Meet our latest Sydneysiders
World travellers with a world of experience
BehaviourWorks Australia (BWA) has hired two talented Sydney-based researchers to support our growing list of projects with NSW EPA (who joined us as a new partner in 2017) and the Office of Environment and Heritage.
Dr Annet Hoek and Dr Peter Slattery, from The Netherlands and Ireland respectively, bring with them a wealth of experience, research and behaviour change skills.
At the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Annet and Peter are working to support behaviour change for a better environment, such as reducing food waste and illegal dumping, and improving recycling rates and energy affordability and efficiency.
So who exactly are they, and what are they working on?
Dr Annet Hoek – from Holland to New Holland
Growing up in Holland, Annet started out studying industrial design and discovered that people, not materials, were where her interests lie. A keen race rower, she was interested in sports and human performance and changed her focus to biology. This led to a Masters in Nutrition and eventually a PhD in consumer research that focussed on behaviour change towards eating less meat and more sustainable protein rich foods.
A self-described ‘foodie’, Annet is passionate about food behaviours, especially sustainable food production and consumption. “We need to eat less; less food, less processed food and less meat,” she explains, adding that people often see diet, health and sustainability as separate issues when they are actually fundamentally linked.
Working as an academic and across a range of health, aged care and not-for-profit clients, Annet describes herself as a “pracademic” driven by real world impacts on behaviour. After years of consulting within the FMCG sector (fast moving consumer goods such as food and beverages), and seeing just how quickly that industry moved to meet consumer demands, she found this was sometimes at the expense of academic rigour.
“Ideally, a combination of sound research with industry’s consumer focus will help find solutions to the serious problems facing society’s demands for sustainable, nutritious food.”
And if we don’t get protein from meat, where will it come from? According to Annet, it’s insects. That’s going to require some serious behavioural change.
Dr Peter Slattery – an Irishman abroad
Born and raised in Ireland, Peter knew he wanted to travel abroad. Scotland was his first destination, where he completed a BSc in Applied Psychology from Heriot-Watt University. While there he realised that he could make people’s lives better through behaviour change. However, it wasn’t until he returned back to Ireland to complete a Master of Business Systems (MBS) in Information Systems from University College, Cork that he decided that technology would be increasingly important for enabling behaviour change.
Peter’s interest in technology driven persuasion led him to apply for a PhD in Information Systems at the University of New South Wales, so Sydney became his home. This PhD focussed on encouraging philanthropy and volunteering through websites.
Like Annet, Peter is very interested in translating research theory into practice and ensuring that his work has a positive impact on behaviour and society at large. He not only teaches behaviour change and effective altruism, he is interested, and active in, entrepreneurship for social good.
Though he is interested in using all channels for behaviour change to promote socially beneficial behaviour, Peter’s focus on using technology makes him a perfect fit for BWA. He believes that as people begin to spend more and more time interacting through technology it will become an increasingly cost effective channel for socially beneficial influence.