and overwhelmed with the enormity of the task (evacuating 563 refugees out of Afghanistan), as I was.

Full disclosure here, Ellen is my niece through marriage. This session only served to add to my pride in her achievements as an ex-army Captain, mum, wife, academic, business leader and all-round tough gal!

Vicki Jessop, Sales and Marketing Manager, Polynesian Spa

I was fortunate enough to participate in Ellen’s workshop at the Women in Leadership Summit in Auckland this year. Ellen’s candid, honest and vulnerable approach to presenting the workshop on Authentic Leadership was inspiring and Ellen created an environment where what was a large group scale workshop, felt like a small, intimate conversation and a safe space for reflection. Would highly recommend attendance if you have the opportunity!

Sandra Hutchison, Senior People & Culture Advisor, Loyalty NZ

I was fortunate enough recently to spend a day in a workshop with Ellen. Her enthusiasm for why it’s important to be authentically yourself in your leadership journey was infectious. The way that she shaped up a day, that at times was challenging mindsets, was excellent. I’m certain that everyone walked away with an action to take back to the everyday.

Jane Fowles, People and Culture Officer, Dairy Holdings Limited

Dr Ellen Joan Nelson was a guest on our EMA online series about The Dynamic Workplace. Ellen helped us to understand how #workschoolhours and other alternative working patterns, such as the 4-day work week, could have benefits for employees and employers. Ellen brought energy, humour and wider insights to our discussion about how businesses could achieve better business results through progressive people strategies.

What stood out to me was Ellen’s view of leadership in businesses. Ellen presented clear easily understood ideas and practical recommendations that were backed up with research and personal experience. Her experiences in this area are unique and impressive, but her views apply to everyone in a leadership role. I’m looking forward to continuing to learn from, and discuss with, Ellen how New Zealand businesses can grow their people to grow their business.

John Bradbury, People Experience Practice, EMA (Employers & Manufacturers Association)

I would like to sincerely thank you for your exceptional contribution to this years’ Women in Defence and Defence Industry Summit . We’ve had some fantastic feedback from attendees, and wanted to pass along some of the comments from your session which scored an amazing 4.6 out of 5 stars!

  • Great pacing and positivity!
  • Amazing! We all need to hear this talk.
  • I got many tools and ideas to take away and think about.

I would also like to say a personal thank you to you! You have been a joy to work with. Your communication, efficiency and quality of work has been so much more than I could have asked for so thank you again! I look forward to working with you again very soon and seeing many more of your presentations. 

Emma Black, Conference Producer, Liquid Learning
Ellen’s research on authentic leadership is literature that I have been looking for to support my own views on contemporary leadership in a military context. Ellen proved that putting good leaders into a box of being regimental, wearing a veneer of respectability and being at arm’s length from their followers does not drive performance. This has unlocked a freedom that I did not know existed. A freedom to be myself knowing that I can still be a leader and be successful without ridicule and judgement.
Allison Murphy, Contract Advisor, Jet Aviation Defence
Ellen is a really intuitive facilitator. Her life experiences are fascinating to hear about, and her ability to gently guide participants through a journey is, in my experience, unrivalled. Ellen has many insights to share, but allows space for participants to step in and share and learn from each other. I would enthusiastically attend other workshops that Ellen was involved with.
Jo Bonner, Senior Military Officer, Royal Australian Airforce

An upbeat, energetic and thought provoking session at our monthly Business After 5 network this evening, led by Dr Ellen Joan Nelson on the future of work.

Ellen challenged us to think about the way we structure our work days and the way in which it enables #workingparents to sustainably engage and thrive in work. Like many organisations, staff attraction and retention remains a challenge for many organisations. Tonight I was reminded yet again, about the importance of enabling a work environment that is #inclusive #flexible, celebrates #diversity and encourages authenticity through a connection to our emotions.

Thanks Dr Ellen Joan Nelson – inspiring and uplifting messages that will no doubt make a difference in the way we work and the way we think about work.

Monique Davidson, CEO, Horowhenua District Council

Ellen presented an engaging, thought provoking session. It was relatable and really encouraging of looking at the workplace through a different lens to achieve optimum outcomes for both team members and business owners. If you are wanting to encourage change thinking, then I encourage you to book Ellen as your next keynote speaker.

Angela Transom, Where it’s AT Sales & Marketing.

Dr Ellen Joan Nelson spoke at an event I organised called EnVision Unstoppable. Dr Nelson is an inspirational and powerful speaker who is passionate about the cause of working school hours and empowering people to succeed. I would recommend her to anyone who wants to be inspired to regain power over their work hours and life.

Anna Maria Lang, Founder & CEO, EnVision Life Solutions & Global Empowering Women Organisation (GEWO)

Ellen is a dynamic and impactful speaker. Her messages and delivery are clear and compelling, and she makes a strong case for re-imagining how we structure work. A though provoking and challenging session which was thoroughly enjoyed by many of the people from the business community of Horowhenua. I recommend Ellen if you want to think differently about how to increase productivity in the workplace.

Catriona McKay, Chief Executive | Tumu Whakarae, The Horowhenua Company

I had the honour of watching Ellen present at the Manawatū Women and Business Function, October 2022. Wow! What an inspiration Ellen is. She captured the crowds’ hearts with her energy and passion, proving the worth of fighting for what is important to you, and emphasising the importance of using the people, resources and knowledge available to you. With that, she has shown that amazing achievements can be made- and even as a busy working mum! It’s so humbling also that the achievements were not for herself or her team either, but for the safety and security of 100s of others! I know I wasn’t the only one starting to feel emotional hearing about her work with the team to rescue Afghanistan families and bring them to New Zealand. I look forward to following Ellen’s continued inspiration and achievements.

Rebecca Buchanan. Sales Manager, Massey University (Working mum).
Ellen has been someone I have followed and admired for her audacity in leading the #workschoolhours charge since connecting through my business RecruitMum. Ellen’s speech made simple sense to me – aligning the school schedule with the work schedule and bucking the trend away from archaic systems as is the 9-5pm work day. Ellen delivered practical insight into how organisations can attract and retain staff as well as the commercial benefits of moving to #workschoolhours to condense the workload to improve productivity. Her authenticity, passion, and scope of knowledge around the topic resonated hugely with her Women in Business audience, some even giving a standing ovation! Thanks for championing this work Ellen!
Clare Russell, Founder of RecruitMum / Communications & Media Senior at CEDA

We had the pleasure of hosting Dr Ellen Joan Nelson as our guest speaker at the October 2022 Women and Business Event. Ellen’s presentation style was both engaging and hugely inspiring with what I can only describe as a captivated audience. Ellen shared her vision for her #workschoolhours movement whilst demonstrating the underlying foundations of this through the ‘real world’ model of this in action with her volunteer work in evacuating 563 people from Afghanistan to New Zealand. The below quote, shared by one of our WAB Members beautifully summed up Ellen’s impact on the night: “I cannot remember the last time I teared up listening to someone speak but Dr Ellen Joan Nelson what an inspirational woman. Your vision and passion for #WorkSchoolHours was amazing to listen to and I took so much out of tonight”. I highly recommend Dr Ellen Joan Nelson for your next event – engaging, inspirational and a highly driven individual.

Pauline Meredith-King, Founder, Women and Business Manawatu

I had the pleasure of attending one of Dr Nelson’s workshops on the “future of workplaces” – I found Ellen to be interesting, engaging and someone who actively listens to feedback and questions. In particular I found her research and ideas around barriers facing women and parents in the workplace, and the #workschoolhours movement, to be very relevant to the problems real people face in today’s society. Ellen, I really hope to catch up with you again one day too – I will be keeping an eye on your future events. I cannot get enough of forward-thinking people (and inspiring women such as yourself).  Thanks again!

Julia Turnbull, Practice Manager, Cullinane Steele Limited (CS Law)

We hosted Dr Ellen Nelson in The Mahi Space for a workshop in November 2022. It was an intimate group so Ellen facilitated positive around-the-table discussion about previous experiences with flexible working arrangements and leadership. Ellen kept to time, kept the conversation constructive and kept the group on topic. Dr Nelson has a respectful way of inspiring people to think differently, while allowing them to express their thoughts and ideas. Ellen is inclusive of people’s opinions, backgrounds and values. When having a conversation or group discussion with Ellen she really seems to really listen and care deeply in an engaged manner. Ellen is considerate and empathetic with a great energy and passion for bringing change that will benefit everyone. We would happily welcome Ellen back to The Mahi Space soon.

Narita Dixon, Coordinator, The Mahi Space
I was so impressed by Ellen when she spoke at Manawatū Women & Business. I had followed her online for a couple of years and tautoko her message of #WorkSchoolHours. Ellen is engaging, charming, funny, knowledgeable and most importantly authentic.
Wendy Carr, Talent & Skills Senior, Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA)
Ellen is a dynamic speaker and is working to change the culture of work. I am excited about the work she is doing and how she is working to change the culture for not the amount of time a person works but the value of work they get done each day.
Amanda Huffman, Women of the Military Podcast Owner

Ellen’s presentation at BCITO’s Construction Summit was absolutely on point. She clearly set out advantages for workplaces where managers recognise and celebrate the diverse range of skills that people bring to their world of work. Ellen argued strongly for firms where people know they belong, have purpose, and are valued by the team – all of which are in business leaders’ hands. Ellen has a down-to-earth style of presentation that makes the audience feel at ease and engaged. Feedback from our 120 industry representatives present was extremely positive. I recommend Ellen as a public speaker whose messages and style appeal across a wide range of industries and community groups.

Greg Durkin, GM – Te Kāhui Whakawhitinga (Transformation), BCITO

Ellen was amazing to work with. From the contact pre-event to understand our objectives, to delivering on the day she was highly professional and organised. Ellen’s speaking was engaging with some really positive feedback received from our audience. Looking forward to working with her again!

Rebecca Travers, Events Specialist, BCITO

Ellen was a great addition to our recent skills summit focussed on Building People – how we can better value our people, remove barriers to employment and in return see increased retention and productivity. Ellen’s authentic ability to tell a story that combines her research, expertise and lived experince in leadership was extremely engaging and challenged all of us to think differently about the construct of how and when we work, and lead our teams. I’d highly recommend Ellen and the insight she brings to creating a better workplace for all.

Jason Hungerford, Director, BCITO Te Pūkenga

As an experienced researcher, I really enjoyed listening to how Dr Ellen wove her research and the theme of the workshop together to create a solid background for the workshop. Listening to her outline what “authenticity” looks like, and the environment needed for it to be reflected by leaders, was really enlightening, because some points she highlighted and explained are often overlooked. Her delivery was excellent, and I could tell from her gestures that Dr Ellen is passionate about what she does, and she is a living and breathing example of it. I found the workshop valuable, and I could tell from the response from other participants that there was a lot that people were getting from everything Dr Ellen shared from her stories, research, and experiences. I particularly want to highlight the three things she mentioned are necessary for an environment that will encourage individuals to thrive–sense of belonging, autonomy, and purpose. She did an amazing job unpacking what this means for each one in the room and how to create that environment.
Dr Ruth Wilfred-Orhoevwri, Senior Market Researcher-Consumer Services, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
Ellen effortlessly connected with a wide range of HR, Remuneration and Reward professionals at our 2022 RemNet Conference. Her warm and engaging personality combined with insightful research made for a thoroughly enjoyable and relevant presentation on the significant changes we are all experiencing in our working world. Ellen’s inclusion of personal anecdotes and real-world examples were very thought-provoking and helped to facilitate some very interesting discussions among attendees long after the conclusion of her presentation.
Ané Van Zyl, Marketing Coordinator, Strategic Pay Limited

I had the pleasure of attending a workshop lead by Ellen and was immediately taken by her enthusiasm. She made us feel safe and welcome, open to engage and be ourselves. I went away feeling ready to take on my next challenge!

Krissy Winter, Regional Manager – Southern, Medical Assurance Society (MAS)

Authentic Leadership: The best version of you, is you workshop with Dr Ellen was amazing, it takes you on a journey of true leadership and how you bring your own self to the role of leader. The structure and flow of the workshop worked well and there was plenty of opportunity to share and be inspired by other participants and their stories. I love that Ellen shared so much of her own journey and experiences throughout the workshop, bringing the content to life through her authentic storytelling! Loved it!

Celesté Houwniet, Learning and Development Partner, MAS – Medical Assurance Society

It was such a pleasure to work with Ellen on the Hatchery’s Women in Defence and Defence Industry Leadership Summit. Ellen is one of those speakers who is easy to listen to, has an engaging online presence, is adaptable to the audience and genuinely has a passion for the work she does. Our delegates certainly left feeling heard and inspired. The conference scored an amazing satisfaction rate of 94% with attendees, which is a result we’re incredibly proud of.
Dhaya Bengamine Beshere, Product Delivery Team Leader, The Hatchery
Dr Ellen is an interesting speaker with an impactful story. Her presentation at our conference had all our members talking and thinking of whether we could do things differently. Dr Ellen’s presentation style kept our audience engaged, and her willingness to interact with our members was also highly appreciated. Thanks again for speaking at our conference.
Chris Milsom, Chair, NZ Remuneration Network
I have been following Ellen’s work for a while and was excited to be able to participate in her workshop recently to understand it better. She comes across as a relaxed energising speaker and facilitator that is clearly skilled, very knowledgeable, with a mix of presentation and group work that kept everyone thoroughly engaged. By the end of the session, even the most shy among us had contributed their value, difficult questions had been professionally handled and I think all participants left satisfied. Thanks for a really interesting day, Ellen.
Sandra Finlay, Founder & CEO, Kindo & ezlunch
Wow how grateful I am to have graced the presence of Dr Ellen Joan (Ford) Nelson a guest speaker for the for the Envision Life Solutions Unstoppable event. An ex-army academic business mum, with deep expertise and experience in leadership, well-being and the future of work discussed the importance of work life balance, and the work organisations can focus on to retaining their top talent, improve organisational performance, and mental health and wellbeing of their employees in today’s modern ways of working. As a working mother who went back to work when my baby was 4 months old, I resonated to Dr Joan’s message having suffered from Post Natal Anxiety and mental and physical burnout. Dr Ellen Joan is a powerhouse but also fun and vibrant and I found myself engaged throughout the entire 1-hour presentation and would thoroughly recommend her for your next event. Dr Ellen’s story is relatable to her audience and her message is timely with the challenges that women are faced with today in our fast-paced, pressure-filled, and instant gratification driven society. She encourages women in particular mothers to live authentically and from a holistic perspective.
Jessica Jenkins, Co-Founder of the Women’s Wellness Hour of Power, National Corporate Relationship Manager & Insurance Business Magazine Elite Woman 2022
Hey Ellen, thank you so much for running the food and fibre sector leadership focus group. It was truly an honour to come along and share insights. And can I just say you running that group when each of us were speaking, I felt like I was directly speaking to you, and you listened with such care, attention and empathy and understanding. My friend was the first one that commented to me about this, so this is a great quality you have. Also, a massive congratulations on being a finalist for the local hero. It is truly a wonderful achievement and love seeing you thrive!!
Chelsea Hopkins, Agribusiness and Environmental Consultant, AgFirst
I cannot recommend enough having Dr Ellen Joan Nelson speaking at your next conference. A empowering yet realistic approach to modern leadership. Dr Ellen Joan Nelson is the expert in gender and the future of work while working school hours as a parent
Jasmine Retief, Pro Chancellor, Asia-Pacific Security Innovation Institute
It is a pleasure to endorse this amazing young woman, who recently spoke to the Feilding Makino Probus Club. As a result of her Army Work in Afghanistan, Ellen and three of her colleagues worked tirelessly to rescue 563 Afghan people and bring them to new Zealand. Ellen demonstrated that despite impossible odds, teamwork and dedication can eventually succeed. This was despite her personal experiences (at a cost to her own health) and huge stress. She is now working actively to improve employment conditions for parents in New Zealand. Ellen is an excellent speaker – clear, well organised and inspirational. Her address to us received a well-deserved standing ovation. I wish Ellen well and would recommend her as an excellent motivational speaker.
Warren Nicholls. M.B.Ch.B (Otago) Chair, My Free Health Check Committee.