Kelly Monahan

Managing Director of the Future of Work Research Institute, Upwork; Former Director of Future of Work, Meta; Organizational Behaviorist
Speaker: Kelly Monahan smiling with a brick wall and leaves in the background
  • Upwork's director of future of work who designs research programs that provide data-driven insights to help solve the workplace challenges of today and tomorrow
  • Champions a people-first approach to the future of work that is being mirrored by top companies across the globe
  • Investigates the human side of workplace evolution and shares actionable strategies for creating workplace experiences that power the growth of organizations and the individuals within them

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A globally recognized leader in the field of future of work, Kelly Monahan is the mind behind some of the world’s leading companies’ efforts to bring the workplace of the future into the present. As the Managing Director of Upwork’s Future of Work Research Institute, Monahan is the architect of first-of-their-kind research programs — the findings of which are used to inspire workplace transformation at the world's top organizations and help them radically shift how they think and operate in order to unlock new avenues to success for their talent and business. 

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Monahan introduces audiences to the human side of workplace evolution as she draws from her firsthand research to reveal current and future trends that are shaping the workplace and provide decision-makers with the information, tools, and resources they need to understand and meet the needs of their employees now and in the future of work. She points to key data that will provide the stimulus for improving people-related decision-making in the workplace, and discusses the role of technology as organizations rework their talent strategy. With a philosophy rooted in an unshakeable belief in human potential, Monahan’s people-first approach to the future of work is intended to help organizations arrive at their own personalized solutions to fostering more purposeful workplace experiences for all.

In her current leadership role at Upwork, Monahan is responsible for leading the organization’s data analytics and insights and advising top executives on how to incorporate those findings to augment the employee experience and create mutually beneficial workplace-worker dynamics. Her key focus areas include remote worker health and growth, developing best practices for distributing team effectiveness, and designing equitable workplace experiences for all. Monahan is no stranger to leading future of work initiatives at global companies. Prior to Upwork, she served as Director of Future of Work at Meta and as Principal Director of Global Talent Research at Accenture, where she provided expertise and counsel to executives and decision-makers on workforce of the future issues. Before that, she was the lead future of work researcher at Deloitte. In her early career, Monahan held roles as a human research manager, marketing analyst, media manager, and media planner.  

An expert whose daily work is laying the foundation for a future of work that works, Monahan has been recognized and published in both applied and academic journals, including MIT Sloan Management Review and Journal of Strategic Management. In addition to being the author of How Behavioral Economics Influences Management Decision Making, she has written more than a dozen publications, is a TEDx speaker, and is frequently quoted in the media on talent decision-making and other aspects of the future of work. In her own words, her research is driven by her desire to make our workplaces more meaningful.

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Speaker Video

Future of Work: Hiding in Plain Sight | Kelly Monahan | TEDxHartford

The Future of Management | Wharton People Analytics Conference

People First: Leadership Insights for Navigating the New Realities of Work. As a globally recognized leader in the future of work field, Kelly Monahan shares the answers for how leaders and decision-makers can create the best-possible future of work within their organizations. In this talk, Monahan pulls insights and evidence from her research in the field of organizational design to offer data-backed strategies that will help leaders understand and meet the needs of their employees, seamlessly tie together the human- and tech-driven aspects of workplace evolution, and build teams that are equipped for high performance within and beyond the walls of the organization. Monahan is the architect behind leading companies’ push toward the workplace of the future, and she provides a step-by-step breakdown for how any organization can adopt and adapt to create more purposeful, productive, and inclusive workplaces that are mutually beneficial for their people and their businesses.

Closing the Generative AI Gap in the Workplace. Conversations around Generative AI have been focused on the effect it will have on processes and productivity, but what is the human impact in the workplace? As a future of work expert with her finger on the pulse of how emerging technologies are transforming the workplace experience, Kelly Monahan leads an in-depth exploration into the evolution of artificial intelligence technologies and their impact on the workforce. In this fascinating keynote, she dispels the hype and myths surrounding ChatGPT, Midjourney, and other Generative AI technologies, and, instead, anchors the talk on the organizational behavior research that is emerging as a result of these technological advancements.

She draws from her leading-edge research, which has been published in Harvard Business Review, to present an actionable framework for how organizations can incorporate AI alongside their workforces. In particular, she points to the latest data on AI adoption rates, required skills for implementation, and some of the most common challenges for adopting new technologies in the workplace. Monahan emphasizes that Generative AI offers tremendous opportunities for ushering in a new, more productive and innovative era of work, but requires a complete redesign of how workplaces and teams are structured in order to realize its true value. The best practices she shares will support leaders in unlocking greater human ingenuity in their workforce today. 

Trends That Will Define the Future of Work. While leading organizational behaviorist Kelly Monahan may not have a crystal ball, as Upwork’s Future of Work Research Institute managing director, she designs innovative research programs that offer insight into the ways in which organizations can create their desired workforces of the future. Monahan’s industry-leading research encompasses both the human side of workplace evolution, as well as the latest innovations in tech (such as automation and artificial intelligence) and the ways in which they intersect to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. In this forward-looking discussion, she outlines the top trends that will impact organizations in all aspects of the future of work — from team building and talent strategy to leading hybrid teams and fostering more diverse, equitable, and inclusive spaces, Monahan explains what these trends mean for leaders and their teams, and advises on customized tools, resources, and tactics for integrating them into a successful organizational strategy.

Gen Z in Focus: Empowering and Integrating the Next Generation of Trailblazers. With Millennials being firmly established in the workplace, the attention has turned to Gen Z and how organizations can harness their talents, as well as create cross-culture collaboration within their teams. In this talk, Kelly Monahan, a future of work leader at Upwork, explores the motivations, preferences, and values that define Gen Z employees and examines how these characteristics can be optimized to create attract, nurture, and retain top Gen Z talent — and integrate them into the workforce.

As the first fully digital-native generation, Gen Z workers bring their own unique perspectives, strengths, and expectations to any space. They are tech-savvy, have a passion for social impact, and desire work-life integration. With all of that in mind, Monahan equips leaders with the insights they’re looking for in order to better understand demographic shifts, the challenges Gen Z faces in the workplace, how Gen Z workers are transforming organizational dynamics, and strategies for helping them reach their full potential at work.

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