After more than eight years of work to push New Zealand to the forefront of global accessibility innovation and promote the conversation about the value to economies and societies of access citizens, Be. Lab founder Minnie Baragwanath has been appointed to lead the new hot-house for access innovation, the Centre of Possibility @ AUT, a sister organisation to Be. Lab.
As Chief Possibility Officer Ms Baragwanath will further the mission she has progressed in her work as founder and CEO of Be. Lab (formerly Be. Accessible), the New Zealand-based, globally networked centre for design and access innovation for the 21st century – through which she has formed partnerships with the likes of Microsoft, Sudima Hotels, ACC and the Ministry of Social Development.
At AUT Ms Baragwanath will work with AUT researchers to develop the world-leading Global Accessibility Index and collaborate with academics, local and international organisations, business leaders and policymakers to make the future accessible for all. This will include finding solutions for how people with access needs may experience the world and how they – and the other 25% of Kiwis who will have an access need at some point in life – may be supported towards full possibility.
To take on her new role, Ms Baragwanath is handing over the reins as CEO for social change organisation Be. Lab to Sue Russell, a design learning and sustainable development expert with a background in professional training and coaching in non-profits and social enterprises. Ms Baragwanath will remain closely involved with Be. Lab, having recently been appointed to the board.
Ms Baragwanath says, “My focus for this new role is to support New Zealand and global entrepreneurs in their accessibility and possibility frameworks. It is a really exciting time to be talking with an increasingly aware group of people and organisations around the world about how we can create an ecosystem that is inclusive, engaging and innovative.
“I think it is time to share experiences and knowledge in an authentic, non-judgmental environment so that we can work to enrich the possibility experience and offering to affect lives, economies and communities positively.”
Be. Lab chairman John Allen says, “We are pleased to have Minnie join the Be. Lab board as she expands her remit in the accessibility sector. With Sue and Minnie collaborating, we have two powerhouses working together on positive initiatives and global partnerships that will make a fully accessible society and economy a reality for all Kiwis, and put New Zealand on the map in a whole new way.”
The Centre of Possibility @ AUT will continue to work alongside Be. Lab and its founding Possibility Partners Microsoft, the Ministry of Social Development, ACC, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Sudima Hotels.
Ms Baragwanath says she sees this new chapter as a way to help access innovation flourish. “These are exciting times to be talking about the future of work and access entrepreneurship. One of our first steps will be to test and hack the tech I rely on to support my vision, and we look forward to sharing our research and news through 2020 and beyond.”
About the Centre of Possibility @ AUT
In partnership with AUT, Be. Lab has established the Centre of Possibility @ AUT on the central Auckland campus. AUT has also made a significant research commitment over the next 12 months towards the development of the Accessibility Index, a world-leading index for reporting on the experience of accessibility.
The Centre of Possibility @ AUT and the Be. Lab will collaborate on positive initiatives that help people with access needs thrive in the age of possibility, bringing together the world’s best thinkers, academics, scientists, political and business leaders and advocates to make New Zealand the most accessible nation on Earth.
Be. Lab founder and Chief Possibility Officer Minnie Baragwanath will focus on enabling leaders locally and globally to create conditions for access innovation to flourish.