Keynote Speaker

A strange thing happened to Homo sapiens only 250 years ago: we changed our habitat. The Industrial Revolution moved hunter-gatherers and villagers into offices and factories. Our surroundings changed, but the essence of what it means to be human did not. Author Andrew O’Keeffe specialises in the impact of how the instincts that served humans for thousands of years create both challenges and opportunities in organisations.

In an informative, entertaining and practical way, Andrew provides insight into why organisations, irrespective of their industry or market, find that their performance is restrained by a common list of complaints: internal rivalries, petty politics, challenges implementing change, the informal gossip grapevine and frustrations with performance conversations. The reasons, and the solutions, have to do with our nature as humans – indeed, our nature as a big-brain social species.

Andrew reveals the behavioural patterns of big-brain social species by comparing and contrasting humans to the next brainiest species, chimpanzees. He draws on the research and stories shared with him by Dr Jane Goodall.

The 250 years since the Industrial Revolution is no time for human nature to change with our new work environment. A framework of nine human behaviours shows how the instincts of clan connections, hierarchy, gossip, politics, snap judgments, status displays, and sexual competition show themselves at work and how leaders can make informed choices to create the conditions for high engagement and high performance. Andrew shows leaders how to work with – and not fight – Nature.


Andrew speaks on the topic of Successful Leadership Using Human Instincts. Topics broadly relate to making sense of the people-dimensions of workplaces and their impacts on:

  • Effective Leadership
  • High staff motivation, engagement and retention
  • High performance
  • Seamless change management.


Andrew O’Keeffe is the director of Hardwired Humans and the author of Hardwired Humans—Successful Leadership Using Human Instincts and The Boss. Andrew helps organisations align their leadership practices to human instincts.

Andrew has extensive experience as a senior HR executive with IBM, Cable & Wireless Optus, professional services firm Sinclair Knight Merz and Hewitt Associates. He started his career in industrial relations in the mining and manufacturing industries. He holds a bachelor of economics from The University of Sydney.

In 2008 and 2011 (and they will do so again in 2014), Andrew joined with the chimp expert Dr Jane Goodall speaking to business audiences on the implications of our social instincts to leadership of organisations.


Andrew is invited to return:

“Andrew O’Keeffe’s presentation at Happiness & Its Causes 2012 was riveting and had the audience of 1,500 people engaged and inspired. Andrew provided a fascinating insight into human instincts and how they can help us make sense of our behaviour and create happier workplaces. The session was both informative and entertaining and generated a lot of discussion.”

Beth Phelan
Conference Director
Happiness & Its Causes 2012

To CEOs and HR Directors:

“Andrew O’Keeffe really knows how to connect with his audience. He’s a truly terrific, thoughtful and very informative speaker. He has spoken on a number of occasions to our different groups of CEOs and HR directors and each time has quickly connected them with his subject, causing them to share, ask questions and have fun, imparting lots of relevant information about hardwired human instincts providing lasting messages and useful tools for people to apply both in their everyday life and as leaders in the workplace.”

Amanda McKernan
CEO Forum Group

To internal management groups:

“Andrew O’Keeffe and Human Instincts has transformed our thinking about leadership and change. Having heard Andrew speak at an industry conference we engaged him to speak at our annual leadership conference. His engaging, practical and story-telling approach strongly connected with our leaders and opened their eyes to new ways of thinking about leadership, communication and change.”

Andria Wyman-Clarke
Vice President Human Resources, North America
Thales USA, Inc.

Top-rating session:

“Thank you so much for speaking at our recent Realising Synergies in Mergers & Acquisitions conference. We had great feedback from the conference as a whole but particularly for your session. You got an 8.8 on average from the delegates which is the highest overall of our speakers from this conference! This is a great result and well done on a brilliant presentation.”

Fiona Morphett
Conference Coordinator

“At our recent HR conference your session was the highest rated session overall.”

Louise Ritchie
Event Administrator
The Ultimate Event Managers

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