Dr Ellen Joan Ford
Known for: Revolutionising the working world through #WorkSchoolHours

It’s not every day that you come across a true champion of change. A scholar, a visionary, a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done kind of badass. And also a dedicated mother of two. That’s Dr Ellen Joan Ford; speaker, facilitator, consultant, and most recently, author of #WorkSchoolHours: A Revolution for Parents, Workplaces, and the World. More than just a reputation-building tool, this book is the foundation of Ellen’s positioning – and the first step in a grassroots movement that aims to make work work better for everyone.


We’ve been honoured to partner with Ellen for over a year now on her journey through thought leadership, book writing, and publishing. Here’s how it’s all unfolded.



The fire behind Ellen’s “terrifying” ambition

Ellen began her career in the NZ Army, later finished an MBA and a PhD, and has worked in leadership positions for large organisations throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. Amidst a busy career, Ellen started a family – and started to feel even more acutely the incompatibility between parenting and working.


“We are expected to work as though we aren’t parents,” her mantra goes, “and parent as though we don’t have jobs.” The result of this paradox, she found, is too many talented parents dropping out of the workforce, too many organisations facing retention and productivity nosedives, and ultimately, inefficiency that hurts both business commercials and employees.


But Ellen didn’t just notice this impossible and frustrating double-standard – she decided to actually do something about it.


As Ellen describes in her TEDx talk on the #WorkSchoolHours movement, “I am terrifyingly ambitious about changing the working world.” And over the last year of partnering with Ellen, that much is clear. Our entire team is in agreement: she’s the real deal.


Putting the ideas to ink

When Ellen came to us, she had 30,000 words of research, stories, lived experiences, and concepts compiled. She had written it all down in a matter of days nearly a year prior – but while it had been on the backburner, she knew that the ideas were good, and important, and needed to be shared. It was time to make it happen.


Christina worked closely with Ellen, together embarking on the deep, crunchy work to get the manuscript tighter, clearer, and into a more compelling structure. The focus of this stage wasn’t to change her ideas, but instead to probe further, to challenge and align all of the thinking that went into the book so that it was air-tight and prepared for a wide readership.


As the manuscript came closer to becoming a polished work, it was clear that Intelligent Ink had met an incredible thought leader. Not only was the work she was doing making things better for people, but she was also committed to putting her thinking and expertise out into the world in a way that others could benefit from. Ellen wasn’t just on a mission to build a stronger business, but she was on a mission towards real-world impact – and we were excited to be supporting and helping navigate that path.


Luckily, the timing coincided with Intelligent Ink’s new experimental hybrid publishing branch, designed specifically for thought leadership authors. #WorkSchoolHours was an obvious choice to be our inaugural publication, and Ellen agreed.


After months of new learnings for our team and new partnerships formed, we were so proud to help Ellen present her book at the official #WorkSchoolHours launch in Auckland on March 22, 2024.


Going from book to impact

#WorkSchoolHours is a grassroots movement. The book is not steeped in marketing from a household-name publisher, nor is it being pushed from the top down into disinterested hands. Instead, it’s the ideas within the pages that hold the power. #WorkSchoolHours is designed to spread and grow naturally, by the people for whom it was written. It is meant to be passed from mum to mum, handed over to bosses to spark a conversation, gifted from one entrepreneur looking for a better way to another. 


To help this process out, Ellen in leveraging the ideas in #WorkSchoolHours in other ways too. In addition to speaking on the subject at international conferences, she has also launched two courses – one designed for parents and the other for people leaders. Excellent companions to the book, these courses help distill all the knowledge and practical advice in the book into a more active format. 


We continue to support Ellen’s ongoing activity surrounding the book and the continued building of her thought leadership. The principles, frameworks, and commercial viability of #WorkSchoolHours are already gripping business leaders and teams – and, in fact, have become a guiding light in our own work structures (whether it’s taking time away, working flexible hours, or tuning in to meetings from the other side of the globe).


As Ellen’s ideas spread, so too will her impact on parents, on organisations, on team culture, and on the whole-freaking-world. And that is the power of leading with your thinking, of becoming a thought leader, of bravely sharing the ideas you know the world needs.


Order the paperback of #WorkSchoolHours right here on Ellen’s website:


Or get access to the eBook or audiobook via Amazon, Spotify, GooglePlay, or on your preferred platform.