Derek is the founder of Aera, a charitable trust investing in causes and companies addressing social issues in imaginative ways for a better New Zealand. Aera's activities include young leadership fellowships, tackling child hunger, advocating for drug policy reform, and encouraging civic engagement. The foundation last year catalysed Aera VC, a community of family investors backing social-impact startups. Derek launched the fund at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania the same day he was named 2016 Social Innovator in Residence.
Before Aera, Handley was Founding CEO of The B Team, an advocacy collective co-founded with Sir Richard Branson bringing together global icons promoting sustainable and socially oriented business including Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, father of micro-finance.
This year, Aera was the event partner to bring Branson to New Zealand, hosting gatherings with leading Kiwis about using their platforms for social good. In April, Aera also hosted Professor Yunus's first trip to the country to meet with government, iwi, investors, educators and entrepreneurs who are actively seeking ways to use the engine of business to solve some of our country’s social challenges.
Derek recently joined New York-based social impact startup studio Human Ventures as its Chief Innovation Officer, building companies and founders to help them become the most purposeful they can be.
Derek has helped found multiple digital media and technology companies and is currently a member of the Air New Zealand Sustainability Advisory Panel (NZX:AIR), an Adjunct Professor, a director at Sky Television (NZX: SKT), a former NZ EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year and a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leader. He is also an aspiring astronaut with Virgin Galactic, hoping to rocket off to space in the coming years.
From a New York base Derek returns to New Zealand frequently throughout the year.
About being involved in What Next?
"I think for New Zealand, to have a national conversation about- what does the future look like, or what could it look like - is one of the most powerful conversations we could have. Really everything in the future is meant to be helping people live a meaningful life. So if we’re grounded in the right values as New Zealanders and protect those, and fight for them, then we’ll create and shape the future that we deserve. ”