The 36-year-old royal has spoken on numerous occasions on his struggle to come to terms with the death of his mother Diana. Photo: AFP, POOL NEW/Reuters
The 36-year-old royal has spoken on numerous occasions on his struggle to come to terms with the death of his mother Diana. Photo: AFP, POOL NEW/Reuters

Tech executive? Here’s exactly what Prince Harry’s new role will entail

By The Washington Post, Bang Showbiz Time of article published Mar 24, 2021

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The Duke of Sussex is the newest employee of BetterUp, a Silicon Valley start-up, the Wall Street Journal reported.

As part of his new role, Prince Harry will advocate publicly on topics related to mental health and will also be involved in initiatives including product strategy decisions and charitable contributions.

The 36-year-old royal has spoken on numerous occasions on his struggle to come to terms with the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in a car crash in 1997 when he was 12 and once admitted that he almost suffered a "complete breakdown" as he grew up determined not to think about the loss.

BetterUp "brings together world-class coaching, AI technology, and behavioural science experts" to help people "live more meaningful, vibrant lives," according to the company's website.

It works with corporations to identify employees who could benefit from coaching and gives them "a personalized path to growth - so you're able to tap into the employees most prepared to transform your business."

Harry, who has been vocal about his struggles with mental health, has been working with one of BetterUp's coaches and using the app himself. But his unusual background apparently made filling out the initial multiple-choice questionnaire a bit of a challenge.

"I realise I'm an outlier so there's no need to get the engineers on it!" he told the Wall Street Journal, 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."

Harry's role within the company doesn't involve supervising direct reports, according to the paper.

He is set to provide input on product strategy and corporate giving. It also means that the Duke of Sussex will serve as a public face of the company, which touts its partnerships with the likes of Hilton, Google and Lyft.

Harry joins the executive team as BetterUp continues its rapid growth. Founded in 2013, the company touts a network of more than 2,000 coaches, with several big name businesses among its clients, including Hilton, Warner Media and Chevron.

The company claims it has served more than 100 000 members since its founding and has more than 270 employees.

As organisations and the broader public have become more attuned to mental health and wellness, employers have turned to a variety of resources to offer up to their staff, including online mentoring and counselling.

Last month, BetterUp raised $125-million from investors, valuing the company at $1.73-billion. The latest financing round was led by Iconiq Growth and included existing and new investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures.

All told, BetterUp has raised $300-million, which investors have said the company will use to fuel its international growth. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, chief executive Alexi Robichaux said the company is eyeing an initial public offering but did not provide a timeline.

Harry's role within the company does not involve supervising direct reports, according to the Journal. He is set to provide input on product strategy and corporate giving while serving as a public face of the company.

The duke has long campaigned for mental health awareness and has spoken openly about his struggles following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, when he was 12. In an interview with the Telegraph in 2017, he said he sought therapy after he "shut down all emotions" during two decades of grief, and also took up boxing in an attempt to help manage his anxiety.

In recent years, he has called out the British tabloids for relentless negative coverage of his wife, Meghan, who said in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey that she had experienced suicidal feelings as a result of unfounded reports in the media and from life in the royal spotlight.

Since relocating to California, the pair have embarked on commercial ventures, including a podcast deal with Spotify valued at an estimated $25-million and a partnership with Netflix rumoured to be worth $100-million. It is not known how much Harry is being compensated by BetterUp.

Harry's new corporate job "is a business move," royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told The Washington Post, but one that is consistent with the duke's focus on mental wellness.

"The response in Britain, where the response to his and Meghan's 'bombshell' interview on Oprah divided the generations, is likely to claim that he is cashing in on his royal status," Fitzwilliams said. While anything the Sussexes do is likely to be met with hostility in the British media, he added, "their main aim is to enhance their brand in the United States and the wider world."

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