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Melanie Ho, keynote speaker

Dr. Melanie Ho

    • Expert on using the arts and creative storytelling for bolder change in strategy, leadership, & DEI
    • Award-winning business author, “Beyond Leaning In”
    • Leadership and strategy advisor to hundreds of university presidents
Full Bio
In Person-Fee 🛈

$7,500 - $10,000

Virtual Fee:

$7,500 and Under

Travels From

District of Columbia

Speaking Demo: Real Talk about What Women Face at Work (Melanie Ho)

Speaking Demo: Real Talk about What Women Face at Work (Melanie Ho)

Speaking Demo: The Power of Art and Visual Storytelling (Melanie Ho)

Speaking Demo: The Power of Art and Visual Storytelling (Melanie Ho)

Melanie Ho Speaker Biography

Melanie Ho is an award-winning author, speaker, and leadership consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 organizations, rising start-ups, leading universities, non-profits, and government groups. She blends 20 years of expertise in the leadership of complex organizations with her perspective as an artist and multi-media storyteller. Her unique workshops and interactive keynotes help audiences get to bolder transformations by starting with today’s most important leadership concepts – and then coming alive through the power of art and storytelling.

Melanie is especially passionate about inspiring reflection and action on gender and racial equity. Her debut book BEYOND LEANING IN: GENDER EQUITY AND WHAT ORGANIZATIONS ARE UP AGAINST received a silver medal in the 2022 Axiom Awards recognizing the world’s best business books, and has been acclaimed by Kirkus Reviews as “an engaging evolution of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ mantra.” As a visual artist, Melanie has also drawn dozens of comics about DEI in the workplace and was described by Film Daily as “one of the most empowering authors and visual artists right now.”

Prior to becoming an independent speaker and consultant, Melanie served as SVP and GM of Research at EAB Global, an education technology and consulting firm headquartered in Washington, DC (formerly part of The Advisory Board Company). As a founding member of the EAB leadership team, she helped grow an internal startup from 30 staff to over 1000 and acquisition by Vista Equity Partners for $1.55B. Melanie led a team of 100+ consultants that provided management advice to 1500+ universities worldwide, including 90% of the US News Top 100. She has personally advised hundreds of university presidents and other executive leaders on a wide range of strategic and leadership matters.

Melanie started her career teaching literature, visual culture, and leadership at UCLA, where she received the Distinguished Teaching Award and earned her Ph.D. in English. While at UCLA, she also chaired the board of directors of ASUCLA, the $75 million business that comprises restaurants, bookstores, trademarks and licensing, and other services at UCLA. Her doctoral dissertation, USEFUL FICTION, looked at the practical applications of novels in a changing world.

Is your team or audience looking to transform in bold new ways?
Melanie’s unique keynotes and workshops draw from research at the frontier of transformational change, from management science and organizational behavior to cognitive science and psychology. Her engaging sessions incorporate the latest thinking on how the imaginative arts (fiction, comics, theater, and more) can shift our perspectives and make concepts stick. Examples include:

• Future visioning—applying techniques from science fiction and world-building to design wholly new ways to support our teams, customers, constituents, or stakeholders
• Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)—using art as a way to lower our defenses on emotionally-charged topics; building empathy through the same tools used by fiction writers
• Leading change—learning how improv and theater can help us build cultures and strategies that better adapt to the twists and turns
Melanie designs talks and workshops on a variety of leadership, organizational, and DEI topics. Her signature sessions are below.

--------------- SIGNATURE SESSIONS ---------------

“Design Fiction” for Future Visioning
Did you know that Jeff Bezos was inspired to create the Kindle after reading Neal Stephenson’s science-fiction-classic The Diamond Age? A growing number of universities, businesses, and other organizations are finding that the tools of the imaginative arts — fiction, drawing, theater — can provide a powerful way to design new futures, shift mindsets, and align stakeholders around a common vision. In this unique interactive session, participants will use the tools of “design fiction” to create aspirational future visions for how to better meet the shifting needs of their audience (whether employees, customers, stakeholders, or constituents).

Renewing Our Commitment & Taking DEI to the Next Level
In candid moments, leaders confess that their organizations aren't making progress quickly enough on diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. It's hard to make time for meaningful DEI work when we're all facing new demands and grappling with systemic burnout. Plus, it can be challenging for “real talk” to occur when emotionally-charged topics give everyone reason to feel guarded. This innovative session draws from cross-industry research on how organizations achieve bolder transformation when progress is difficult despite our best intentions. Participants will learn hidden ways that organizations unintentionally self-sabotage their DEI efforts and leave with a plan for new actions they can take tomorrow to take DEI to the next level.

Leading through the Twists and Turns
Leading change has never been easy, but most of us have never experienced anything like this — trying to steer others through complex change and continued uncertainty while teams (and many leaders) are burnt out. The leadership mindsets and practices that got us here don’t *necessarily* feel wrong, but they don’t feel right either for a wholly new set of challenges. Many leaders today feel fatigued by a world that won’t stand still. How do we provide transparency about uncertainty without fueling anxiety? How do we ensure silos are aligned when there are so many moving parts? What new muscles do leaders need to build for greater organizational agility? We’ll answer these questions and more, providing participants with a toolkit for managing ambiguity and rallying stakeholders around complex change.

“Real Talk” about What Women Face at Work 
Much of the advice for professional women focuses on the need to lean in, but what about the barriers to doing so, or the unequal rewards (and even penalties) when women do lean in? All too often, the “real talk” about the challenges that professional women face happens behind closed doors. That makes it hard for women to make sense of their own experiences, and even harder for those across genders to partner together for gender equity. This session, which can include both women and allies, will discuss what’s needed from a systemic and cultural perspective to create more equitable environments that allow all professional women to thrive.

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