Who We Are
Our People. Our Values.
Let’s get real for a second. Client logos, testimonials and fancy business jargon can make for an impressive looking website, but we know from experience that in this business it is the people-connection that matters.
Do our clients trust us to be at the front of the room when the stakes are highest? Do they trust us enough to be willing to open up about their biggest work challenges? Do they seek out our counsel knowing we always have their best interests at heart?
Well, you’d probably have to meet us to answer those questions. Until then, here is our best attempt at treading that fine line of singing our own praises whilst also appearing humble and approachable!
MICHELLE RUSHTON – DIRECTOR
Internally we call Michelle our Chief Execution Officer. Obsessed with getting things done, making progress over perfection, and building long-term client relationships that deliver practical outcomes that actually shift behaviour. Just don’t ask her to make a document look pretty…she’s got sh*t to do!
With over 15 years of experience with tens of thousands of people, Michelle has designed and delivered award-winning behaviour change and leadership development programs for companies like Microsoft, Australia Post and American Express.
As a speaker, facilitator and consultant, Michelle marries her up-close observations of high performing leaders and teams with contemporary behavioural science research to make sustained high-performance practical and achievable for her clients. An educator by training, Michelle has co-designed all of our programs and assessment tools and has conducted industry benchmarking research on the habits of high performance.
Michelle is also a nationally-recognised and award-winning educational leader, holding both an Honours and Masters of Education from Sydney University and one of the youngest ever recipients of the Educational Leadership Award from ACEL (Australian Council of Educational Leaders). Fun fact: she got her start performing for audiences while singing for the Australian Opera and being directed by luminaries like Baz Luhrmann!
Outside of work, she is a wife, a mother, a runner (sometimes), a singer (sometimes) and Beyonce fan (always).
SHAUN KENNY – DIRECTOR
Internally we call Shaun our Chief Creative Officer. With an insatiable appetite for new ideas and driven to create fresh tools and programs, he loves ‘the craft’ of creating experiences that light people up with laughter and learning. Just don’t bother asking him if he is keeping up with admin…look, there’s a squirrel!
Shaun is one of Asia Pacific’s most in-demand speakers and educators, having delivered 1,000+ sessions to 150,000+ people for over a decade with some of the world’s great companies.
In his role as mentor and advisor, Shaun has an up close and personal perspective of the challenges executives and leaders are grappling with in this rapidly changing world of work.
An economist by training, Shaun translates the latest insights of behavioural economics and neuroeconomics into practical tools that professionals can use for immediate impact. Shaun has also used his deep expertise in design thinking to help blue-chip clients embed cultures of empathy-driven innovation.
Previously in management consulting, he holds a Bachelor of Economics degree and a Masters of International Business, both from Sydney University. He also graduated from acting school after three and a half amazing years, which is something he rarely mentions though it informs every interaction he has with an audience.
Outside of work, Shaun is husband to his high school sweetheart, a father of two and is a keen (yet vertically challenged) basketball player.
MARISSE VAN DEN BERG – BUSINESS AND RELATIONSHIPS MANAGER
Finding solutions to keep people happy is Marisse’s motto. She is the lynchpin between clients and the facilitators of People of Influence. Marisse is passionate about making sure the client experience with the team is seamless and an energetic, joyful process from beginning to end. She also manages the business administration of the company and logistics of events and will move heaven and earth to make sure everything runs like clockwork.
Be warned though – she has a funny accent…say no more.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Look, Marisse wrote all of the above, and it’s true. But it really undersells what she means to us. Her pro-active problem solving, passion for continuous improvement and relentless positivity makes us so much better. Marisse was a client of People of Influence for a number of years, so we saw her brilliance up close. It was a no brainer to try to recruit her to the team. Alright, back to Marisse…
With a bachelor’s in business management Marisse brings a set of skills perfect for her role. She has over 30 years’ experience in business administration and dealing with stakeholders, internally and externally.
Outside of work Marisse is a mother to a couple of two-legged, adult kids and ‘mother’ to a couple of four-legged, furry kids. She enjoys cooking on weekends for the family and going for early morning walks.
Nanik Lubbers – Personal Assistant
Nanik is the glue of People of Influence, working behind the scenes to hold everything together! She has been with the company over 5 years and her wealth of experience is a great asset to the business. Nanik is responsible for office management, stock control, packing and re-packing our simulations and collateral, purchasing and all things logistics. Jumping in to run all the unexpected errands and pre-empting what might be needed, she is someone we truly can’t live without!
Nanik is the mother of two kids who are just-about-adults, the wife of a tall Dutchman and a lover of bushwalks, gardening and craft.
PETER WINKLER – VIDEO CONTENT PRODUCER
How does one describe Peter Winkler…? He has a cornucopia of experience in the creative field that spans over the past 18 years, from working in the film industry in Los Angeles to being the Creative Director of educational video content for “SciShow” on YouTube.
Originally from the USA, he over uses the word “awesome” and gives unwarranted high fives, which makes it no surprise that he was also a teacher of stand-up comedy at Chicago’s “Second City” where he made people laugh to fill that empty void in the middle of his self-deprecating chest, but Peter knew nothing could fill that void quite like an engaging video (hint hint, like and subscribe). So having left the land of the “free” he moved to Australia in 2013 to pursue his dream, his dream to find the perfect video content, make it shiny AF and help release it to the masses.
Outside of his love for editing, design and animating, Peter established a media and education company upon emigrating, helping those also in pursuit of their dreams to move to Australia to pass their English language exams for permanent residency. With this balance of educational delivery and creative vision, Peter has a unique talent for making educational material entertaining, engaging and sometimes, funny even.
When he isn’t “working” Peter enjoys travelling with his partner and volunteering for climate change conservation projects internationally. Didn’t see that last one coming, did ya? Peter M. Winkler everybody, (the “M” stands for mystery oooOOOoooOOoo, just kidding, it stands for Max… not as exciting but).
Side note, Peter wrote this bio, I mean I wrote this bio… I mean… who am I??
JASON MCSPEERIN – SENIOR FACILITATOR
We’ve known and worked with Jason since 2010 when Jason helped Shaun prep to deliver his very first corporate training program – a resilience program for Qantas. How time flies! With People of Influence, Jason delivers group training and executive coaching with a diverse array of our clients; from law firms and tech giants, to management consultants and pharma. To much acclaim might we add!
Over the past 15 years Jason McSpeerin has delivered more than 1,000 workshops for thousands of people. Jason has particularly deep experience working with leaders and sales professionals in advertising, financial services and FMCG.
Jason loves people and this shines through in the energy he brings to his interactions. He loves helping people develop the confidence and competence to become the best leaders they can be. Jason’s approach is highly facilitative, which provides participants with the opportunity to learn through their own experiences and increase their level of self-awareness and responsibility.
Jason has three children and enjoys running and playing golf when he has a spare moment. Oh yeah, he is also a little obsessed with AFL.
CLAIRE TURNER – LEADERSHIP COACH
Claire’s role as a leadership coach is to work with participants of our leadership programs, help them embed the learning and then turn that learning into lasting behavioural change. Claire is an expert at keeping people accountable to the plans and decisions they make.
With over 20 years of experience in people development, training and coaching, she is passionate about giving people the skills and tools they need to improve their lives. Her mission is to eliminate that “Sunday night feeling”, by enabling more people to design a space in the world that utilises their unique gifts and create a life that they are excited about.
Claire’s favourite topics include authentic leadership, communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, time management and self-care, which allows Claire to work at deep level, enabling clients to release limiting beliefs that may be holding them back from fulfilling their true potential.
As a self-confessed process nerd, she loves a spreadsheet and finds inventive ways to measure clients’ progress, increased confidence and return on investment.
Outside of work, she is a wife, a mother, ocean lover and a fierce dragon boating competitor.
Who we aspire to be. For our clients, colleagues and community.
We bring energy into every interaction. We have a laugh. We have fun. We engage in passionate discussion. We get excited. We get others excited. We channel our energy into getting things done. We are relentless in our pursuit of excellence. An unshakeable optimism. A steely drive.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
We love people. We connect. We care. We make people feel special. We are fully present. We are abundant with our smiles. We show our appreciation. We give more than we take. We are grounded in generosity.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“ Maya Angelou
We have the confidence to think bigger, without limits. To pursue an ambitious vision with conviction. We are hungry to do more, create more, contribute more. We want to make our highest level of contribution and have the courage to step up and out of our comfort zone for the sake of others. We believe in the value we offer as individuals and as a team.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
We are addicted to the buzz of learning new things. We listen. We read. We study. We are insatiably curious. We seek out new ideas, insights, tools, techniques. We are dedicated to improving our craft, our services, our business. We know there is always a better way.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ” Alvin Toffler
We embrace humility. We ask for feedback. We ask for advice. We look for ways to improve ourselves as human beings. We are secure enough in ourselves to be vulnerable. We show gratitude for the privilege that is doing this work. We raise others up. We celebrate their success. We are inspired by others.
“Being humble means recognising that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” Gordon B. Hinckley