Cathy O’Dowd

Climber - First woman to reach the summit of the Everest from South and from Nord side

Fee Range: €/$ up to 10.000
Languages: English, Spanish

*Fee ranges are an estimation for a live keynote speech in an European venue, they can vary significantly depending on the specific requests of the clients, the type of performance, the preparation time and the travel time which is requested. Travel and accommodation costs are not included.


Cathy O’Dowd is a record breaking mountaineer and an incredible story teller.

She grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and since leaving school she has climbed both rock-climbing and alpinism.

She was terminating her Master degree in Journalism, while working at the university as a lecturer, when she saw an advert for a place on the first South African Everest Expedition. Six months later she became the first South African to summit Everest and three years later she became the first woman in the world to climb the world’s highest mountain from both north and south side.

The years she spent in the Himalaya, and the adversities she faced, were for her very helpful to discover insights about herself, the individuals and the teams under intense stress, in the face of overwhelming challenge, are ones she has been sharing with er corporate audiences ever since.

Cathy has been a professional speaker for nearly 25 years and has been on the stage of 45 countries on six continents. The Professional Speaking Association of UK/Ireland, gave her the highest award, the Professional Speaking Award of Excellence.

Besides her activity as a keynote speaker and as a climber Cathy is actively involved with charities focussed on female empowerment: the Rwenzori Women for Health project in Uganda and the Voice of Women Foundation in Germany.

She lives in Andorra, in the Pyrenees mountains. In her free time she does technical rock-climbing, ski-mountaineering, and canyoning.

What she offers

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.

Cathy’s great strength lies in combining her dramatic adventures with a coherent message to business. Her inspirational presentations entertain and motivate while reinforcing key principles of best business practise.

How she presents

Cathy is a fluent and passionate speaker, combining humour and drama, weaving a spell-binding story out of which she subtly draws her metaphors for achievement. All presentations are dramatically illustrated with photographs from the mountain.

Cathy O’Dowd has written two books about her Everest experiences:
Everest: Free To Decide, co-written with Ian Woodall
Just for the love of it



Think like an explorer

Reaching New Heighst

  • Leadership
  • Decision-making
  • Team Dynamics and Creating Effective Teams
  • Risk Assessment
  • Overcoming Obstacles
  • Motivation of Self and Others
  • Facing New Challenges
  • Goal-setting
  • Project management diverse teams


Just for the love of it

Related Speakers

David Coulthard

Former Formulan 1 Grands Prix driver

Seth Godin

Expert in innovative marketing strategies

Flavia Pennetta

Former tennis player - First Italian U.S. Open champion

Gregorio Paltrinieri

Olympic, world and European swimming champion

Giada Zhang

One of the most successful Italian young Entrepreneurs

Umberto Pelizzari

One of the most famous freedivers in the world

Simon Wheatcroft

Blind ultra Maraton Runner - Motivational speaker

Ranulph Fiennes

The world’s greatest living explorer

Alberto Alessi

International Design Manager

Alastair Campbell

Former Director of Communications and Strategy for Tony Blair - Writer - Strategist


Pleas use the form below to check the availability or to book Cathy O’Dowd