Healthy Business Blog


5 minutes with Derek Handley

Monday, 4 September 2017 by the Southern Cross team


With less than 6 weeks to go until Wellbeing Now 2017 – Culture & purpose we sat down with keynote speaker and inspirational Kiwi, Derek Handley. He told us a bit about what he’s been up to as well as what we can look forward to on 9 November.

What have you been up to since you graced our living rooms on ‘What next’  back in June?

For quite a few years now I’ve been working on a large variety of projects and initiatives. In New Zealand, right now I’m focused on issues around the future of Auckland and Aucklanders, doing a lot of learning and discovery on what’s working and what isn’t working for the lives of ordinary Kiwis in our biggest and most diverse city.

I’m also back building new start-up companies as the Chief Innovation Officer with Human Ventures in New York. Human Ventures builds start-ups, and my responsibility is the pipeline of new ideas, new founding teams and launch plans required to create them. I’m hoping to launch about ten new companies in the next year or so, that all connect in some way to improving the lives and wellbeing of humans around the world!

Tell us a bit more about the purpose behind your latest venture, Aera Foundation.

Aera is a playground for experimenting in ideas and projects that work towards improving New Zealand. The purpose behind it, is to provide a vehicle to try things, learn and work on issues and challenges we have in society – in more creative and imaginative ways! As a charitable trust, how it does this can range from making small grants towards worthy initiatives or people, to creating fellowships for bright young talents or advocacy work to improve our understanding or engagement with things we need to make better.

What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge employers currently face when it comes to engaging their people?

I think it’s the challenge of truly connecting the sense of personal purpose each of us needs to feel, with the purpose of the organisation and the meaning we each get from the work we do there. The more the gap between the individual's understanding of why they’re here and how they feel valued in the world, with whatever the company exists to achieve and how it goes about achieving it, the more challenging I think it becomes. 

Give us some insight into your talk at Wellbeing now. What will our audience learn?

What will probably feature prominently are some ideas of how we’re all here to do something unique with our time alive, and how we will do that with a set of values that will evolve as we grow, and that we sometimes don’t explicitly understand. The intersection of these thoughts, and the role of the workplace and our ‘careers’ in life, forms a large part of whether we feel we are happy, doing well and making a difference in the world. I’ll also try to explore new ways of measuring and paying attention to how ‘well’ we are in the work place that fall far beyond the physical fitness and ‘occupational health and safety’ which is where our current corporate benchmark has probably settled at for the time being.


Can’t wait to hear more? Join us at Wellbeing Now!

Wellbeing Now 2017 - Culture & purpose
Thursday 9 November, 9am – 5pm
SkyCity, Auckland


Return to the Healthy business blog