Petra Velzeboer is a dynamic, entertaining and practical storyteller who is sure to bring life, laughter and insight to your audience. A global TEDx speaker, psychotherapist, author, and CEO of mental health consultancy PVL, she brings expertise on topics that impact employees, managers and C-suite leadership with the aim of evolving our workplaces and cultures for the new world of work.
The future of work is a hot topic which Petra speaks on with passion and excitement, complimenting the narratives around AI and enhancing this debate by bringing people into the forefront! With a new angle on wellbeing, her focus on mental health and resilience in a world of change is one that challenges ‘bubble bath wellbeing’ and instead focuses on positive psychology, elite performance, and creating dynamic teams that you will retain as they grow and evolve together – creating a future of work that is good for our health and sustainable for long term success.
Her inspiration and motivation come from her unique and compelling story which she tells with vulnerability, authenticity and dynamic challenge to her audiences worldwide. Born and raised in a notorious cult she knows first-hand what a toxic culture feels like and what it takes to build resilience and take responsibility for good mental health. When she finally left the cult, she spiralled into addiction, depression and anxiety leaving her a desperate suicidal mother of two young children. Hitting several crash points, she finally decided to let go of her victim mindset and begin to build a life that was worth living.
She’s known for comparing cults to corporates and adapting her message to suit audiences of employees, senior leadership teams and HR or DEI teams.
Petra is the author of ‘Begin with You’ published by Kogan Page, a practical insight into thriving in adversity and challenging toxicity, groupthink and culty behaviours in a world that is desperate for change.
Featured in Newsweek, the Huffington Post, BBC Radio, Stylist and many more she’s known for her no-bullsh*t approach to challenging behaviours and motivating leaders, employees, HR professionals and wellbeing champions to truly be the change they wish to see at work.
28% of UK employees either left their job in 2021 or are planning to leave it in 2022. 61% of respondents saying this was due to poor mental health. (Deloitte, 2022). The average cost of an employee exit is 33% of their annual salary. (Work Institute Retention Report). The pandemic turned the world of work on its head, creating shock waves across the globe. This presented a unique opportunity to re-evaluate the way we’ve always done work. Petra’s background of being raised in a notorious cult and seeing many similarities in the world of work today, drives her to challenge outdated work practices and usher in a new way of working. She challenges companies to shift their focus and prioritise investment in human capital, wellbeing, and mental health – offering clear and practical tools to translate to leaders everyday lives. Petra poses a question that completely changes the way we have viewed work: What if work was good for our mental health, not something we had to recover from afterwards?
A cost of $322 billion in turnover and lost productivity globally due to employee burnout (Gallup 2022). You’ve likely heard the word Burnout a lot in recent years, but what does Burnout really mean? How can we understand this condition, prevent it from happening and support individuals to recover should they become burnt out? This session normalises why burnout happens and explains how to spot early signals and put preventative behaviours in place. It also explores how to recover and rebuild for those who have been experiencing burnout.
Presenteeism costs £775 per employee per month. This is £9.3m per year for an organisation of 1000 employees. (Champion Health, 2022). The buzzword of resilience is the way many leaders focus on wellbeing. They want people to soldier on, man-up, keep delivering amidst waves of uncertainty and restructure and they outsource to helplines and professionals when the going gets tough. This approach often puts blame on the individual for what is actually a systemic challenge – one of evolving our working practices and ways that we create belonging and a sense of team in a hybrid world. Petra offers a new approach, one of investing in mindset and understanding the language to explicitly create space for our people to thrive. This in turn improves productivity and ensures we retain talent longer term.
Petra brings a unique angle to the world of work. Raised in a notorious cult, she knows first-hand what toxicity looks like and is able to assess the PR version of well-being vs authentic psychological safety. She challenges leaders and individuals to take ownership of their culture, offering practical tools for evolving our workplaces for the future.
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"It has been a unique privilege to meet and work with Petra Petra is the rarest of keynotes; someone who knows the science but who has also a lived experience to bring to bear on such an important topic. She is brave in her approach and this you learn is perhaps the key lesson in opening up and addressing mental health needs. She achieves a mix of levity and seriousness that T.S Eliot would be proud of and it's the first talk I have seen in a long time where none of the 300 attendees glanced at their phone or checked the time. This is such an important topic that we need advocates such as Petra to open up the conversation in such a powerful, practical and ultimately uplifting way."
Business Analysts Annual Conference
"We wanted to close our conference with a memorable moment – and Petra delivered on an often-ignored issue: our mental health. With positive vibes, an energetic speech, get-together touchy moments and many wake-up calls, the participants were taken on an emotional roller-coaster of positive attitudes towards our… mind."
UNIBA Partners Annual Conference
"Petra supported us to develop our Global Mental Health Strategy - including bespoke content and re-development of our Mental Health Champions Programme. She offered practical support, thought leadership, clinical expertise and facilitated training in-person and virtually across the UK, US, EMEA and Asia. On top of this, Petra is adaptable, empathetic and highly committed. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking to develop a market-leading approach to mental health and wellbeing. I'm excited to continue working together to implement our new strategy."
Herbert Smith Freehills
"We had the pleasure of having Petra speak at an internal Guardian employee event for mental health awareness week. The honesty in which she shared her personal experience was quite moving. She was both informative and inspirational. I would highly recommend her workshop."
The Guardian UK
"Petra certainly knows her stuff and has the ability to put it across in a no nonsense, practical and highly inspirational way. She brings the perfect balance of support and challenge to everything that she does. We were lucky to have Petra support a number of events at William Hill and it was a pleasure to work with her. A pleasure that I hope that we will be able to repeat again soon."
"I would highly recommend Petra as a knowledgeable and credible speaker! Petra’s authentic and engaging style, delivering at our national conferences, has been key to the success of our wellbeing program."
"We invited Petra to speak at our event and were blown away by her incredibly unique story! She is an accomplished keynote speaker who provided so much practical advice on how to look after our people in the new world of work."
"Petra’s book brings inspiration, practical thinking and true thought leadership that I would recommend to anyone who wants a new angle on how to view their wellbeing at work."
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