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Debra Searle MBE

Debra Searle MBE was catapulted into fame when she rowed solo across the Atlantic in a 23ft plywood boat. Derba’s 3000-mile journey took a staggering 3 ½ months and saw her battle with 30-foot waves, force 8 squalls and sharks. As an exceptional keynote and after-dinner speaker, she consistently scores maximum marks at every organisation she speaks for and displays a work ethic she can only attribute to her can do attitude and willingness to succeed.


About Debra Searle MBE

Debra Searle MBE was hailed as a ‘sporting heroine’ by The Times when the media went crazy for her story. She became instantly known 5ft 5” young lady who carried on rowing when her 6ft 5” husband, an experienced oarsman, developed an uncontrollable fear of the ocean. Debra, however rowed on and became the youngest and only the third ever woman in the world to have rowed a ocean solo.


Debra Searle MBE oozes positivity and optimism, and through her talks she shares her highs and lows, personal battles and victories, to help illustrate in a very human way what we are all capable of. Her main themes are how to stay motivated, adaptable to change, overcoming obstacles, excelling outside your comfort zone, how to improve team-working through encouraging one another and how to choose the right attitude, however impossible the end goal may seem.  Not just a woman with an interesting story, Debra Searle started her first company aged 24 and her second aged 27. She is a Managing Director, the only female and youngest Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a published author of two books and regular newspaper feature writer.

Debra’s ease in front of the camera, drive and enthusiasm has led to a number of TV presenting opportunities outside of the adventure arena. As well as presenting on BBC Grandstand, Debra has also presented ‘Big Strong Boys’ and ‘Builders, Sweat and Tears’ on BBC1 Daytime. She has completed work for CBBC Education, was the subject of a documentary for BBC ‘Extreme Lives’ and presented ITV’s Southampton Boat Show.

Debra powerfully illustrates her speech with slides and stunning video footage and leaves her audience in no doubt of their own ability to achieve the extraordinary both individually and collectively. She sets herself apart from other speakers with her level of commitment to each project.

Taking the time to ensure she fully understands the conference themes and gathering company and industry specific information allows her to tailor her presentation to the client’s exact requirements. Debra Searle MBE has worked with an incredible number of high-profile organisations including IBM, Unilever, BT, UBS, Microsoft, Nokia, AMP and Pfizer.

Speech Topics
  • Change
  • Motivation and productivity
  • Team work and positive relationships
  • Achieving impossible goals
  • Commitment and perseverance
Booking Information


"Debra’s presentation was perfectly aligned to our event objectives. Clearly Debra’s achievements are amazing and interesting in themselves. More importantly, Debra has the ‘human touch’ and connected well with everyone in the audience. She held the audience from start to finish and balanced humour with more serious messages. She scored 5 out of 5 from every one of the 170 delegates. This is unheard of!"

Client Director, IBM (IBM have booked Debra a further 8 times)

"Debra was very motivational, great on goal setting and having the right attitude of mind. An inspirational story and a great role model particularly for women in our team."

Johnson & Johnson

"People in attendance were captivated by Debra's talk and a number were very keen to stay on beyond the scheduled hour to ask questions and talk some more. She definitely hit the spot and took us with her on her journey – I know for a fact there were more than a few tears in the room when she showed the video clip of her return to dry land."


"She was excellent. The time taken by Debra to understand our business really paid off. The best thing about her was her humility and also her willingness to stay and chat to the audience."


"We held a conference for 1400 business people with Mikhael Gorbachev, Rory Bremner, Nick Leeson, Murray Walker, John Simpson and Debra as the speakers, and the delegates voted Debra Veal the best."

Mike Firth, CE of The International Business Convention.

"Debra was excellent. The time taken by Debra to understand our business really paid off. The best thing about her was her humility and also her willingness to stay and chat to the audience."

Karen Allen, Head of Communications, Portman Building Society

"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 do. She definitely hit the spot and took us with her all the way on her journey."

Debra Westlake, UBS Global Employee Communications Director

"Debra was excellent and very inspirational but not in a cheesy way. I really felt that I could relate her experiences to my working day."

Director, Ernst & Young

"I have never heard a better speech, anywhere, in any context."

Alan Farnsworth, President, Bausch & Lomb EMEA

"I have never heard a better speech, anywhere, in any context."

Bausch & Lomb EMEA

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