Keynote speaker Cathy O'Dowd is the first woman to climb Everest from both south and north sides. She has stood on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain four times, reaching its summit twice.
Mountaineer and keynote speaker Cathy O’Dowd is the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, from both its north and south sides.
The years she spent on or around Everest were for her a degree ‘in living’. The insights she discovered about herself, and about individuals and teams under intense stress in the face of overwhelming challenge, are ones she has been sharing with her corporate audiences ever since. She has been a professional speaker for 16 years and has presented her message to companies in 39 countries on six continents.
She is actively involved with charities focused on female leadership, notably the Wild Swans project of the Wilderness Foundation UK, of which she is a patron, and the Astraia Female Leadership Foundation in Germany, of which she is a founder and board member.
Cathy, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, has climbed ever since leaving school. She was completing her Masters degree in Media Studies at Rhodes University when she saw an advert for a place on the 1st South African Everest Expedition. Six months later she was the first South African to summit Everest. Three years later she became the first woman in the world to climb the mountain from both sides.
She has climbed Everest as the last minute ‘token woman’ team-member, and as an expedition leader. She has worked in partnership with a wide range of international teams forced to co-operate on popular routes, and has climbed on a team attempting a new route, the only expedition on the entire east face. She has faced the ‘worst storm in the history of Everest’ and the giant avalanches of the Kangshung face, and she has faced warring team members as ego ran rampant. She has experienced both the thrill of the summit and the reality of failure, and has paid the ultimate price with the loss of fellow climbers.
Cathy draws on this wide-ranging experience of teams under acute pressure attempting overwhelming challenges to create her corporate presentations. Her stories touch on themes of importance to anyone trying to get the best out of people.
See keynotes with Cathy O’Dowd