Woman in Innovation: Abby Rees
"I see people have 'light bulb' moments every day."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?
PunkPD specialises in humans- human emotion, behaviour and cognition.
At PunkPD we are continually invested in innovating professional and personal development- both in how people experience their development and how it is delivered.
We have 3 primary focal points: Coaching (Developmental, Executive and Relationship Coaching for Couples), Professional Development and Culture Change.
PunkPD is built on three foundational values, and we bring these to every piece of work we engage: Energy, Excellence and Tenacity. It is these values, and the extensive training and experience of PunkPD’s Director, which set us apart from other providers. People who engage PunkPD do so because they seek innovative, dynamic and sustainable solutions for their organisations and desire the high energy delivery style, commitment to absolute excellence and the tenacity we bring to each and every program.

Why is innovation important to you?
Because people are amazing! We have an unbridled capacity to innovate, adapt and create and this excites me beyond explanation. However, in many workplaces, people do not feel psychologically or socially safe, and this means that their ideas stay in their own minds. I am passionate about helping people, leaders in particular, foster environments where people can truly capitalise on diversity and share their thoughts, ideas and innovations openly and constructively. Not be hampered by hierarchy, social constraints or fear. Many workplaces spend a lot of time and money training people HOW to innovate. In fact, the real power lies in changing the cultural aspects that have made it unsafe for the sharing, creation and cultivation of ideas. Only then, when the culture is supportive, can the ‘how to innovate’ be any use.
Similarly, in my industry, it has been safe for so many providers to simply rehash a powerpoint and pull out a workbook. Yawn! If this were conducive to effective learning, we’d all be masters. PunkPD aims to disrupt this- to raise people’s expectations of their own learning experiences and their capacity to learn, by providing the new and different. We are constantly evolving what we do and how we do it and I love it!!!

What drives you to make a difference?
People! I love us! I love everything about us! Our complexity, our dynamic capacity for endless change and purposeful growth, the way we think and process, how emotions change and colour what we see, how no two people can ever truly experience one stimulus in exactly the same way, how relationships form and change, how conflict works, oh my goodness I could go on and on!
I am passionate about people. About making life a little easier for everyone. About giving people tools to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives, learning and experience and to understand what is happening on a behavioural, cognitive and emotional level. So many of us graduated school with an understanding of algebra, or rock formations, or computer software. How many of us graduated with an understanding of how to use our own software- our own emotions and our own brain? Not many of us- that’s for sure, but once we do, it is transformative!
I see couples transform how they relate, I see people have ‘light bulb’ moments every day. I see teams repair and managers transition into leaders and create positive culture change. I am privileged to work with people every day and create positive change. What could be better than that?

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
I most certainly do!
Find that thing, that thing that only you have, and crank the hell out of it. It might even be something you have been chastised for in the past. I never fitted into the average workplace. I was too loud, too excited, too passionate, too curious, too ready to learn and try the new thing. I always felt like ‘the other’. But these are the very things that make me awesome at what I do now! So stop viewing your ‘you-ness’ as something to dim or change, even if it doesn’t fit in your current environment. It’s their problem. Not yours.
Stop waiting for anyone to give you permission or to support your idea. If you believe in it, that’s enough! As women, the majority of us are far too externally referent and depending on who we hang around, they may simply just not get our idea. That’s fine. But you get it. So do it. They’ll adjust!
Be prepared to let go. This was a big one for me. We don’t have to have all of the answers and, quite frankly, control is an illusion anyway. The answers will come when you’re already on the journey. They won’t appear before you take the first step- that’s just not how it works.
And this one I shared at a recent Soul Seminar and is my guiding force: use fear to keep you sharp, not small. Fear is totally normal. It’s a threat response to new things. Acknowledge it (it’s designed to keep us safe) and move through it. Only then will we continually discover what we can do. And this feeling, the feeling of doing the thing and becoming the person you always wanted to be- this is irreplaceable!

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