Debra Searle: Biography highlights

Debra Searle MVO, MBE shot to fame after rowing the Atlantic solo. She is a sought after motivational speaker, entrepreneur and professional adventurer who is convinced that learning to choose the right attitude can transform our work lives and our personal lives.

Known for:

Adventurers and Explorers
Sports Personalities

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Full biography of Debra Searle

Debra Searle’s background

Debra 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, she 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, she 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. She 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 aa 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.

Debra is renowned for her ability to tailor her speeches to clients’ needs. Having spoken at 1,000 events across every major industry including banking, consultancy, direct sales, healthcare and retail she has the expertise to understand the specifics of any industry and to craft her speech accordingly. She powerfully illustrates her message leaving her audience in no doubt of their own ability to achieve the extraordinary.

Recent Engagements / Achievements

  • Broadcast to 40,000 people as part of John Maxwell’s Live2Lead event
  • Received an Honorary Masters degree from Plymouth Marjon University
  • Was ranked as one of the world’s top 30 Motivational Gurus
    Current / Past Roles & Positions
  • Expert in resilience, leadership through change and motivation
  • Rowed the Atlantic single-handed
  • Served as a Trustee for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for 10 years
  • Competed at World Championship Level for GB Dragon Boating
  • Founder of 5 companies, including MIX Diversity Developers Limited
  • Founding member of the Businesswomen’s Network Forum
  • Presented over 40 programmes for the BBC, including Grandstand.
  • Received an Honorary Masters degree from Plymouth Marjon University and De Montfort University

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.

Debra’s tools for building resilience have been the perfect content for employees working from home during this Covid period. Perhaps this is why she has had her busiest first quarter in 19 years as a speaker. In Q1 she has presented virtually for Microsoft, Google, JPMorgan, Bank of America, Dell Technologies, Philips, Cisco and many more.





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Available for:

Guest Appearance
Panel Participation

Watch Debra in action

1/5 videos
Debra Searle Virtual Motivational Speaker Showreel / Sizzle / Demo Reel
Debra Searle Virtual Motivational Speaker Showreel / Sizzle / Demo Reel
Choose Your Attitude: Debra Searle at TEDxSalford
Choose Your Attitude: Debra Searle at TEDxSalford
Debra Searle - Female Keynote Motivational Speaker Showreel
Debra Searle - Female Keynote Motivational Speaker Showreel
HCL Sports Night - Debra Searle
HCL Sports Night - Debra Searle
Auto Trader UK

“There are good speakers, there are great speakers and then there is Debra Searle. I’ve never seen an audience so engaged, inspired and in touch with the messages that she shared.”

Matt Schofield
People Leader and Business Partner
Wolters Kluwer

“Our guests really enjoyed listening to Debra’s story –  it was brilliant to see them all so engaged in the journey.” 

Sarah Folley
Senior Marketing Executive
Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions

“The way that Debra linked her story and her life lessons back to business helped to make the whole event feel very connected and so much more powerful.” 

Katie Patterson
Business Manager

“Debra was so great and I love her enthusiasm. She’s an amazing virtual speaker – her camera framing and way of articulating and using her non-verbal were some of the best I have seen.”


”The way that Debra translates her experience into actionable day to day practices to change behaviour and get into a positive mindset is very powerful.”

Dr. Katja Buller
Vice President, Head of Corporate Affairs
Mail on Sunday

“Debra Searle is honest, open, warm, funny and friendly. She has a mental strength and determination that inspires and motivates all who meet her.”


We provided feedback forms to all participants and asked for a rating between 1 (poor) and 5 (excellent). We received 170 completed forms (60% of attendees) and Debra scored a ‘5’ from every single respondent. This is unheard of! The comments were all super, for example – ‘ Best speaker I’ve heard at an IBM event – outstanding!


“Debra’s Zoom call was so inspiring. She gave us such a great perspective, which is so valuable during these times. Honestly, I must say that Debra’s also a Zoom guru! It was so interactive, and she captivated all of us during the whole call.”


We have lost that precious ability to connect and yet you managed to have us all gripped in a virtual world."

Michael Lavelle
Head of Banking

Debra's speaking topics

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