During New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) annual culture survey in 2019, the findings included a request to focus more on people’s wellbeing.

Rachel Baxter, NZTE’s Director of People & Capability, had spoken to her team about using the organisation’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in 2018, and noticed the need to remove the fear around talking about mental health. She and a couple of other team members created a video on the topic, and a ripple effect began with people interested to talk more about mental health at work.

As New Zealand’s international business development agency, NZTE is dedicated to growing global business and providing investment opportunities for this country’s exporters, with a dedicated team of 650+ dispersed across 46 global locations. As the global economy continues to change, NZTE knew it needed to grow the mental wellbeing of its team members to support their own resilience to these external pressures.

In the search for expert help, Rachel says Umbrella was the obvious partner. “We chose Umbrella because its specialist expertise is organisational mental health within a corporate environment. Umbrella is focused on working alongside us to embed, integrate and bring to life managing mental health at work in a way that uniquely suits our organisation.”

In 2019 NZTE’s Lead Team confirmed wellbeing and mental health as a priority area under their new strategy. Rachel and the team chose to go slowly in their approach, discovering that people needed to build competence and confidence in the topic to start with, and piloting different training options.   

“Working with Umbrella through the discovery phase was a great learning experience for both of us. It was great to have the Umbrella team there to support us with their expertise and knowledge, tailoring whatever action we needed to take with what worked for our organisation. It was a real partnership.”

The pilot was run over a number of months, involving 120 team members based around the world in people and capability leadership roles, along with other team members interested in mental wellbeing. 

The pilot included workshops about mental health awareness, and how to support their teams and their own mental health; Zoom video meetings with leaders to bust mental health myths and misconceptions; a two-day masterclass intensive training course for leaders around how to manage mental health; and a range of internal communications and activities about mental health at work.

“Throughout the pilot the team at Umbrella understood the corporate world, the changing world of global business, and the ambiguity and complexity of managing mental health across teams – especially one with people based around the world, and the stresses that come with that. Umbrella’s guidance and strategies are always practical and pragmatic, not just about what works in theory.”

As a result of the pilot’s work, in March 2020 NZTE’s Lead Team confirmed an implementation plan to continue building their people’s capability with both self-serve resources and training options. “Our work with Umbrella has continued that mental wellbeing ripple effect, which is really exciting. We will continue to work alongside Umbrella to develop our next steps and roll them out for all our people.”

“Gaynor is committed to working alongside us, partnering with us to create solutions tailored to our organisation, using Umbrella’s expertise and flexing its content to achieve the outcomes we need. She does that in an immensely approachable, non-judgemental, pragmatic and entirely intentional way. Gaynor is absolutely intent on supporting us on our wellbeing journey.”


“As a trainer, Steve is the right fit for our business, with the ability to create a safe space while talking about mental health in a relatable and pragmatic way. His style of combining empathy and scientific fact, along with his international experience, resonated well with our leadership team and expat staff in particular. Our people left Steve’s workshops with tips that are relevant to their work and their lives.”


“Karen has a lovely, grounded presence. She holds a training workshop in a calm, caring way that lets people express and share openly, while still bringing to discussion facts and frameworks that support them. We have a very diverse team, with strong personalities, but Karen made them all feel OK with where they were at and ensured they left with new and useful knowledge. That’s an awesome skill.”