Debra Searle MVO MBE

Unconscious Bias Speaker, solo Atlantic rower, professional adventurer, Founder of MIX Diversity Developers Limited

Debra Searle MVO MBE first hit the headlines when she set out to row across the Atlantic with her husband.

Unfortunately he had to be rescued so Debra, a novice rower, continued alone and rowed 3000 miles from Tenerife to Barbados.

It should have taken them six weeks but, to achieve her goal, Debra ended up spending 3 ½ months at sea alone, encountering 30' waves, sharks, and force 8 squalls in her 23 foot plywood boat.

Since returning from this adventure, Debra has gone on to undertake solo & team expeditions across the globe, including canoeing the Yukon River for a BBC documentary with Bruce Parry, sailing the Southern Ocean, and racing in the Monte Carlo Rally in a 1957 Alfa Romeo.

Yet Debra is more than your usual sports speaker.  

Debra has founded 5 companies including MIX Diversity Developers, a diversity consultancy and training company which specialises in innovative corporate programmes such as the LeasePlan Women’s Arctic Challenge.

Her spirit of adventure gained her an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen and she was delighted to be appointed a trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2003, the youngest and only female trustee working alongside His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.

Debra has been appointed a Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) for her services to the Award.  

In the next few years, Debra will be making frequent trips to Hollywood as the movie telling the story of her Atlantic row is currently in development.

OVERVIEW OF DEBRA'S IWD PRESENTATION (this can be adapted to be relevant for all-female groups, or mixed groups. Debra will also tailor her content according to the seniority of the audience and the UB theme)

It’s no exaggeration to say that Debra has experienced her fair share of pre-judgements because of her gender, from being expected to do the cooking whilst her husband rowed the Atlantic, through to being mistaken for a member of the waiting staff at one of her first official engagements at Buckingham Palace.

Using these anecdotes alongside the inspirational story of her successful trans-Atlantic solo row, Debra addresses the themes of gender balance and unconscious bias, leaving her audiences feeling inspired to take action and work for equality & inclusion.


eBay “Thanks for a fantastic motivational speech at the eBay Women’s Network event! Everywhere I went yesterday I heard people saying how amazing your talk was. Truly inspirational.”

Deutsche Bank “Thanks for this marvellous opportunity to have Debra with us yesterday – we could not have wished for a better start to launch our external speaker series for our female network.”

BAM Nuttall “Great to see inclusion and diversity being given a high profile. Guest speaker Debra Searle was a star turn – don’t think I’ve ever seen an industry audience paying such rapt attention.”

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