Inspirational Speaker

Are you looking for someone to help motivate and encourage your team? I have 20 years of executive level experience in Fortune 50 companies. Using mountaineering as a metaphor, I will help get your teams excited about the challenges ahead.

Recent Events

Scientific Exploration Society

London, England
October 30, 2018
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Arc’Teryx and Discover Outdoors

New York City, New York
June 13, 2018
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Fjällräven and The Explorers Club

New York City, New York
February 21, 2018
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Past Events


“Vanessa simply stole the show at the Conference that attracted more than 100 top CEOs from the eading corporate organisations from Pakistan. She spoke about her unforgettable experience as the first British or American woman to conquer K2.  She shared how leadership is often a risky, lonely role, but how successful CEOs, like Expedition Leaders, succeed by recognizing and surviving the dangers that challenge them as they take themselves and their teams to higher levels.  Vanessa’s examples tested under the most brutal conditions on the most difficult summits, was an eye-opener and her talk remained the most discussed keynote of this high-profile event.”

Arif Anis Malik
Presenter, Author and Attendee

CEO Club Pakistan’s 16th CEO Summit
Dec 11, 2017
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LAST NIGHT WAS SUPER!!!! Vanessa–you are far more than a mountaineer.  Your intellect, focus, concentration, determination and achievement all combine to make you a very special person.  I appreciated your thoughtful candour, clear articulation of the risks, and emphasis on what it takes to succeed as well as your encouragement to the audience made the evening extremely special.  Congratulations on becoming the first American and British women to summit K2.”

Bill Liss
The Explorers Club

“It was a pleasure interviewing Vanessa O’Brien at The Explorers Club as part of my “Exploring Legends” series. She follows in a line of other great guests including Sen. John Glenn, Jim Whittaker, Buzz Aldrin and James Cameron. Vanessa really had to think on her feet as this series is just one-on-one Q&A between myself and the guest (no visual props) in front of some of the world’s more hard-core adventurers. She was dynamic, and both funny and dead serious when discussing her challenges at the Poles and on the Seven Summits. The audience clearly was engaged as she graciously answered several more questions afterward, publicly and privately. I highly recommend her as a speaker at any kind of event.”

Jim Clash
The Explorers Club Director and “Exploring Legends” Moderator

The Explorers Club
Dec 2, 2017
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Sep 15, 2017
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Sep 9th, 2013
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Each November since 1980, the New York Section of the American Alpine Club, has hosted an annual dinner with a notable speaker from the world of alpinism. Over the years, historic climbers such as Hillary, Messner and Houston, have kept members and guests enthralled with their exploits. Last night Vanessa O’Brien, only the third woman to speak at this event, kept the tradition alive with a captivating presentation revolving around her recent ascent of K-2. Vanessa became the first American woman to summit the most difficult and dangerous of the 8000 meter Himalayan giants in July of this year. In addition, as a holder of dual British-American passports, she also became the first British woman to summit and safely descend K-2, the “killer mountain”. As a speaker she speaks with energy, enthusiasm and humour. Her message, not only to female audiences, is that determination, persistence and enthusiasm can achieve great things.”

Philip Erard
Chairman American Alpine Club, New York Section (1980-2015)


NYS American Alpine Club
Nov 11, 2017
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Jun 1st, 2013


“Vanessa O’Brien has been a guest lecturer and a presenter for us at the Boston College’s MBA program at the Carroll School of Management on two occasions.  Her orientation and experience as both an adventurer and business leader make her an exceptional speaker on topics at the intersection of leadership, strategy, execution, and teamwork.  Vanessa recently brought to life the story of the catastrophic events that took place in 1996 on Mt. Everest (HBR) and K2: The Brotherhood of The Rope (Darden) for a class of graduate students in our High Performing Teams course.  With both a sense of history, and also through her first-hand perspective of climbing Everest and K2, Vanessa expertly connected her audience with the magnitude of the accomplishment. She effectively wove together the elements of leadership, teamwork, motivation, and incredible commitment to tell the story of each of these expeditions.”

Scott F. McDermott
Director, BC MBA Consulting Service
Boston College Carroll School of Management


Boston College
Carroll School of Management
Sep 21, 2016
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Sep 18, 2013


“Vanessa touched hundreds of hearts when she spoke at Women Achievers Congress in Westminster, London in the presence of the British Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May and hundreds of high achiever women from various disciplines. The Congress brought together the most prominent women leaders from the UK in public sector, politics, policymaking, business, academia along with select leaders from government, media, sports & philanthropy. Vanessa talked about the central theme of the Congress “Leading with Purpose” and inspired the audience. The audience loved her analogy of conquering the mountain vis-e-vis scaling the corporate ladder. Her passion and enthusiasm were termed infectious.”

Arif Anis Malik
Executive Director, WCOP


WCOP, London
Nov 29, 2015
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“The focus of my activity was to give women an open and safe environment for physical activity that is not only good for their health but also for their psychological development. Vanessa O’Brien’s presence and the support from the PUAN leadership have been instrumental in making this project a success.”

Ms. Shah Rukh
Alumna of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Project Artemis
Sponsored by the U.S. State Department & Pakistan – U.S. Alumni Network


Pakistan – U.S. Alumni Network
Aug 7, 2015 Islamabad
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“Vanessa is a dynamic story teller, putting you right on the mountain with her. She effectively related how key business concepts like teamwork, adaptability and leadership are skills that apply to just about any scenario – even navigating in high altitudes and deep crevasses. She had our group focused and engaged until the very end. It was great to reinforce business concepts in this unique way and Vanessa didn’t disappoint.”

Shana Fleet
Enterprise Data Management

Capital One
Jun 4, 2015
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“Using the metaphor of climbing, Vanessa took us on a tour of some of the most challenging and remote places on the planet,” said Senator McGuire. “In her presentation, she explored the importance of overcoming adversity by having a purpose through short-term goals. She illustrated how preparation, teamwork, staying focused to avoid risks, and applying a success-oriented mindset differentiate the winners from the losers – not just on the mountain but in business and in life. I think this was the perfect way to end an incredibly inspiring two days of discussions with a direction of where we need to head next.”

Senator Lesil McGuire
Alaska State Legislature


University of Alaska
Oct 17, 2014
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“Your recent visit to Cape Henry Collegiate was nothing short of remarkable.  Your presence and style engaged students while your story and message inspired them. The time you spent with our community before and after your presentation provided all with an opportunity to ask questions, and learn about the life lessons of risk taking, decision making, and goal setting.  Your passion for climbing, coupled with your diverse experience set, made for a memorable day for both faculty and students.”

Kathleen K. Sharp, M.Ed., Ed.S.
Director of Academic Affairs
Cape Henry Collegiate


Cape Henry Collegiate
Jan 16th, 2014
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Other Events

French Consulate NY
January 11, 2018
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Lahore Gymkhana Club
December 14, 2017
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Boston College Club
Sep 20, 2016
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Nov 8, 2012

Apr 16, 2016
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Ilkley Grammar School
Sep 18, 2015
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Tiffany Circle
Jun 9, 2015
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Ted Baker London
Aug 21, 2014
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A Small World
Nov 20th, 2013
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Oct 9, 2012
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