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Cathy O'Dowd speaker

Cathy O'Dowd

    • The First Woman to Climb Everest from Both Sides
    • Awarded the Professional Speaking Award of Excellence
Full Bio
In Person-Fee 🛈

$10,000 - $15,000

Virtual Fee:

$7,500 and Under

Travels From


Cathy O'Dowd: Think Like An Explorer - going where no one has gone before

Cathy O'Dowd: Think Like An Explorer - going where no one has gone before

Cathy O'Dowd Speaker Biography

Cathy O’Dowd is the first woman in the world to climb the world’s highest mountain from both its north and south sides. Her first ascent of Everest happened in the midst of the chaotic events that form of the basis of the ‘true story’ behind the Hollywood movie Everest.

Cathy, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, has climbed ever since leaving school, both rock-climbing and alpinism. `Her first expeditions were to central Africa and the Andes, followed by a year exploring the Alps.

She was completing her Master's degree in Journalism while working as a university lecturer when she saw a newspaper advert for a place on the 1st South African Everest Expedition. Six months later she became the first South African to summit Everest.

Three years on she became the first woman in the world to climb the mountain from both sides. She made one last expedition to Everest to try a new route on the Kangshung face. She has written a book about her Everest experiences, Just For The Love Of It.

The years she spent in the Himalayas 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.

Her stories touch on themes of importance to anyone trying to run successful projects and get the best out of people.

Cathy has been a professional speaker for over 20 years and has presented her message to companies in 45 countries on six continents. She is a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association of UK/Ireland, who have given her their highest award, the Professional Speaking Award of Excellence.

Cathy’s most challenging Himalayan epic was as part of a team attempting a new route on an 8000 metre peak. Although Cathy herself did not reach the summit, two of her teammates did, doing the first ascent of Nanga Parbat via the Mazeno ridge, and winning the prestigious Piolet d’Or for their achievement.

She has turned this experience into a fascinating interactive case-study of successful project execution of truly innovative goals.

Cathy is actively involved with charities focused on female empowerment, notably the Rwenzori Women for Health project in Uganda, and the Voice of Women Foundation in Germany. She is also a jury member for the European Adventurer of the Year award.

Think Like An Explorer

A dramatic story of managing uncertainty while navigating a new route
 in the high Himalaya. Cathy has turned this extraordinary experience into a case-study of the challenges of being a pioneer, and she takes the audience with her in this interactive presentation.

Your people will be on the team, experiencing the uncertainty, participating in the key decisions and living with the consequences.  An adventure keynote experience unlike anything you have seen before.

Reaching New Heights

The place where mountains and business meet is with people: ambitious people tackling overwhelming challenges in high-risk, high-stress environments – high achievers whose natural ambition drives them to competition rather than cooperation, yet who need to collaborate effectively in high-performing teams.

With honesty and humour, Cathy shares the ways in which we create our own disasters and shows how we can overcome our mistakes, refocusing teams to push upwards to summit success.

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