CONTRIBUTORS Click on thumbnails for more details

Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson
School of Thinking, Melbourne

Derek Wenmoth

Diane Lithgow
Skills Consulting Group

Helen Down
Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce

Ben Naughton
Western Institute Technology Taranaki


Cathy Sheppard
BSI People Skills Ltd

Anne Riches
The Mindfield Navigator, Sydney

Derek Wenmoth – FutureMakers

Derek is acknowledged as one of NZ education’s foremost future focused thinkers, and is regularly asked to consult with policy makers and government agencies regarding the future directions of educational policy and practice in New Zealand and internationally.

Throughout his career in education Derek has been driven by a deep personal belief in the public good of education, regarding education as the pathway to self-improvement, and a fundamental right of every human being.

With a background as a teacher, principal, teacher educator and education policy advisor, Derek has been involved with a wide range of initiatives from exploring the innovative use of digital technologies and researching e-learning practices, to helping establish policy and strategies to enable the implementation of future focused learning systems.

In 2003 he helped establish CORE Education/Tātai Aho Rau, a not-for-profit organisation providing professional development services and support across all parts of the NZ education sector, including a significant team of facilitators providing support for Māori learners in both Māori medium and English medium settings. He stepped back from leading that organisation in 2017 to allow a new generation of leaders to step up. Derek’s current role in FutureMakers allows him to continue his work in future focused education across a wide range of contexts.

In recognition of his work in education, Derek was designated one of 2008’s “Global Six” by the George Lucas Educational Foundation which recognizes individuals making a difference in education.

Derek is a regular speaker at conferences both nationally and internationally, and maintains a blog on matters relating to e-learning and other aspects of interest to educators that can be found on the website.

Dr Amelia Sharman – Head of Policy, Ara Ake

Amelia Sharman is Head of Policy at Ara Ake and leads Ara Ake’s insights programme, which aims to accelerate the understanding, development, and adoption of new energy innovation.

Amelia has a PhD from the London School of Economics, an MSc from the University of Oxford (as a Commonwealth Scholar) and an MA(Hons) from the University of Auckland. Previous roles include for the New Zealand Productivity Commission, the Interim Climate Change Committee, the International Hydropower Association, Amec Foster Wheeler and MBIE.

Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson – School of Thinking, Melbourne

“ I’m often asked why I am known as “the father of x10 Thinking”. .. As an innovator in the new field of cognitive neuroscience my own original idea was ‘thinking instructors’.
My specific idea was: ‘Anyone can learn x10 Thinking if they have a thinking instructor.’”
 Michael Hewitt-Gleeson

Michael Hewitt-Gleeson is recognised as the father of x10 Thinking. The Visiting Fellow in Innovation, Latrobe University, holds a PhD degree in Cognitive Science from the elite International College. It was the world’s first PhD in Lateral Thinking.

Michael is Australia’s best-selling author of Software For Your Brain (1990), The x10 Memeplex (2000) and The 4th Brain (2019). His current projects include advising leadership strategy and innovation in agricultural research for the Victorian state government where he has designed a new online pandemic education experience for teaching x10 Thinking to research scientists.

Topic: Why is innovation so hard? How to make it easier through the Power of x10 Thinking
-Accelerating creativity and innovation through lateral thinking software for the brain.

Zoom and other video telephony platforms have been around for over a decade yet it took a global pandemic to catch us all up to using it. There’s often a big gap between innovation and our buy-in. Why? Because the most difficult feat in human thinking is to escape from our point of view. In the human brain lateral thinking is not natural but it can be done. How? When? Why? In this session you’ll get new software for your brain to accelerate your innovation capacity and speed of thought.

Cathy Sheppard – Founder & CEO BSI People Skills & BSI Teacher Skills, Ignite Your Leadership

Passionate about growing people, leaders and teams.  International speaker, trainer, coach, mentor.

BSI works to increase the effectiveness of people and teams in organisations – improving communication and relationship and working towards a shared vision. The aim is to create healthy workplaces with empowered leaders, good communication, motivated people and very little conflict.
“To me, education is not about filling a bucket, but lighting a fire (W.B. Yeats)”.

Topic: Covid Era Changes and Challenges for Education Leaders
–Overcoming resistance to change and building a mentally healthy leadership team

Covid has shown we need to prepare students for a very different world from what we grew up in, with the pace of change increasing exponentially. So, how can what we’ve learnt recently change the way we, as leaders in education, lead better when it comes to communication, adaptability, resilience and culture change, meaning our students will be better equipped to respond to the needs of humanity going forward.

Anne Riches – The Mindfield Navigator, Australia

Anne is an award-winning international speaker and educator on change leadership and workplace mental health.

Anne spent the first 20 years of her career leading change in executive positions as a lawyer, educator, and human resources director. Since then, she has been a change leadership specialist working with hundreds of organisations in Australia and around the world.  Anne says that the curious thing for her is that she used to guide organisations on changes like mergers or restructures. Now the major organisational change focus for leaders is: how can we be an open, safe and supportive mentally healthy workplace?

A lifetime of dealing with mental health challenges herself while forging her successful career, is the fuel for Anne’s passion to talk about mental health at work.

Anne works with leaders to be mentally healthy themselves; recognise, support and effectively manage colleagues who are struggling; and create psychologically safe places to work.

You can find more information about Anne on or follow her on LinkedIn.

Topic: Creating Mentally Healthy Workplaces-a conversation
-A major organisational change focus for leaders in the Covid era is on mentally healthy workplaces. How can your learning community be an open, safe and supportive mentally healthy workplace and learning space?

Drawing from her own personal and professional experience as a change leadership specialist working with hundreds of organisations in Australia and around the world, Anne  increasingly works with leaders to be mentally healthy themselves; recognise, support and effectively manage colleagues who are struggling and create psychologically safe places to work.

She is deeply aware of the powerful impact that talking openly about mental health has for those coping with these issues and for anyone who supports someone with a mental health challenge. More on Anne

Helen Down – Chief Executive, Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce

Helen Down is Chief Executive of the Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce, taking the position late in 2018. When the Government published the documentation outlining the proposed Reform of Vocational Education Helen was particularly interested in the aspects of the reforms that brought schools, students and employers together. The Hutt Valley Chamber undertook research within the business community and used this to develop an extensive submission to Government on the proposed reforms focusing on the need for change from an employer’s and business community perspective.

In 2019 the Hutt Valley Chamber, in conjunction with Upper Hutt City Council and Lower Hutt City Council, was awarded two Government contracts to provide several services within the local Hutt Valley community. The Hutt Valley Chamber now operates a very successful community Education to Employment Programme that focuses on supporting Year 12 and 13 secondary students to transition into local employment.

Ben Naughton – Manager, Secondary, Tertiary Pathways – Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT)

Ben has lived in Taranaki for about 20 years, having moved there from the UK in 1999. After completing Teacher Training in Wellington and working in a primary school there, he moved back to New Plymouth and began teaching in the secondary school part of the local Area School along Surf Highway 45.

After 15 years teaching in the secondary school, Ben moved to a new focus working for the Ministry of Education in Secondary / Tertiary Pathways in Whanganui and Palmerston North. This role was a challenging and exciting one at the forefront of education and engaging with a variety of initiatives that put the learner at the centre and supported learning and local opportunities.

Another opportunity came up with the Ministry of Education in Taranaki within Learning Support and managing the local Ministry office. The team in New Plymouth was outstanding and it was a real privilege to work in that space.

Following his work with the Ministry of Education Ben set up as a contractor and consultant and continued to focus on social service sector enterprise and initiatives. He has had the great pleasure of working closely with the Bishop’s Action Foundation and other community groups such as Flourish Taranaki who are engaged in making a difference for our people here in Taranaki.

Currently, he is working for Te Kura Matatini o Taranaki, WITT managing the Secondary / Tertiary Pathways team. His heart is in education and his previous experience in secondary tertiary pathways told him the role is hugely rewarding. He loves talking about the future of education, enabling innovation and opening opportunities for students.

Outside of work Ben has a few hobbies including the gym where he pretends to keep fit! He enjoys photography and animals. At home, they love large dogs and  currently have a Newfoundland puppy who is just six months old. She keeps the family on their toes!

Diane Lithgow – GM Transitions, Skills Consulting Group

Diane is GM Transitions, Skills Consulting Group,  leading the effort on behalf of Skills Consulting Group to navigate through the Review of Vocational Education (RoVE) transition.She has a long background in senior roles in the ITO sector and brings a workplace learning perspective. She has recently been a member of the Workforce Development Council design group, and is currently part-time seconded to TEC to support the RoVE establishment unit on the setting up of new Workforce Development Councils.

M.A. (Hons), Dip.Tchg., AFNZIM

Virtual ELF21 Convener and Zoom Host

Lyall Lukey, Convener of the annual Education Leaders Forums since 2007 is the Managing Director of Lyall Lukey Resources Ltd, founded in 1987 and the originator and co-ordinator of SmartNet, 1997 and Silververve, 2017.

Lyall has a unique background spanning the academic and business worlds. His History MA Honours thesis was entitled Industrial Conflict in New Zealand 1951-61.  He is a former secondary school teacher and Visiting Teaching Fellow at the University of Canterbury. He also had three seconded stints in teacher recruiting.

He is a former National President and a Life Member of the service club Round Table New Zealand, a past member of the Rotary Club of Christchurch Sunrise and a Paul Harris Fellow. He was on the Board of Cholmondeley Children’s Home from 1987 to 2007 and was President from 2001 to 2005. He was made a Life Member of the Home in 2007. He was also the founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Cholmondeley Children’s Foundation, serving from 2004-17.

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