Debra’s calls herself a professional adventurer – she hit the headlines when she rowed the Atlantic solo but since then has also sailed around Antarctica, canoed in The Yukon River Quest, and cycled in l’Étape du Tour…need we say more?!
In a likeable and approachable manner Debra seeks to challenge delegates thinking with her motivational speeches, and is truly passionate about what she does. Having delivered over 800 speeches worldwide she uses insight from her sport and business experience to inspire delegates to ‘Choose Your Attitude’ so that teams are left with motivating key messages and strategies that can be used in their day to day working life.
A list of Debra’s achievements include being awarded a First Class Honours degree, launching three companies, winning World Championship medals for Great Britain, presenting over 40 programmes for the BBC, becoming the youngest ever trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, publishing two books and successfully rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Debra also runs a diversity training & consultancy business, helping organisations maximise the opportunities present in a diverse workforce and customer base and also speaks enthusiastically on these topics.
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 3,000 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 foot waves, sharks and force 8 squalls in her 23 foot plywood boat.
Debra’s story is captivating and she holds her audience from the moment that she walks on to the stage.
Not just a woman with an interesting story, Debra walks the talk in the business world having started her first company aged 24. On stage, Debra openly and honestly shares the highs and lows of her life in business: the fear of that ‘big pitch’, the disappointment when a project goes awry, and the exhilaration of a job well done.
Unlike many speakers on the circuit with a sports background, Debra connects with business people because she is one!
Debra sat on the board of trustees for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for over a decade, managing a portfolio of £10 million. She was also a founding member of the Women’s Business Network Forum, which meets out of Buckingham Palace quarterly as is chaired by Sophie, HRH The Countess of Wessex.
The Forum brings together leaders of some of the biggest women’s networks in the UK including BP, Ernest & Young, Merrill Lynch, HSBC and Google to share best practice and provide a platform for innovative debate.
With over 14 years of experience as a corporate speaker, you can trust Debra to deliver your key messages to your people.
She has tailored speeches for every business eventuality, including mergers, rapid growth, recession, team-building and inclusive leadership, and has addressed people from all walks of life, from members of the Royal Family, through Board Directors and CEOs to staff in branches and on the ground.
KEY SPEAKING TOPICS
Debra’s most popular keynote speeches are;
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
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 work place.
Diversity and Inclusion can be a very dry topic yet it is essential to best business practice. 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
“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!”
Andy Moody, Boehringer Ingleheim
“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, 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, UBS