University of Melbourne Magazine

Being the best version of ourselves

  • By Val McFarlane

    Image of Lela McGregor

    Lela McGregor

    Lela McGregor (MMktg 2003, MAPP 2015) is passionate about positive psychology. She graduated from the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) in 2015, adding the discipline to the professional expertise that has seen her lead culture and engagement programs for more than 30 organisations across Australia and Asia.

    “I think everyone should study positive psychology. It changes the lens of how you work, learn, parent and live,” she says.

    “It’s not about being happy all the time because that is just not possible but it’s about having the wellbeing life skills that help us navigate through life’s many challenges, allowing us to be the best versions of ourselves.”

    McGregor studied business at RMIT before training as an accountant. She worked in marketing overseas and undertook a Master of Marketing degree at Melbourne Business School.

    But her subsequent studies in positive psychology – which has been described as ‘the scientific study of what makes life most worth living’ – have given her a fresh take on her work.

    “Working in the corporate landscape, I felt I knew what drove human performance and wellbeing at work but learning about positive psychology gave it a name and more importantly substance through the scientific evidence,” she says.

    “It is exciting to see that there is rigorous science that drives wellbeing and it is important to be able to show this as evidence to leaders to assist them to shape their business and employee strategies.”

    “…there is rigorous science that drives wellbeing and it is important to be able to show this as evidence to leaders.”

    McGregor studied the MAPP program while holding down a full-time job and raising three children. “I found I enjoyed MAPP so much that it actually helped me to be a better parent and leader.

    “I felt I was learning from leaders in the field. Not only were they teaching but they were researchers too. Whatever I learnt was current and relevant.”

    One of those leaders was Professor Lea Waters, the founding Director of the University’s Centre for Positive Psychology. McGregor and Waters collaborated on a wellbeing program called Positive Detective that has been rolled out to more than 300 schools in 11 countries.

    While she was studying, McGregor set up her coaching and mentoring business Splendour Labs.

    “My business is centred around getting people to uncover their ‘authentic self’ and distill what really drives their happiness. I use all the science I have learnt to help people achieve their authentic goals.”

    She has also established a not-for-profit organisation to help coach underprivileged individuals and give local communities access to wellbeing resources and workshops.

    And she was instrumental in bringing the 6th World Congress for Positive Psychology to Melbourne this year, which shone a light on the work of the Centre for Positive Psychology.