Debra Searle MVO, MBE is a truly inspirational woman. A professional adventurer, author, BBC presenter and gender equality advocate, Debra first hit the headlines when she set out to row across the Atlantic with her husband. Unfortunately he had to be rescued so Debra, a novice rower, continued alone and rowed 3000 miles from Tenerife to Barbados. It should have taken them six weeks but, to achieve her goal, Debra ended up spending 3 ½ months at sea alone, encountering 30′ waves, sharks, and force 8 squalls in her 23 foot plywood boat. Since returning from this adventure, Debra has gone on to undertake expeditions across the globe, including canoeing the Yukon River for a BBC documentary with Bruce Parry, sailing the Southern Ocean, and racing in the Monte Carlo Rally in a 1957 Alfa Romeo.
Yet Debra is more than your usual sports speaker. Despite poor performance at school, Debra found a way to tap into her potential and graduated from university with 1st Class Honours, founded her first company, a dot-com, at the age of 23 and second at 27. More recently Debra founded a diversity consultancy and training company which specialises in innovative corporate programmes. In 2015, Debra combined her two passions for adventure and gender balance by leading a team of 12 ordinary businesswomen on an expedition in the Arctic Circle as part of a wider corporate diversity programme.
Debra’s spirit of adventure gained her an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen and she was delighted to be appointed Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) for her services as a trustee for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. She is also a published author, newspaper feature writer, and has presented over 40 programmes for the BBC.
Debra’s overwhelming positivity and ‘go for it’ attitude are contagious, whilst her modesty is endearing. She regularly delivers both motivational and keynote speeches, using her Atlantic story and experience as an entrepreneur to powerfully but subtly draw out key business and interpersonal lessons.
Debra powerfully illustrates with slides and stunning video footage and leaves her audience in no doubt of their own ability to achieve the extraordinary.
Debra’s most popular keynote is ‘Choose Your Attitude!’ sharing the story of her remarkable row across the Atlantic following her former husband’s premature departure from their small wooden boat.
Debra speaks from the heart and with great humour about her personal journey of discovery and the strategies she used to keep going and now uses in her business life to help illustrate, in a very human way, what we are all capable of.
• Strategies for not just coping but excelling during periods of change
• Personal motivation and productivity
• Team work and positive relationships
• Achieving seemingly impossible goals
• Commitment and perseverance
• Personal performance when under pressure
• How to achieve against the odds
Customised for sales | leadership | dealing with change | motivation | team work
In this hard-hitting keynote speech Debra covers the topics of unconscious bias and diversity and inclusion, specifically focusing on Gender Balance in the workplace.
Debra brings the topic to life with amusing anecdotes and gracious stories about her own struggles with stereotyping. As founder of MIX Diversity Developers Ltd, Debra has worked with many organisations to create innovative programmes to increase diversity at all levels of the organisation.
Debra helps delegates to understand:
• What is unconscious bias
• How we can recognize it in ourselves
• How to build a more inclusive approach to work and recruitment
• Why ‘difference’ is good in business
• Steps to take to increase your gender intelligence as a manager
• How to sensitively speak up for diversity
Customised for: HR and recruitment | inclusive leadership | management conferences | women’s networks & events
Andrew Moody, Team Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim
Linda Johnson, Advisory Director at KPMG
Debra Westlake, Global Employee Comms Director at UBS
Matthew Wyles, Group Development Director at Portman Building Society
Event Manager at Pfizer UK
Chris Williams, Conference Manager at RBS
Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Middle East
Kate Cook, Sales Planning Lead at Nestle
Doug Harsema, Tresury Management at Huntington