Paul Wood, Dr

Spent 11 years in jail. Now a Leadership speaker, business coach and Psychologist

Ted Talk

Would you have a Doctor of Psychology present at your conference? What if he had spent almost 11 years behind bars?

As an 18-year-old, Dr. Paul Wood was completely off the rails. He wasn't coping with the impending death of his mother, he was dependent on drugs, and was an unemployed high-school dropout who was committing crimes to feed his habit.

Two days after his mother died he lost control when his then drug dealer attempted to sexually assault him. Paul was convicted of murder for this offense and then spent more than a decade in some of New Zealand's toughest prisons. During this period Paul became the first person in New Zealand’s history to progress through undergraduate and Masters degrees while in prison. He was also the first person to begin a Doctorate while incarcerated.


Paul's educational pursuits dovetailed with a journey of personal exploration and change, both of which would see him leave prison with an awareness of the fundamental issues that people face when trying to create real change, the best techniques for helping people achieve their goals and cope with adversity, and a deep understanding of how to make the most out of a bad situation.

On his release, Paul was able to translate this knowledge into strategies for improving business and personal performance within organizations while working as a senior consultant and manager in the field of leadership development and organizational psychology at OPRA Consulting New Zealand. Paul is now the director of Switch Coaching and Consulting and What’s Your Prison? He is a member of the International Coach Federation ICF, Positive Psychology Association, and serves as a steering committee member for the Coaching Psychology Special Interest Group, CPSIG.

Paul now spends most of his time working with senior leaders and organizations across both the private and public sectors to help them reach and maintain peak performance. He also works with troubled teens to help them identify and successfully pursue their dreams. As a keen athlete himself, he also assists sportspeople more consistently and effectively maximize their potential.

Paul's presentation style is dynamic, humorous, and deeply authentic. He speaks to the human experience and provides practical insight on topics such as our capacity for change, how to cope with uncertainty, how to build mental toughness and hope, the importance of self-reflection and personal accountability in growth, how to identify and maximize our potential, and how to turn adversity to your advantage.


In 2019 published his personal story "How to escape from prison"

If you're looking for a speaker who will challenge your audience and push the boundaries of the 'everyday world we live in' look no further!

Dr. Paul Wood – B.A. Philosophy & Psychology; M.A. Psychology; Ph.D. Differential Psychology