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Cathy O'Dowd  Adventurer, author & acclaimed Motivational  and Inspirational 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.

She has been on the mountain 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 O'Dowd's presentations combine adventure, drama, failure and success, sharing with you lessons learnt from one of the world's most spectacular challenges:

Cathy weaves together the literal adventure of the climb and the metaphorical challenge of reaching for the peak of achievement, sharing her stories of challenge, adventure, passion for life and the reality of death. Her inspirational keynotes focus on self-motivation, risk-assessment, team dynamics, leadership, and tackling seemingly overwhelming challenges.

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.

Key topics
One team, one aim
Passion for the process
Courage to make your own choices
Determination in the face of disaster
Fully integrate all talent within the team
Motivation through recognition

Cathy O' Dowd  Adventurer, author & acclaimed Motivational and Inspirational speaker 

Cathy O' Dowd  Adventurer, author & acclaimed Motivational and Inspirational 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 18 years and has presented her message to companies in over 40 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. She is also a holder of the CSPGlobal designation, which indicates recognition by peers and clients of global speaking competence and experience.

Cathy O 'Dowd remains an active adventurer. This summer she will be disappearing into the wilds of northern Patagonia on skis. Her last Himalayan epic was in the summer of 2012 when she teamed up with two top British alpinists and three Sherpas to attempt 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 wining the prestigious Piolet d’Or for their achievement.

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, and working as university lecturer, when she saw a newspaper 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.

Following the expedition the South African government passed a Resolution congratulating Cathy and her fellow team members, and saying that: “Cathy O’Dowd joins illustrious women in South Africa who are demonstrating that women have come into their own and are contributing to the many glories achieved by our nation.”

Cathy O 'Dowd has been on 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.

Cathy O’Dowd has written two books about her Everest experiences, Everest: Free To Decide, co-written with Ian Woodall, and Just for the love of it, translated into German as Aus Liebe Zum Berg. Just For The Love Of It was recently re-released in a new e-edition, with an extra chapter, telling the story of her attempt to climb a new route on the east side of Everest.

Cathy O' Dowd is actively involved with charities focused on female leadership, notably the Wild Swans project of the Wilderness Foundation UK, and the Astraia Female Leadership Foundation in Germany.

In her free time she does technical rock-climbing, ski-mountaineering and trail-running. Cathy O’Dowd is currently living in Andorra, in the Pyrenees mountains, while she pursues her speaking career, and explores the mountains of Europe.

Cathy O' Dowd  Adventurer, author & acclaimed Motivational and Inspirational speaker 

Your speech was excellent! The feedback to your speech was extremely good and positive. The story was great, the speech was exciting, fitted to our situation, you were in time… In total: Perfect! 

Vice President, orporate Marketing & Communications, manroland AG, OFFENBACH

The response ... has been overwhelmingly positive…. the audience found your story thoroughly compelling and the way in which you weaved in our messages was superb. I can only express my sincere thanks on behalf of everyone here for helping to really bring the session to life. 
Consumer Marketing Manager, Allergan Medical, TENERIFE

Der Programmteil mit Frau O'Dowd war wirklich beeindruckend - Sie haben es ja selbst miterlebt - und wurde von allen Teilnehmern als äußerst motivierend und inspirierend empfunden. Eine weitergehende Auswertung hat es nicht gegeben. Richten Sie bitte unseren Dank an Frau O'Dowd aus. 
Event Organiser, Tetra Pak, MUNICH

It was a great inspirational presentation. I have really enjoyed listening to you, Everybody was really impressed. 
VP Marketing & Sales, Sara Lee International Foodservice, ANTALYA

It was a pleasure to hear your faszinating experiences. all colleagues were very impressed of your presentation and all of them catched your message, everyone in his own way (private/professional). 
Assistenz der Geschäftsführung/CEO, Betapharm, AUSBERG

The feedback from Sonae people was fantastic and they are very touched with your message. [The booker] told us that you were the best Speaker of the day! He was really impressed with you. 
Speaker Bureau, on behaf of Sonae, PORTO

an impressive presentation 
ING Bank, AMSTERDAM

Initial feedback... is very positive... more than one delegate described [your talk] to us as the best conference presentation they had ever experienced. 
Project Manager, RCGP Wales

The conference went well. Cathy did a fantastic job and we had a positive feedback from all. 
Vice President Sales & Marketing, CSC, SHANGHAI

Thanks for a fantastic job last week. The team really enjoyed the presentation as well as the time you spent with each of us talking thru your experiences. We were able to fit a lot of the themes into the rest of the week – especially the focus on ambition. The combination of fantastic pictures, your personal style and a simply amazing story provided for an experience the team will not forget. 
Vice President Global Inside Sales, SAP America, BARCELONA

You did an excellent job in sharing your experiences in a high-performing team and provided some really good insights. 
Head of Marketing Emerging Growth Markets, Novartis Oncology, ISTANBUL

It was a pleasure having you on the programme again, the participants were truly impressed. 
Programme Manager, Executive Education London Business School, LONDON

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