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Cathy O'Dowd

Teamwork & Leadership on the slopes of the world’s highest mountain International

Goal achievement
Overcoming obstacles
Motivation / inspiration
Risk management
Project management
Leadership in uncertainty
Surviving a VUCA world
Change management
Risk management
Effective project management
Team dynamics


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. Her first ascent of Everest happened in the midst of the chaotic events that form the basis of the ‘true story’ behind the Hollywood movie Everest.

The years Cathy spent in the Himalaya 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 written a book about her Everest experiences, Just For The Love Of It. Her stories touch on themes of importance to anyone trying to run successful projects and get the best out of people.

Cathy’s most challenging Himalayan epic was as part of team forging 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 has been a professional speaker for over 20 years and has presented her message to companies in more than 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.

Cathy is actively involved with charities focused on female empowerment, notably the Rwenzori Women for Health project in Uganda, and the Astraia Female Leadership Foundation in Germany.

She lives in Andorra, in the Pyrenees mountains, from where she pursues her speaking career, and explores the mountains of Europe. In her free time she does technical rock-climbing and ski-mountaineering.

Key Facts

Countries Performed In

  • 47

Clients Past & Present

  • Deloitte
  • World Bank
  • CWT
  • Daimler
  • BearingPoint
  • Roche
  • Microsoft
  • Toyota
  • Novartis
  • Credit Suisse
  • Nestle
  • Vodafone
  • DHL

Talk Time Duration

  • 50 minutes