Avril Henry

Leadership Expert, Author and Keynote Speaker

Avril Henry is a recognised and awarded expert on leadership, diversity in the workplace, change management, and employee performance. She is also a published author and an internationally acclaimed mentor, coach, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator. Known for being articulate, challenging, and dynamic, she has worked with diverse industry groups across Australia, New Zealand and the world.

Avril is the founder of Sydney-based management consultancy firm Avril Henry Pty Ltd.Her career has spanned senior roles in finance, IT, project management, change management and human resources.

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Avril Henry graduated from the University of Cape Town in Accounting and Economics, migrating to Australia in 1980, with two suitcases, $500 and a dream to live freely and make a difference.

In 2016 Avril was named one of the AFR Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence, and one of the 10 most influential women in the Diversity & Equity space. 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 a 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 as one of the most inspiring businesswomen and female leaders. Avril has received the Coaching Leadership Award at the Global HR Excellence Awards.

Avril is a Fellow of CPA Australia, a Senior Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and member of the Australian Human Resources Institute.

For over two decades, Avril has delivered over 650 keynote addresses and 400 workshops to over 200,000 people, in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, USA and Asia to companies and industries as diverse as IBM, BHP, Department of Defence, Australian Tax Office, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Queensland Health, NSW Health, NSW Police, ANZ, Westpac, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Macquarie University, CPA Australia, Telstra, Australian Superannuation Funds Association, the Property Council of Australia, The Global Women's Summit, and various Singapore and Hong Kong government departments.

Avril is a game changer who tells it like it is. A decade ago, enlistments for the Australian Armed Services were dramatically declining. Our military was attracting fewer enquiries from young Australians - less and less of our generation Ys saw any merit in a career with the navy, army or air force. That's when the government turned to Avril for help in understanding why and what might be done to reverse the trend.

Avril completed a Ministerial Review for the Minister of Defence 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 & Capability Committee, being the first female and only civilian on the committee, a committee she served on from 2006-2017. In 2013 she was appointed as a senior advisor to the Chief of Army on gender diversity, values and cultural reform, and coaches’ senior officers including Generals and Brigadiers. 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 is a regular panelist on ABC’s The Drum, and ABC radio; and contributes articles to several industry publications and newspapers. For two years Avril also 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 the author and co-author of several books on leadership and the different generations at work, and her book, Leadership Revelations II How Australians Lead In Crises, topped the Australian Financial Review BOSS magazine's best brain food books of 2012. In 2015 her book, Leadership Revelations III, How We Achieve the Gender Tipping Point was launched by the Chief of Army and the ASX. In 2010 she released her first children's book.

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 the Venice Marathon.

Avril Henry speaks about:

The Secrets of Fearless Future Leadership - This keynote is based on extensive interviews with over 300 successful leaders and future leaders in Australia and overseas. It gives a detailed insight into the characteristics required of future leaders.

The Business of Intergenerational Differences -Avril explores the expectations and motivations for career management and leadership among different generations, empowering leaders to maximise employee engagement, productivity and performance, and to develop organisational capability.

Unleashing the Future Workforce -  New and complex problems are emerging due to rapidly ageing populations and workforces in educated societies, along with growing skills shortages globally and population growth confined to the 50 poorest countries in the world. This session looks at which skills will be redundant, which skills will be required and the overall impact of escalating technology changes.

Self-Leadership = The Power of One - You cannot lead others unless you know how to lead yourself first. Avrile speakers about self-leadership, self-awareness, self-belief and backing yourself.

The Economic Case for Diversity, Inclusion and Fairness – Diversity leadership is about harnessing the strengths of gender, age, culture, disability, flexibility and different ways of thinking, working, managing and leading. It results in creativity, innovation and an environment where employees are encouraged to be the best they can be.

Successful Change requires Inclusive Leadership - Avril encourages leaders to be courageous, agile, flexible, and willing to listen, innovate and even risk failure. By focusing on the people and communicating effectively, clients, products, productivity and shareholder satisfaction will follow!

Achieving the Gender Tipping Point: Women In LeadershipThis session looks at common myths about women at work and in leadership; how women hold themselves back; what men and women need to do to change this to ensure gender equality, now and in the future.

Future 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. Avril teaches her audiences how to read others, build collaborative relationships and deal with personal or professional challenges and setbacks, to move forward in new, positive ways.

Client testimonials

Cutting through all of the generational hype and bluster one person stands apart: Avril Henry. She tells it like it is and she tells it from the heart. Her conviction is palpable, her research is credible and her anecdotes are anchored in fact.

Bernard Salt, Demographer, KPMG

Fluent, captivating and authoritive presenter. A five-star performance; the highlight of the Congress. Great help for future reference and challenges ahead.

CPA Australia National Congress

Avril’s presentation was excellent, she had people talking about Gen X and Y for the whole Forum. Everyone was impressed with her knowledge of the topic, speaking without notes. She truly captivated the audience.

Institute of Body Corporate Managers

In the past 12 months, Avril has conducted a series of management workshops for me aimed at growing and developing management skills, particularly focusing on emotional intelligence. Again her energy and commitment to develop high quality managers impressed everyone. Avril is very passionate about people development and takes every opportunity to sell her compelling messages to audiences across Australia.

Commonwealth Bank

I now understand fully why you elect not to use a power point presentation. You managed to maintain the full attention of our guests for the duration of your presentation with your wonderful content and style. You are very obviously passionate about your topic and it shows. Your ability to hone in on this particular audience and the relevance to their investments was excellent. The feedback I received was that your presentation was very entertaining and fresh and that the facts rang true with so many present.

First Samuel Ltd

Avril is a clear and strategic thinker and an excellent sounding-board. She has helped me to improve my communication and listening skills through practical applications. She has also assisted me in enhancing my strategic focus across our organisation. Head of Finance,

Banking & Financial Institution

An excellent choice to provide the closing session, as she bought a level of passion and energy that kept attendees engaged till the end.

Australian Public Service Commission

I simply loved your presentation. As a professional MC, I see countless professional speakers each year, many of whom do not live up to the hype. You totally exceeded all the great things I have heard about you from colleagues on the circuit over the years. It was a terrific, insightful, thoroughly engaging presentation and many of the delegates were talking about it for the next few days.

RCSA Conference

Avril has the business savvy that many organisations dream of. Her messages are always challenging and to ignore them, you do so at your peril.

Golder Associates Pty Ltd

I now understand fully why you elect not to use a power point presentation. You managed to maintain the full attention of our guests for the duration of your presentation with your wonderful content and style. You are very obviously passionate about your topic and it shows. Your ability to hone in on this particular audience and the relevance to their investments was excellent. The feedback I received was that your presentation was very entertaining and fresh and that the facts rang true with so many present.

Fund Managers