Prince Harry gets new job of chief impact officer with Silicon Valley startup

The Duke of Sussex has a new job with a Silicon Valley start-up, where he intends to “create impact in people’s lives”.

Prince Harry, 36, has been named chief impact officer of BetterUp, a coaching and mental health firm founded in 2013.

It is the latest in a string of appointments for the Duke who, along with the Duchess of Sussex, has signed lucrative, multi-year deals with Netflix and Spotify.

He is expected to get involved with product strategy decisions and charitable contributions as well as advising on topics related to mental health. He was offered the role after being introduced to Alexi Robichaux, BetterUp’s CEO, through a mutual friend last autumn.

“I intend to help create impact in people’s lives,” the Duke told the Wall Street Journal. “Proactive coaching provides endless possibilities for personal development, increased awareness and an all-round better life.”

Robichaux said: “It’s a meaningful and meaty role.”

It comes after Catherine St-Laurent, the chief of staff and executive director of the Sussexes’ non-profit organisation, the Archewell Foundation, left her fulltime role after coming to the end of her contract.

St-Laurent, a former adviser to Bill and Melinda Gates, was hand-picked by the couple last April and resigned from her role advising Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures social progress project in the US to take up the post.

Archewell said the bilingual strategist had “transitioned to an advisory role” and would continue to advise the Sussexes through a new social impact firm she was founding.

St-Laurent is being replaced at Archewell by James Holt, the Sussexes’ UK communications secretary. They have also hired Ben Browning, an Oscar-nominated producer, to be the foundation’s head of content.

It is not known whether the Duke will be paid for his new role with BetterUp.

The Sussexes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Robichaux said Harry would be joining the company’s leadership team as an “officer of the corporation”. Although he will not manage employees, he is expected to spend some time at the company’s San Francisco headquarters when lockdown restrictions ease and participate in all-hands meetings.

He is also expected to appear at special company events and has already participated in a strategy meeting, advising on how to position a product in terms of resilience and overcoming adversity.

Robichaux said the Duke “comes from a very different background” to other executives, adding: “He’s synonymous with this approach of mental fitness and really investing in yourself. It was not a hard internal sale. He will obviously have the whole organisation sprinting to help him.”

Speaking about improving mental fitness, the Duke said: “This is about acknowledging that it isn’t so much what is wrong with us, but more about what has happened to us over the course of life.

“Often because of societal barriers, financial difficulty or stigma, too many people aren’t able to focus on their mental health until they’re forced to. I want us to move away from the idea that you have to feel broken before reaching out for help.”

BetterUp features a network of more than 2000 coaches and its platform is used by several large companies, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Chevron and Salesforce.

The Duke revealed he had been using BetterUp’s app and a coach for a couple of months, and said filling out the initial questionnaire was a bit awkward because his background did not fit a multiple-choice list of questions.

“I realise I’m an outlier so there’s no need to get the engineers on it,” he joked, adding: “I was matched with my coach who, quite frankly, is truly awesome and has always given me sound advice and a fresh perspective, which is so valuable.”

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