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Rewire Your Brain
Rewire Your World

Fiona Kerr

“Changing how we think about how we think”

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Dr. Fiona Kerr is a prominent thought leader in the fields of social cognitive neuroscience (SCN) and human connectivity.

Bringing together the fields of SCN and complex systems dynamics, Fiona tackles large, wicked problems by distilling complex issues into useful, pragmatic ideas, and framing them in a way which entices people to get involved and help shape change.

Fiona is a public speaker and science communicator, speaking on the neuroscience of leadership, collaboration and innovation. Her keynotes are thought provoking, precise and open people’s minds to a level of clarity that is critical to high performers.

Fiona combines a half time academic role with Adelaide University as their Systems and Neural Complexity Specialist, with public speaking and consulting on a range of SCN areas, human/technology interaction and systems complexity. She holds an advisory role with a number of Australia’s largest companies, working on how leaders can build better brains and create organisations that flourish. Fiona has also consulted with a number of fascinating organisations including the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil on creative ideation. In addition, she is consult to governments in Australia and overseas on building creative democracies and innovative ecosystems.

Fiona brings together the fields of SCN and complex systems dynamics to tackle large, wicked problems by distilling complex issues into useful, pragmatic ideas, and framing them in a way which entices people to get involved and help shape change.

A major driver is an interest in the value of human interaction and its transformative power, whether it is the ability of leaders to build flourishing environments and boost complex thinking, or the power of human touch and eye gaze on healing and wellness.

Part of understanding and valuing the dynamics of human interaction is knowing when it offers advantages over the technology-based interaction which is becoming pervasive in human society. To that end Fiona partnered with biomedical engineer Dr Jordan Nguyen, and co-founded human-e, a social enterprise using a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the neurophysiological effects of interaction between humans and multiple technologies. human-e works to develop strategies to ensure that the use of technologies are not based on assumption or guided by corporate profit, but instead can be maximised to shape beneficial partnerships between humans and technology going forward.

Creativity is non-linear, while data is very much linear. When human beings get all together, they have lots of different ways of using their brains to interact.

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KNOWLEDGE

Whilst actively working to create positive change in projects with governments and corporations, Fiona remains a scientist at heart. Her academic pursuits are helping to pave the way for a better understanding of a number of aspects of human systems interaction, and she maintains a strong focus on building knowledge which will allow us to shape a future that builds on and leverages the capacity of humans to build a successful society in a flourishing environment.

After nearly thirty years of working in and with organisations, some of which were truly adaptive, Fiona returned to university and wrote a thesis on Creating and Leading Adaptive Organisations, investigating why the successful ones worked. She combined complex systems engineering (to investigate the dynamics of organisations and ecosystems) with researching the cognitive characteristics of adaptive leaders and their staff as they grew in capacity and flourished as individuals, groups and organisations.

“Emergent logic leaders build rich metacognitive skills over time which they can also engender in those they lead as long as there is an environment of trust, a shared understanding of purpose, and an infrastructure which allows people to discover, learn and lead, and to feel supported when they are nudged into new spaces”

Listen to Fiona on ABC’s Ockham’s Razor:
Neurogenesis: a force for creativity?

Fiona is currently working across three faculties at the University of Adelaide. In the Faculty of the Professions, she works on systems complexity and Neuroleadership, consults and presents to a small number of masterclasses for Executive Education, and sits on a number of interdisciplinary project teams.

In the Faculty of Health Sciences, Fiona is currently completing a scoping review on The neurophysiology of human touch and eye gaze and effects on therapeutic relationships and healing, in order to gain insight into those facets of human interaction which are more effective and efficient than technological intervention in therapeutic and care settings. This will assist in shaping a human-centric approach to the adoption of technologies such as the robot nurse and carer, not only by informing on the best use of direct human interaction, but also helping in the design of cutting edge interactive technologies.

Fiona has an advisory role and is a guest presenter in the Faculty of Engineering on Artificial Intelligence, especially around aspects of human neurophysiology (as they pertain to machine learning) and the iterative process of humans and technology shaping each other. She is currently part of an interdisciplinary engineering project group partnering with a Defence-funded CRC on trusted autonomous systems.

“Organisations are people and people are organisations”

Outside the University of Adelaide, Fiona works in collaboration with a number of research institutes and universities around the world on an eclectic range of subjects. These include current collaboration invitations:

– with DATA61 (the digital research network for CSIRO), on potential areas such as cognitive infomatics, autonomous systems and AI, human dynamics and multimodal cognitive load;

– with SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) on researching human-technology interaction.

Previous collaborations include:

– Investigating complex systems, innovation policies and creativity at Baden’s Fraunhofer Institute;

– Investigating complex systems, innovation policies and creativity at Baden’s Fraunhofer Institute;

– Co-designing a summer school syllabus with Montreal University, for world renowned creatives such as Cirque du Soleil, Disney and Ubisoft on ideation;

– Working with APEC, ISD (Indonesia) and NUS (Singapore) on building smart, creative cities and future proofing.

Fiona has contributed to a number of books, writing chapters on Operationalising Innovation: Hotwiring the Creative Organisation; It’s What We’re Here For – A Once In A Lifetime Chance and Taking a Premium Quality Chocolate Family Business onto the E-Market – Haigh’s, as well as a manual for government on Using Value Chain Mapping to Build Comparative Advantage.

Letting your mind wander can increase your creativity and help you when it comes to tackling complex problems.

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As an expert in the neuroscience of human connectivity and complex systems, Fiona adapts relevant elements to advise and talk to both organisations and the public on the importance of communication and interconnection.

She is a regular keynote speaker in Australia and overseas on a number of topics. These include the areas of neurogenesis (building new brain) and the neurophysiology of human interaction; the cognition of leadership, collaboration and creativity; how to build resilience through long lens problem solving and a capacity for foresight, and the neuroscience of values, learning, community engagement, and trust.

The intersection of humans and technology is another major topic which includes the use of technologies in organisations, how technology shapes us, AI (advantages and issues) and shaping a human centric future. Fiona’s keynotes are designed to inspire and empower all audiences, from corporate conferences to community forums.

Fiona has also had appearances on national media such as SBS Insight, ABC Catalyst, ABC Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor, and is a regular guest on ABC local radio.

“We are hard wired to connect. When human beings who trust each other interact face to face, their capacity to have a positive cognitive effect on each other’s brain and body is something which no robot or screen has”.

TEDx: Look Into My Eyes

Changing Our Minds׃ How Great Leaders Rewire Brains

Good leaders alter the shape and size of workers’ brains – and their own.

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BUILDING
CAPACITY

Fiona believes in the capacity to create change in the world, and has advised governments in Asia, France and Australia on fostering creativity and innovation, neuro-leadership and futurising. She is currently state government and ministerial advisor in South Australia on a range of areas.

Fiona has also consulted a number of international companies; currently collaborating with Cirque du Soleil.

In addition, Fiona is consult to two of Australia’s largest companies (BUPA and CBA) and has worked for a number of years in the not-for-profit sectors of ageing and multiculturalism, presently sitting as vice-chair of the Catalyst Foundation board, a not-for-profit organisation for ageing, employment and disability.

“Under the right conditions we can grow new brain at any stage of our lives. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for learning and creative thought, not only in the workplace but in all facets of our lives”

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Over the years, Fiona has published numerous articles, been featured in many interviews on radio and in print, and given a variety of stimulating keynote presentations.

She draws attention to important human issues and how each of them impact us on a personal and global level.

Fiona is passionate about shifting people’s mindset and opening their eyes to their true potential. As an inspirational speaker, scientist and implementer, she will help you to understand how our brains function as human beings and our organisations and societies function as systems, providing practical approaches to maximizing our potential.

Contact Fiona

fiona.kerr@adelaide.edu.au

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