Avril Henry

  • Avril Henry, Speaker

    Avril Henry is the founder of the Sydney-based management consultancy firm Avril Henry Pty Ltd and an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, author, coach and provocateur, who is passionate about diversity, and transforming old leadership models and workplace practices.  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…

    Location: NSW, Australia
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About Avril

Avril Henry is the founder of the Sydney-based management consultancy firm Avril Henry Pty Ltd and an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, author, coach and provocateur, who is passionate about diversity, and transforming old leadership models and workplace practices.  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.  Avril’s career has spanned senior roles in Finance, IT, Project Management, Change Management and HR across multiple industries and countries.

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 Henry is an outstanding speaker and facilitator: articulate, challenging, informative, compelling, dynamic, humorous, and inspiring are just some of the words that clients have used to describe her.

Avril is a game changer who tells it like it is. A decade ago, enlistments for the Australian Armed Services was 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 latest 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.


  • Leadership Excellence
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Generational Differences
  • Gender Equity
  • Emotional Intelligence & Resilience
  • Leading Change
  • Workforce Demography 

Related categories

  • Futurist/Future Speaker
  • Facilitator
  • Business Speaker
  • Motivational Speaker
  • Master of Ceremonies (MC)
  • Human Resources Expert

Keynote TITLES

  • The Secrets of Fearless Future Leadership
  • The Business of Intergenerational Differences
  • Unleashing the Future Workforce
  • Self-Leadership = The Power of One
  • The Economic Case for Diversity, Inclusion & Fairness
  • Successful Change requires Inclusive Leadership
  • Future Success = EQ + Resilience
  • Achieving the Gender Tipping Point: Women In Leadership

Keynote synopses

  • The Secrets of Fearless Future Leadership

What will it take to lead the workforce of the future? This keynote is based on extensive interviews with over 300 successful leaders and future leaders in Australia and overseas and will give you a detailed insight into the characteristics required of future leaders.

  • The Business of Intergenerational Differences

Each generation in the workplace has different expectations of the organisation, career management and their leaders, and are motivated by different things. Understanding these differences and harnessing the uniqueness of each generation enables managers and leaders to motivate and manage each generation for maximum employee engagement, productivity and performance, and developing organization capability.

  • Unleashing the Future Workforce

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, will create new and complex problems in society and business. This session looks at which skills will be redundant, which skills will be required and the overall impact of escalating technology changes.  Will you be prepared?

  • Self-Leadership = The Power of One

You cannot lead others unless you know how to lead yourself first. Self-leadership is about choices, self-awareness, self-belief and backing yourself. It is about the Power of One.

  • The Economic Case for Diversity, Inclusion & Fairness

Diversity leadership is about harnessing the strengths of gender, age, culture, disability, flexibility and different ways of thinking, working, managing and leading. True diversity leadership results in creativity, innovation and an environment where employees are encouraged to be the best they can be.  Without diversity, there is no innovation, only conformity and therefore more of the same.  Embracing diversity is an economic imperative and no longer a social justice cause.

  • Successful Change requires Inclusive Leadership

What does it take to transform organisations with long histories of tradition, hierarchy, command and control leadership and resistance to new ideas?  It takes leaders who are courageous, agile, flexible and willing to listen and innovate.  It requires looking outside the square and embracing change, even risking failure.  More than 60% of change programs fail as they focus on the wrong things first – clients, products/services and technology, without focusing on the people and communication.  If you focus on the people and communicate effectively, the rest will follow – clients, products, productivity and shareholder satisfaction!

  • Achieving the Gender Tipping Point: Women In Leadership

In Avril’s book on achieving gender equality, Lt Gen David Morrison, Chief of Army, and Australian of the Year (2016) wrote in the foreword: –

“By every credible measure, women are denied opportunities that are accorded to men as a birthright of their sex.   We need men of authority and conscience to play their part, and we most certainly need women – too long denied a strong enough voice – to be given the opportunities to lead in all endeavours”.

This session looks at the common myths about women at work and in leadership that we are simply wrong; how women hold themselves back; and what both men and women need to do to change that and 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. This requires individuals to be able to read others, build collaborative relationships and deal with personal or professional challenges and setbacks, to move forward in new, positive ways.   Are you, your people and your organisation emotionally intelligent and resilient?  Avril delivers EQ and resilience training to the Australian Army, and is an active advocate and speaker for RUOK?

Cutting through all 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, & Author

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

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.

Fund Managers

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 am proud to have worked with Avril during a period of cultural change and leadership development in the Australian Army. Avril has had a profound impact on a generation of senior leaders in the Army, including me. Avril worked hard to learn about the organisation and had respect for the many positive aspects of the culture but she was determined to help us drive change where it was needed. Few civilian advisers have done more to positively shape the new, inspirational group of Army leaders.

Major General F McLaughlin (retired) Australian Army






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