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Ilona Boniwell

Director of Positran

BACKGROUND / Academic and professional background

Dr Ilona Boniwell is one of the world leaders in positive psychology, having founded and headed the first Masters Degree in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) in Europe at the University of East London. Nowadays, she teaches Positive Leadership and Positive Performance at l’Ecole Centrale Paris, writes a monthly column for Psychologies (UK and Russia), and consults around the world as a director of Positran. Her main teaching expertise lies in the areas of positive psychology and positive scholarship, with research interests around: subjective time use, time perspective, eudaimonic well-being and applications of positive psychology to business, one-to-one work and education.

Ilona founded and was the first Chair of the European Network of Positive Psychology (ENPP), and was subsequently the member of its Steering Committee for many years. She organised the first European Congress of Positive Psychology in June 2002 (Winchester), starting a successful tradition of bi-annual events. She was the first Vice-Chair of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA) and has been continuingly the member of its Board of Directors since 2007. She is on the Board of Directors for the Francophone Association for the Development of Leadership, on the Expert Advisory Board for the Action for Happiness, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Health and Human Development, University of East London, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, the RSA and the Wellington College, the first ever secondary school to teach well-being lessons.

Ilona is the author of Positive Psychology in a Nutshell (2006/8, PWBC; 2012, Open University Press), co-author of The Happiness Equation (2008, Adams Media), Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Applications (2011, Open University Press), Well-Being Lessons for Secondary Schools (2012, Open University Press) and a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Happiness (2013, Oxford University Press). She is the Positive Education series editor for Springer and is currently working on two new books, Positive Leadership (forthcoming in 2014, Payot) and Motivated Adolescents (forthcoming in 2014, Odile Jacob). She acted as the main consultant for and appeared in the BBC2 series The Happiness Formula (2006). Her other media work included Guardian, Times, Top Sante and Cosmopolitan articles and interviews, as well as radio and TV interviews for BBC 24, BBC London and other channels. She regularly blogs as one of the expert leaders on the Psychologies website. She frequently addresses psychology and professional audiences at national and international conferences, having delivered hundreds of presentations and workshops.

Ilona is passionate about practical applications of positive psychology to business, education and one-to-one helping-by-talking practices. Ilona consults organisations and educational institutions around the globe as a director of Positran, a boutique consultancy specialising in the applications of evidence-based methodologies to achieve lasting positive transformation. She has developed a comprehensive well-being curriculum for the Haberdasher’s Federation of Schools and was funded by Newham PCT to develop and evaluate a SPARK Resilience Programme for secondary schools in the borough. Her other clients included L’Oreal, Mars, Alpro Soya, MindGym, Cassan and local and national governments. She worked for the Government of Bhutan to develop a framework for happiness-based public policy at the request of the UN, in her capacity as a member of the International Expert Working Group for the New Development Paradigm.

Ilona received her PhD from the Open University. Her previous academic career included teaching at Oxford Brookes University, City University and the University of East London.

ACHIEVEMENT / What is the project / initiative / startup / company you will be presenting at the LH Forum all about ?

I will present the educational projects of Positran, drawing on the work for the UN and government of Bhutan and various educational projects to increase school children’s well-being around the world.

LOCATION / In which  part of the world do you conduct your activities ?

My company Positran is located in Paris.
I conduct my activities in France, England, Singapore, Japan, Portugal, Bhutan and other countries

 IMPACT / What is the positive economic, social, political, environmental impact of the activity / project / initiative /  startup / company ?

The impact was demonstrated in reducing depression and anxiety and increasing well-being and life satisfaction of school children in England, France and in Japan.

QUOTE / A saying, quote or reference phrase that tells something about you

“I believe that happiness cannot be a concept “owned” by any professional group, be it psychologists, economists, policy makers or even philosophers. Happiness cannot be defined in a narrow way, based on any one theory, research study or opinion poll, but must be studied from multiple perspectives. Happiness cannot be associated solely with an individual’s passing state of mind, but needs to be seen as a profound connection with the world as a whole. Happiness cannot remain only at the level of theory, but must initiate action. Happiness should be lived daily, through small ordinary steps and mundane daily acts”.