I was born to marvel at this big, wide, ceaselessly evolving world, and how I decided to marvel at it, to celebrate it, was via scientific pursuit. My first degrees were in Zoology and Education, earned while working at Mote Marine Laboratory and Cincinnati Zoo where I was either teaching, studying fish known as snook, or working in the conservation department.
Post graduation I elbowed my way into my dream job at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, again teaching (if you need info on the beluga whale, I’m your gal), training, supervising, and leading the redesign of the underwater narration of the Coral Reef Habitat, which culminated into giving a presentation while scuba diving in a giant fish tank.
I’ve logged hundreds of hours on the ocean, participated in the tagging of sharks, the researching of dolphins, and the sampling of toxic algae known as red tide. I’ve dissected squid, nursed injured whales, and excavated sea turtle nests on the beach at night. I was chosen to represent Southwest Florida in New South Wales, Australia, for Rotary International, living there for five weeks, making countless presentations, while studying conservation science and the sea.
But all this time, working with and for the animals, I was existing in and climbing the hierarchy of my own animal kingdom - that of the business and leadership world.
(And let’s be real - even though zoos and aquariums are technically non-profits, we all know the major difference between them and their for-profit counterparts is a checkbox on a tax form.)
At thirty years old, I detoured, feeling the need to dig deeper instead of climb higher, and so applied for and received a Rotary Ambassadorial scholarship for graduate school in New Zealand, which required shedding old skin - relinquishing my dream job, my American identity, and my surplus of American comforts.
No one evolves without sacrifice. And no one gets to lead without knowing how to follow their instinct.
That’s what leadership is - locking horns with change. Participating with, not avoiding it. Fighting intuitively and advantageously...while constantly surrendering to the call of your own nature.
This is what our own human hierarchies often fail to teach us. We learn to fear change, revert to status quos, or run full speed until we’re exhausted and weakened. But the wilderness reminds us all the time that adaptation is survival. That survival requires taking chances. That endurance is best maintained in a healthy pack. And that there’s no point in a constant sprint, especially when you don’t have clear sight of the feast.
I returned from earning my graduate degree in New Zealand to earn a second one in the US before going to work for Busch Gardens where my office was next to a thirteen-foot python. Sometimes there was a sloth in there with me. Sometimes tigers were escorted down the hall. Some would say I’ve been surrounded by novelty my entire career. But I would say, I’ve been immersed in inspiration.
I could name thousands of industries that look to nature for solutions to their problems, for blueprints to their technology, for innovations in their medicine.
The planet itself is a manifestation of ideas.
So of course it has lessons for our business leaders. And I cannot wait to share with you what I know is common between us and the most seemingly alien ecosystems. Or what I’ve learned from my decade of working within organizations, followed by another decade of working outside of them running my consulting firm. These experiences and observations inform how I lead my company, and determine how I partner with the corporations, associations, government organizations, non-profits, and community groups that seek my expertise and insight.
My stories and case studies always resonate with those in leadership positions because, as the ones who create, execute, and lead forth with a plan, they connect us to what we already know:
That our talents are intrinsic, unique, and necessary. And a met goal, an end game, a finish line are achievements that mark the beginning of the next challenge.
Challenges we’re destined to encounter. To spar with. And evolve through.
Julie Henry, Founder and President
Julie Henry helps leaders keep their eyes forward, heart focused and mind ready as they lead to the finish line. She helps them create momentum and buy-in as they target a strategic goal. And she helps them look at every opportunity in front of an audience as a potentially career-defining moment.
Through this lens, leaders can feel "safe, but not comfortable" (Julie's signature approach) in taking risks and learning how to leverage their unique voice for maximum impact.
Originally trained as a scientist, Julie went on to gain leadership experience (and formal degrees) in education, business and communication. The first ten years of her career spent working alongside animals and conservation heroes in zoos and aquariums were always eventful as no day was ever the same. Whether it was a sloth hanging out in her office or a dolphin upstaging her presentation, working at the intersection of animals and people was a unique training ground for her work today.
She knows first-hand that strategic ideas and lofty goals are only as good as the action taken and buy-in of the people who need to own it. She knows organizations do not need more 'update presentations' or facilitated discussions that lead to indecision - they need leaders who know how to use their time to drive results and create a culture where speaking and presentation skills are considered essential to developing and retaining people.
Julie is still a science girl at heart and loves teaching cool (or icky!) experiments at her children's elementary school and encouraging them to explore the outdoors. She knows what it takes to get across the finish line - both personally and professionally - and values embracing the inevitable change and challenges faced along the way. She is a marathon runner, triathlete, and mom of two children, ages 10 and 11, who think she wins every race because she comes home with a medal.
Presented to over 1 million people, across 32 states and 6 countries
Professional Member, National Speakers Association
Advisor, Conservation Education Committee (CEC) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to New Zealand
Rotary Group Study Exchange Team Member to Australia
Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow, National Audubon Society
Former Vice President of Education at Mote Marine Laboratory, Manager at Busch Gardens and Educator at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium
MA Communication, University of South Florida
Sustainable Business Leadership Executive Program Graduate, Green Mountain College (Vermont)
Postgraduate Diploma, Outdoor Education, University of Otago (New Zealand)
BS Zoology with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Miami University of Ohio
BS Education, Miami University of Ohio
Finisher - New York Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, Space Coast Marathon and Disney Marathon