Petra Velzeboer

Petra Velzeboer is a renowned psychotherapist, TedX speaker, author, and CEO of mental health consultancy PVL.

Petra’s vision for the new world of work focuses on dynamic leadership, success in a hybrid world, and creating space for skill development to enhance forward momentum.

Petra’s background of being raised in a notorious cult and seeing many similarities in the world of work today, drives her to challenge outdated work practices and usher in a new way of working.

In her signature keynote talk, Petra challenges companies to shift their focus and prioritise investment in human capital, wellbeing, and mental health.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.

I was born and raised in a cult but of course as a child I didn’t know what that meant. My experience was partly happy with lots of music, community and a shared mission. I grew up in countries like Brazil, India, all over Europe, Russia and Kenya and didn’t go to school as a child as our mission was seen as more important and of course, the community believed the world was going to end so it never made sense to invest in our future. 

After many years of leading a double life I moved to London, pregnant with my son. I was now 23 with a young son, living a good life on the outside with my boyfriend but on the inside I descended into addiction and depression. 

After several rock-bottom moments I began the slow journey of building up my life up and eventually training as a psychotherapist, working in youth mental health and then corporate wellbeing.

Tell us something about your initiative/business. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?

My business was actually built from frustration – I didn’t set out to be a business owner. I kept working for wellbeing type companies and found that they were talking a good game and advising others how to live their lives and improve their culture, but often they were toxic themselves and not doing what they told others to do. 

This finally made me quit my job and start my own business PVL – where the main thing we aim for is to practice what we tell others to do. 

We educate people on what wellbeing and mental health at work really mean – how this isn’t a nice to have but intrinsic to business success.

While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?

As an extrovert I found switching to doing everything remotely hard. Very quickly we made our webinars and workshops interactive and dynamic, but the experience of sitting at home doing keynotes to hundreds of people but just sitting in my living room was really draining and difficult. 

I also have two teenagers who were navigating school and exams so as a parent it was difficult to know how to support them when we just didn’t know how things were going to play out.

Professionally though, the wellbeing topic skyrocketed globally and we were able to reach many more people with our message virtually than we could in person. My team is fully remote and was mostly built over the pandemic years so we’ve learned to adapt together and build a mentally healthy culture completely remotely.

What has been the response of the users/consumers towards your venture? 

The companies we work with are ready to create a more sustainable approach to wellbeing in their workplace. While of course we’ll sometimes start with an awareness day, but we help companies learn how to build momentum off the back of these days so that wellbeing and mental health are not just conversations that happen once a year but are intrinsic to our interactions at work. 

We have a very uplifting and practical approach to this topic. Our clients and fans love that we make a sometimes heavy topic into something relevant and practical for their lives now. I’m also excited to be a judge at this years Make a Difference wellbeing awards and to have my first book coming out in May 2023

How has your life changed because of your initiative/venture?

I’ve learned so much along this journey – it’s definitely been much harder than I thought it would be – but then, most things worth having take some effort. 

I love being a visionary and innovator but I’ve also had to learn finance, performance, scaling etc. I’ve also had to make some brave decisions that have moved us from good – which seemed fine but my body just wasn’t in flow – to being great, saying how I feel to the team, listening and pivoting so that things become more aligned again. 

I still work mostly remotely even though I make sure to travel to deliver keynotes and meet as many of my networks in person as possible in order to manage my own health and wellbeing.

Do you have anyone who is the biggest support system in your life? Please let us know.

I’ve had a lot of mentors and advisors along the way – people who have supported my vision at different stages of my life. From therapists and coaches to friends and mentors, I’ve developed the skill of asking for help and usually people like helping 🙂

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity? OR Share a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.

My mantra used to be ‘the best revenge is living a good life‘ – it got me away from the victim mentality and allowed me to take radical responsibility for my future. However now I don’t need the word revenge, my message is simpler: Practice bravery every day!  

People think some people are brave and some are not – however I’ve learned that it’s a skill we can train and with that skill, we can continue to create great things

Here’s where you can get in touch with her: