Debra Searle MVO, MBE

England, United Kingdom
My Fee Ranges
    5k to 10k

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About Debra Searle MVO, MBE

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.


My Specialist Subjects

Choose Your Attitude!

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.

Messages include:
• 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

Be The Change

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


“What can I say? You were simply phenomenal! I had no doubt as to the impact that you would have, however what I did not expect was the scale of the impact. Your presentation was perfect. I could not have envisioned a more motivational and appropriate speech to such a (sometimes!) cynical audience. I can safely say that you have touched the hearts and minds of 338 people sitting in that auditorium. The feedback was simply awesome!”

Andrew Moody, Team Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim

“We have had so much positive feedback about your talk and your friendly interaction with the guests was fantastic, so thank you very much. When I got in to the office today everyone was talking about what their attitude was going to be for the day!”

Linda Johnson, Advisory Director at KPMG

“People really valued the fact that Debra is able to draw parallels between her adventure experiences and her working/daily life, having run her own companies – and that she does so in a way that is personal to her and offered simply as a thought to the group rather than drawing sweeping generalised conclusions and laying them down as law in the way some speakers can.”

Debra Westlake, Global Employee Comms Director at UBS

“Thank you so much for your contribution to our Sales Management Conference – you were a huge success and unanimously voted as the highlight of the day. One of the issues with athletes or others who have achieved something extraordinary is that it is not always possible to relate back clear lessons for us mere mortals to learn. We didn’t have that problem with your presentation. So, not only was it fascinating, gripping and emotionally draining – it was relevant to every single person in that hall.”

Matthew Wyles, Group Development Director at Portman Building Society

“In our group of 140 people, I have heard nothing but positive comments. Debra spoke to the audience in a way that captivated them, she managed to relate her journey to our business and her triumph in the face adversity did inspire so many of those in the room. At dinner, after the speech, the guests were asked what they had learned from Debra and to write this on a card that they were given. Absolutely everyone was energised and enthusiastic about what they had heard and what this can mean for them. Please would you pass on my thanks to Debra, she was a first class speaker and a complete professional.”

Event Manager at Pfizer UK

“RBS just wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences yesterday. You showed such passion and determination but balanced with humility and awareness of those around you. I have listened to many speakers and have found that although the message is good they can often come over as too ‘slick’ and scripted. Whilst you presented in a highly professional manner, I felt you were speaking from your heart and that what you spoke about still meant a lot to you.”

Chris Williams, Conference Manager at RBS

“I work with a very multi-cultural group (26 nationalities), this story resonates whatever your background. Debra was very motivational, great on goal setting and having the right attitude of mind. An inspirational story and a great role model particularly for women in our team.”

Managing Director, Johnson & Johnson Middle East

“You’ve clearly had a massive impact on our Division as nearly a week later and people are still talking about it! ‘One of the best speakers we’ve ever had’, ‘I can’t stop telling people about Debra Searle and how inspirational she is’, ‘The best thing about the event? Two words: Debra Searle’. We’ve never had feedback like it for a guest speaker!”

Kate Cook, Sales Planning Lead at Nestle

“Yesterday was likely the most successful day the Huntington team’s ever had at a conference, and we owe that to you. Your speech is the most talked about thing at the conference, and we are thrilled to connect the Huntington brand to you and your remarkable story. What really made yesterday special was the connection you made to the Huntington team. You became part of us. In the booth, at the reception, and at our late night “briefing” you built a relationship with the team and our customers they will never forget. The Huntington team will leave Fusion inspired and motivated by your story, but even more importantly will take home a personal connection you allowed us to make. Many people know your story, but the Huntington team can now say they know you – that’s what made yesterday truly special. Start to finish, you were brilliant. You made us a stronger team, and I am forever grateful.”

Doug Harsema, Tresury Management at Huntington

Clients I've Worked For

  • Airbus
  • American Express
  • Babcock
  • Bacardi
  • BAE Systems
  • Bayer
  • Boots
  • BT
  • Deloitte
  • Dyson
  • eBay
  • EDF
  • EE
  • EY
  • Ford
  • Fujitsu
  • Gillette
  • Google
  • GSK
  • HSBC
  • Huntington
  • IBM
  • Investec
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • KPMG
  • LeasePlan
  • Lloyds
  • M&S
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Microsoft
  • Mondelez
  • Nestle
  • Nike
  • Nokia
  • PayPal
  • Pfizer
  • Procter & Gamble
  • PWC
  • RBS
  • Reuters
  • Roche
  • Royal Mail
  • Sainsburys
  • Shell
  • TED
  • Tesco
  • Twinings
  • UBS
  • Unilever
  • Vodafone
  • Walmart
  • Whirlpool
  • Zurich
  • name a few!

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