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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Emily Humphreys


Emily Humphreys has worked in, or along side, technology start-ups her whole career. Now she solves problems – wicked problems.

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With a Masters Degree in Science Technology Commercialisation from the University of Adelaide, Humphreys co-founded and became CEO of Wicked Lab in 2015 following a decade of consulting, marketing, management and entrepreneurial roles.

Wicked Lab finds solutions to complex or “wicked problems” in the social purpose sector by working with organisations, governments and communities through education programs and an online tool that creates and measures systemic impact.

Wicked problems are hard to resolve, take place in a unique context, have many interconnected root causes. They may include place-based disadvantage, climate change, poverty, ageing populations and obesity.

The company has trained more than 60 people across the globe and supported client projects in the Netherlands, New Zealand and across Australia.

Humphreys, 37, was last month named a winner in the inaugural InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards.

We caught up with the city resident to ask her some about doing business in South Australia.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

The lifestyle in Adelaide is second to none. I live, work and send my children to school in the CBD. This means our lives are free of long commutes and we have more time for living. I feel grateful that in a globally connected world, being able to do business from anywhere means I can choose this lifestyle for my family while still being able to run a business doing projects that tackle big hairy wicked problem across the world.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

Wicked Lab’s early success was found outside of South Australia, with our first client from the Netherlands. While this was exciting, it was disappointing that local support for our approach was thin. The weakness we’ve found is that we can be a little insular in our thinking and resistant to new ways of thinking. We are incredibly grateful to the few SA early adopters that were willing to take a different approach to addressing wicked problems.

Do you see your future in South Australia?

I love SA and, in particular, I love living and working in the Adelaide CBD. I see a future for myself and my family in the CBD, highly connected to the place and people we live next to and work with.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

I think creating opportunities to build strong links and connections with national and international networks is key to keeping young people – particularly entrepreneurs – here in  SA.

More about 40 Under 40

An assessment panel representing the South Australian business community judged hundreds of nominees for the inaugural 40 Under 40 awards, which aim to identify and promote a new generation of local leaders under the age of 40.

The final 40 includes a hugely varied collection of South Australian talents, who are making a mark in fields such as health, technology, the media, property, social innovation, agriculture, finance, the law, and much more.

For the full list of 40 Under 40 winners go here.

40 Under 40 is an InDaily initiative supported by the following partners:

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