Dr Paul Wood

Human Resilience

Dr Paul Wood

As an 18-year-old, Dr Paul Wood was completely off the rails. He wasn't coping with the impending death of his mother, he was dependent on drugs, and was an unemployed high-school dropout who was committing crimes to feed his habit.

Two days after his mother died, he lost control when his then drug dealer attempted to sexually assault him. Paul was convicted of murder for this offence and then spent more than a decade in some of New Zealand's toughest prisons. During this period Paul became the first person in New Zealand’s history to progress through undergraduate and Masters degrees while in prison. He was also the first person to begin a Doctorate while incarcerated. Paul's educational pursuits dovetailed with a journey of personal exploration and change, both of which gave him a profound understanding of the ingredients required to successfully strive towards our potential, deal with the challenges of change, and build the mental toughness and resilience necessary to flourish in adversity.

On his release, Paul was able to translate this knowledge into strategies for improving leadership effectiveness and organisational culture. As a result, Paul rose rapidly through the ranks to become the senior manager responsible for Training and Development within the multinational professional services firm OPRA Consulting Group. Paul now runs his own practice and has served as a committee member and advisor to a number of boards.

Paul’s presentation style is dynamic, humorous, and deeply authentic. He speaks to the human resilience and provides practical insight on topics such as our capacity for change, how to cope with uncertainty, how to build mental toughness and resilience, the importance of self-reflection and personal accountability in growth, how to identify and maximise our potential and resilience, and how to turn adversity to your advantage.

Human Resilience

Dr Paul Wood will be discussing the key factors involved in striving towards your potential, overcoming the barriers that hold you back, turning adversity to your advantage, and living the most meaningful and enriched life possible. This will be based on Paul’s expertise in psychology and he will be using his personal journey from delinquent to doctor to illustrate these ideas and the lessons he has learnt. In this respect, his session will look at the importance of having realistic ideas about the experience of stress, the need to deliberately work on your self-care and wellbeing, and the importance of not comparing yourself to others and focusing on progress not perfection in the areas that matter most.



Key takeaways:

  • Stress is not a threat to be avoided, but a challenge to be embraced


  • Self-care is a discipline, not a luxury


  • The goal is getting better, not being good.

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