Felicity Aston is a climate scientist, polar explorer, adventurer, expeditioner and world record-breaker. She is the first woman to ski across Antarctica alone and the first person in the world to have traversed the continent purely by muscle power. Felicity is a popular speaker, regularly sharing her expedition experiences with a vast range of audiences around the world, from corporate conferences and executive training to after-dinner talks and festivals.
About Felicity Aston
Felicity Aston expertly blends stories from her unmatchable expeditions with thought-provoking ideas and lessons that she has acquired along the way. With over twenty years’ experience of adventuring and taking on some of the world’s most extreme environments, Felicity believes that her achievements are the result of both physical and psychological journeys. She crafts each talk to accommodate any time frame and ensures that her presentations are always poignantly relevant to everyone in the room.
Felicity Aston instigated, organised and led the first British women’s team to cross the Greenland icesheet, the world’s largest and most internationally diverse women’s team to ski to the South Pole, and a team of women from across Europe and the Middle East that together skied to the North Pole.
Felicity has spoken widely about the profound loneliness she experienced while traversing Antarctica alone, and her personal battle to face, every morning, the extreme climate outside her tent. She reflects on cultivating the perseverance we must all call upon in moments of adversity. It is no wonder that, following lockdown, her tactics for dealing with this isolation, and her insights on reintegrating with society have resonated with many.
Felicity’s expeditions have also broken multiple diversity records. Her ongoing commitment to this cause has plugged data gaps and reshaped scientific understanding.
Moreover, she has published four books about her expeditions, co-presented two BBC documentaries, and been featured in top news outlets including National Geographic, Vanity Fair, and Marie Claire. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society in London and The Explorers Club in New York and has been appointed MBE as well as awarded the Polar Medal for services to exploration.
Previous clients include Google, National History Museum, HSBC, Microsoft, United Nations, Deloitte, Sky, TEDx, M&S Bank.
Alone in Antarctica -In 2012 Felicity became the first woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone. The 1084-mile journey took her 59 days skiing unaccompanied through a monotonous and hostile landscape. Describing her record-making expedition she reveals – with astonishing honesty – the fear, the doubt and the loneliness of the experience, reflecting issues many of us face on a daily basis. Felicity examines the sources of motivation that drove her forward day after day and talks about the importance of perseverance, sharing with her audience ways to cultivate this most vital of qualities when vulnerable and under pressure. Through her thought-provoking, highly relevant and often poignant talk, Felicity provides an insight into recognizing and developing the innate resilience within us all.
Call of the White – It is not unusual in today’s world for a team to be scattered over multiple timezones, incorporating a variety of cultures, levels of expertise and systems of work. How do you manage such diversity effectively? Felicity answers this question in her account of selecting, training and leading a team of women from countries as contrasting as Jamaica, Brunei Darussalam, Cyprus and New Zealand to ski to the South Pole in 2009. Many of the women had not spent a night in a tent or seen snow before joining the team. With refreshing insight Felicity presents a compelling story of adventure as well as a valuable perspective on modern leadership and dynamic team management
Polar Exposure – How can you prepare for what you don’t know is coming? In April 2018 Felicity led a novice team of ten women recruited from across the Middle East and Europe on a ski expedition across the fractured and constantly shifting sea ice of the Arctic Ocean to reach the Geographic North Pole – the top of the world. Complete with exhiliarating photography and film footage, this thrilling account of the team’s experiences on the ice and during the more than two years of preparation, explores risk management, decision-making and adaptive leadership in a fast and high-stakes environment; an environment in which the only certainty is change.
Pole of Cold: A Journey to Chase Winter ‘What does winter mean to you?’ This was the question that Felicity and her team sought to answer as they travelled more than 35,000km from the UK across Scandinavia and Siberia in a Land Rover Defender. Using images, stories, film footage and sounds gathered during the expedition, Felicity describes the people and places the team experienced as they headed into some of the most extreme winter climates in the world including the Pole of Cold, the coldest inhabited place on the planet where temperatures plummeted to almost -60C. What is the best form of transport when it is so cold that fuel becomes solid? How cold does it have to be before children stop going to school? And is it possible to hear your own breath freeze….?
Living in Antarctica: Have you ever wondered what it feels like to stand in the coldest place on Earth or to live without the sun for months on end? Packed with stunning images, this presentation creates a tangible impression of what it is like to live and work in Antarctica. Sharing her own experiences over-wintering, Felicity describes life on an Antarctic Research Station – the wildlife, the scenery, and the science. Completely isolated from the rest of the world for 7 months of the year, Felicity and her colleagues not only had to overcome the challenges of living in the most hostile environment on Earth but also of living with each other.
Crossing Greenland: The plan was simple. A 560km ski from the western edge of the Greenland ice sheet to the mountains of the east coast. Once there, specially adapted power kites would be used to harness the power of the wind and return across the ice. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas. This presentation tells the story of the first British women’s crossing of the Greenland ice sheet. Dragging food, fuel and equipment and travelling unguided, the Arctic Foxes skied over 1100km in just 31 days. Packed with high drama and nail-biting anecdotes, Felicity describes how the journey turned into a desperate race against time and resulted in a close shave on thin ice…
Racing to the Pole: Whatever our background and situation, each of us has our own personal aspirations but not all of us turn those ambitions into reality. In 2005 Felicity’s aspiration was to take part in the Polar Challenge, a 360-mile endurance race across Arctic Canada. Before her 3-women team could start the race they had to become fitter than they ever thought possible, learn new and complex skills, bond together as an efficient unit and raise enough money to cover the race costs. This is not just a tale of adventure but a demonstration of how clear goal-setting, the right attitude and perseverance can help everyone achieve their own life targets.
Siberia: Kate Marsden and the Miracle Herb In 1891 a young British woman set out on horseback into the remote taiga forest of north-eastern Siberia. Kate Marsden wasn’t an explorer but a nurse on a mission to find a herb that was rumoured to cure the most feared disease of the age – leprosy. 115 years later, Felicity and National Geographic journalist, Bernice Notenboom, travelled to Siberia to investigate the story of Kate Marsden. Using photographs and audio clips, Felicity describes their journey along the frozen Vilyuy river and their encounters with biologists, traditional healers, historians and shaman in an attempt to unravel the mystery of Kate Marsden and her miracle herb.
Siberia: Old Man Baikal Holding one fifth of the planet’s fresh water, Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest lake in the World. Over 1,800 species of flora and fauna living in its waters are found nowhere else on Earth and during winter its surface freezes to form a thick layer of beautifully transparent ice. Hidden deep in the Siberian wilderness, close to the Mongolian border few people live along its 700km length. Those that do, the Buryats, know the lake as Old Man Baikal and revere it as a living being, a centre of shamanic energy. Felicity Aston walked the length of Baikal across the ice, visiting lake shore villages along the way to learn more about the myths of the lake and the Buryat culture. Her talk uses unforgettable images as well as film footage and audio clips to transport her audience to this most ancient of wonders.
The idea of a Polar Expedition is used as a basis to explore the role and responsibility of a leader and to develop techniques of leadership. Students are split into small expedition teams and invited to organise their own (imaginary) polar expedition. Starting with the search for sponsorship, the teams are presented with a series of scenarios, each designed to highlight a particular leadership issue ranging from communication to integrity. Students take it in turns to fill the leadership role and to discuss their thoughts with the group after each activity.
Based on her own experiences as a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey monitoring climate and ozone, Felicity provides a real insight into the realities and importance of this enthralling continent. Through a number of engaging and fully interactive activities such as trying Antarctic clothing and designing a new Antarctic research station, students are introduced to the geography and character of Antarctica as well as to the issues facing those attempting to protect this irreplaceable wilderness. At the end of the workshop students have a better understanding of the science that takes place in Antarctica and why this work is of global importance as well as an overview of the factors that threaten Antarctica’s future.
Team Building Workshop
Using the multi-national team of the recent Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition to the South Pole as a case study, the workshop aims to highlight the characteristics of an effective team and give students the skills needed to work together effectively as a group. Students are guided through the principles of teamwork before being invited to put the theory into practise by forming small teams and embarking on an imaginary expedition of their own. The teams are presented with several challenges during their expedition which can only be solved by working together as a group.
"..a persuasive example of how determination, planning and sheer hard work can lead to the achievement of a common goal. We were left in awe."
Price Waterhouse Coopers
"Your messages truely resonated with our audience and their level of engagement was clearly illustrated by the number of questions asked."
"What she delivered met my expectations 100%"
"Your presentation was perfection; honest and thought-provoking. Just what the Doctor ordered!"
Sir Ranulph Fiennes