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Dr Denise

Champion of Future-Focused Leadership & Founding Director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience

Resilience grows between us as well as within us. Organisations that have built collective resilience are the ones that attract, motivate and retain the best people.


Dr. Denise Quinlan’s mission is to Make Work Better by preventing burnout, protecting wellbeing, and enabling sustainable performance. Her research and workshops inspire change, sharing practical tools and insights that generate hope. Recognized as one of the world’s leading resilience experts and a world-class facilitator, Denise’s immersive retreats and diploma-level training are most frequently described by participants as ‘life-changing.’

Dr. Quinlan’s ground-breaking academic research on the impact of strengths-based approaches to relationships, wellbeing, and social climate is acknowledged internationally. Her corporate background in the financial sector and management assessment and development, coupled with her expertise in course design and delivery, has enabled her to deliver transformative training to corporate leaders around the world.

As an award-winning guest lecturer at the globally ranked IE Business School in Madrid, Denise has taught strengths-based leadership to senior executives from Fortune 500 and leading global organizations. Co-founder of the Institute of Wellbeing & Resilience and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the University of Canterbury, Denise’s work is published in international academic journals and has won her international impact awards.

Talking Points

Stepping off the Hamster Wheel: Avoid overwhelm and burnout, protect performance and wellbeing

Feel like you’re running ever faster on the endless hamster wheel? Like you’re working longer, harder, earlier, later, with no let-up in sight? Then it’s time for change. Dr Denise Quinlan shares two critical keys to unlock your thinking and actions, helping you strengthen relationships, performance and wellbeing. Learn how you can reclaim focus in a world full of distractions, foster deeper connections within and across teams, and build a high-performance culture where people can thrive even under pressure. Relevant for work and home – these strategies will help you and your team prioritise and safeguard performance and wellbeing.

Strengths-based Leadership: how to elevate your skills and inspire your people

Leading through uncertainty and change calls for leaders who can build strong teams, equipped to handle ongoing disruption and challenge. Experienced leaders know it’s time to elevate the way you manage and draw the best from your people and teams. Learn the strengths-based leadership skills Dr Denise Quinlan has taught to senior executives from Fortune 500 and leading global organisations, as an award-winning guest lecturer at globally ranked IE Business School in Madrid. Find out how strengths-based leadership offers a proven pathway to identify and leverage your personal strengths, build belonging and inclusion, provide more effective and motivating strengths-based feedback to your teams,
and can help you unlock engagement, performance and retention through improved culture and relationships.

When the glass isn’t even half-empty: essential skills for recovering calm, focus and a sense of humour.

As a recovering pessimist, Dr Denise Quinlan knows that some days that annoying glass isn’t half full. It’s broken on the floor and your feet are wet. If your team has been giving their all and is heading towards overwhelm, overload, or even just ‘over it’ - then it’s time for a break and a reset. It is possible to have greater calm and focus in your day, to look after your wellbeing, and to be equally, if not more productive.
Dr Denise Quinlan will share the strategies she has taught to senior executives around the world and used to build her own resilience. You’ll learn why perfectionism and isolation are toxic for wellbeing and productivity, and leave with science-based practical skills to sustain personal wellbeing and boost team performance. If you’re tired of chasing your tail or keeping too many plates spinning, this humorous, interactive, and practical session is the tonic you need.

Collective Resilience: Why your team holds the secret to coping with challenge, beating burnout and performing at your best.

High performing leaders and effective organisations understand an important truth - when we work well together, we build each other’s resilience. You cope better with challenge and uncertainty when someone ‘has your back’. Learn how to recognise the six workplace drivers of burnout, and the practical strategies you and your teams can take to build Collective Resilience and prevent burnout. Denise will share why collective resilience has been shown to predict greater innovation, better performance under pressure, and increased job satisfaction.
Learn practical strategies you can use immediately to develop these outcomes for your workplace.

Making Work Better: How leading organisations are winning with people

As uncertainty and change become the new normal, leaders know they need to step up - engaging and motivating their people to build the adaptive, innovative organisations required in this environment. In this practical and energising presentation, Dr Denise Quinlan explains how Waypower, the essential new skillset for leaders, equips them to do this. You’ll find out why a leader’s ability to build trust, empower, and collaborate is more important now than being the expert with all the answers. Drawing on her research with NZ-based companies that are ‘winning with people’, Dr Quinlan shares the strategies and practices they are using to grow productivity, innovation, staff engagement and job satisfaction. Learn how purpose, flexibility, challenging and changing the way work is done, a culture of feedback, and leadership as self-navigation for all, is transforming organisations ranging from family to global businesses. You’ll leave with insights and ideas you can apply today.
Amazing and very easy to communicate with - a delight! New Zealand Vets Association

Dr. Quinlan's approach is steeped in solid science, coalesced with compassion and spiced with whole lot of fun. She won't do the work for you, but she will be with you to harness your strengths so that you can do the work.

International Positive Psychology Association

Everyone loved Denise's presentation - her messages were pragmatic and practical; her expertise was clearly on display and her delivery was compassionate.

Client Self Storage Association of Australasia (SSAA)

Denise was the perfect fit for our senior leaders event. She tailored her speech to our organisation and really connected with the attendees. We only wish we'd had more time with her!


Excellent talk, lovely person, really thankful to spend time together.


Denise engaged with our staff so well. The feedback I have been receiving since her presentation has been wonderful. Lots of our staff are now 'accepting the good' and celebrating the wins... Massive thank you to Dr. Denise.

Gisborne District Council

Denise was absolutely fabulous, she managed to connect with some very stoic funeral directors.

Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand

Denise was absolutely PERFECT for our event. She is very warm and engaging and has a way of presenting information that is easy to listen to. We received a lot of positive feedback afterwards.

Hospice Taranaki

Exceptional delivery with empathy and warmth.


Denise was well prepared and engaged well with the audience. She followed the brief provided and added in mentions of our brand when appropriate.

Anderson Lloyd

Denise is a fantastic speaker and brings a lot of energy and useful information to her talks.


Dr Denise Quinlan was a fantastic addition to our in-house TRILife program. The audience were fascinated by what they were hearing which Denise communicated in a funny and down to earth way. Denise was an absolute pleasure to have and her friendly and approachable nature created a wonderful atmosphere for our event.


The whole audience is entranced the moment Denise starts to speak, her lilting Irish accent SO compelling... you wish she would never stop! Not only does she engage the audience with a wonderful stage presence but she connects to them with powerful, intelligent, clearly articulated, thoughtful, relevant content. Denise's use of humour along with a genuine warmth and empathy enables her to deliver powerful messages. I whole heartedly recommend her as a keynote speaker, facilitator, MC, or panellist. She is fantastic!

Conference Innovators

Denise was a true gift to the team. Keep doing the amazing work that you are Denise, it is incredibly powerful.

Netball NZ

Let's talk, enquire with Louise now

Louise Ryburn

Managing Director - Celebrity Speakers NZ

Let's talk, enquire with Louise now

Louise Ryburn

Managing Director - Celebrity Speakers NZ

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