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Michael McGrath leads a remarkable life – his story is one of consistently overcoming incredible odds. British born with a cocktail of Irish, Brazilian and Germanic roots and educated by the Jesuits, Michael McGrath describes himself as the black sheep of his family; most of them are in medicine. He is a catalyst for change and a champion of difference. In 2004, Michael made history by becoming the first and currently only disabled person in the world to have successfully led expeditions to both the North and South Poles. Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group said "Michael is an inspiration”.
Michael himself is first and foremost a family man; a father to his daughter and husband to his wife. At the age of 12yrs, Michael wanted to be a professional golfer. At 15yrs, he dreamt of becoming the General Manager of the Savoy Hotel in London. At 16yrs, he was a keen rugby player at Stonyhurst College (a flanker by trade!), an independent Catholic boarding school founded in 1593 (guided by Jesuit principles), whose motto "Quant Je Puis" (As Much As I Can) is central to McGrath’s own Reach Beyond ethos and Can-Do spirit. At 18yrs, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a deteriorative muscle wasting disease that remains the single biggest genetic killer of children in our world – in that moment, Michael’s life instantly changed forever.
He is in demand as an inspiring motivational business speaker. He travels extensively, provoking, stimulating and inspiring change for both private and public sector organisations. Clients include PwC, the NHS, Shell Petroleum, Barclays, Roche Pharmaceuticals, HBOS, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Lloyds TSB, DHL Global, Hilton International, Credit Suisse, Shaw Trust, Capital Resourcing, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Carillion Transport, Shoosmiths, the Cabinet Office, Motorola, Medtronic Inc, Remploy, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, various UK public sector organisations including County Councils and Housing Associations, as well as many places of learning from Ashridge Business School (one of the world's leading business management colleges) to junior, secondary and special education needs (SEN) schools.
Michael continues to influence and change the mind-sets of thousands of people through speaker engagements, ad hoc consulting projects and bespoke masterclasses, giving clients a platform to creatively leverage key business objectives. Today, his greatest power is his emotional force to not only inspire action but help organisations motivate their people.
Michael is also a specialist disABILITY adviser to the hospitality industry, with a focus on revenue generation. An Oxford Brookes Alumnus, he graduated in 1988 from the internationally recognised Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management. Described by a leading figure in the hotel industry as the Jeremy Clarkson of the Hospitality World, he occasionally writes for professional industry journals. Within the hospitality sector past clients have included Hilton Hotels UK & Ireland, for whom he was exclusively appointed the disABILITY Champion (a figurehead role in the business) for which he was engaged for 4 years.He is a judge on the industries prestigious Cateys Awards.
He continues to accumulate a wealth of experience by working with a diverse range of organisations and audiences in the corporate, not-for-profit and educational world. Together with his achievements, commercial acumen and growing media profile, his measured pragmatic style and process of engagement helps clients to connect both emotionally and intellectually. When not speaking or consulting, he’s raising funds and awareness to support The Muscle Help Foundation, a UK registered family charity (Reg Charity No. 1096716) that delivers Muscle Dreams, designed to provide amazing experiences to the 75,000 children & young people in the UK afflicted by muscular dystrophy. He is the co-founder and CEO, and is affectionately known as the Chief Muscle Warrior.
In January 2004, Michael returned from Antarctica, having successfully led his team to the South Pole. In doing so, he made history by becoming the first and currently only disabled person in the world to have successfully led expeditions to both the North and South Poles – he reached the North Pole in April 2002. Leadership, courage and trust combined with resolute self-belief, confidence, teamwork and a singularly focused obsession towards achieving desired outcomes were critical success factors – Michael draws on these experiences, giving wider business and life lessons.
He received global support and endorsements including entrepreneurs such as Sir Richard Branson, actors, media presenters and adventurers such as Kenneth Branagh, Michael Palin, Chris Bonington and Jon Snow of C4 News as well as many from the world of disability including the Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs at the European Commission in Brussels where he has also spoken.
In recognising and valuing difference – Michael McGrath was included in The Queen’s 2004 Christmas Day television broadcast to the nation from Buckingham Palace reinforcing the importance of diversity as a strength. In 2005, he received the prestigious Business Traveller of the Year Award presented to him by Kate Adie in Dubai. In December 2011, Michael was invited by Her Majesty The Queen to attend a Royal Reception at Buckingham Palace (timed to mark the 100th anniversary of Captain Robert Scott’s final expedition to the South Pole) for those involved in Adventure and Exploration.
In August 2012, Michael was a Paralympic Torchbearer proudly carrying the flame on one of its final legs to the Olympic Stadium. He currently sits on two boards: 1) the Legacy Board for the newly formed Hertfordshire Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Partnership representing disability sport across the county and 2) as an Executive Board member for the Hertfordshire Sports Partnership (HSP). Michael is also a committed BRIT Mentor – the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) is engaging with leading figureheads from across the country and from all sectors to pledge time to provide inspiration and mentorship to transform the lives of Young People Facing Adversity.
In the words of Alexandra Shackleton, one of his South Pole Expedition Patrons, Michael continually demonstrates, like her grandfather Sir Ernest Shackleton, the qualities of optimism, courage, imagination and strong leadership – his polar achievements are extraordinary triumphs of physical and mental endurance, and should serve as a reminder to us all that, in Michael’s own words … “our limits are often far beyond where we may assume them to be”. To book motivational and overcoming adversity speaker Michael McGrath call Executive Speakers Bureau 901-754-9404.
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