CATHY O'DOWD - Mountaineer
Cathy O’Dowd is the first South African to climb Everest and the first woman in the world to climb the world’s highest mountain from both sides. She was a member of the team that did the first ascent of Nanga Parbat via the Mazeno ridge. She is an alpinist, rock-climber and ski-mountaineer, and has climbed around the world over many years. She most recently completed a ski ascent of Mount Logan, the second highest peak in North America.
The place where the worlds of mountains and business meet is with people: ambitious people tackling overwhelming challenges in high-risk, high-stress environments. These are people whose natural ability can push them towards competition rather than collaboration, yet who need to function effectively in tight-knit teams.
In mountains, as in business, there is much about the external environment that cannot be controlled. The place where we can most easily and quickly improve our effectiveness is in the attitude of our people - how focused, motivated and efficient our teams are.
Conversely, the most common problems that lead to teams falling apart are also of our own making. Most success speakers don’t talk about how wrong it can go, but Cathy shares the ways in which people create their own disasters and shows how to overcome them, refocusing teams to climb to summit success.
Her stories of failure are told with humour and refreshing honesty. Her stories of success are dramatic and memorable, and the tools she highlights are as important in normal life as they are on the mountain.