Anna has a natural ability to capture and stimulate her audience and is increasingly being sought after as a motivational speaker. She has an uncanny ability to expose the spirit and essence of exploration and adventure racing and her passion, in combination with a host of breathtaking images, leaves audiences understanding a little more about why people make her kind of life choices.
One of Anna’s biggest strengths is her ability to present her extraordinary stories in a totally accessible manner. Her belief that it is within everyone to achieve their goals comes across strongly in her tales.
Her commitment to living life fully leaves audiences believing that they too can achieve their dreams. Without labouring the point, she uses the talks to show people how they too can access the drive and determination necessary to keep going, once they have taken their first steps on their own journeys.
Her straightforward presentations of the choices and challenges she has faced - as well as the incredibly diverse paths she has travelled from a very young age - are truly inspirational.
Anna has one of the most impressive outdoor CV's of any sub 30 year old I have ever met: Paul Deegan in a profile about Anna in Global Adventure Magazine in 2000.
Anna has spent a great deal of time living, working and travelling abroad – primarily in developing countries.
Holding three degrees, including a Masters from Oxford, Anna has a continual struggle to balance her desire to put her professional expertise to good use, her passion for exploration and extreme challenges and her commitment to using her outdoor skills in the development of young people.
Her job choices have been incredibly diverse. They have included forestry and environmental based development work for DFID (department for International Development) in West Africa and Nepal, extreme sports consulting and filming for the BBC, expedition advisory work for the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), country-director work for an international NGO in Namibia, conflict resolution work with the El Salvadoran guerrilla army during the Peace Accords, management and guiding work for an international rafting company in Nepal and directorial work for one of the UK’s top youth expedition charities.
Along the way, she has somehow managed to organise and lead 10 international mountaineering, biking, kayaking and youth expeditions, and to become top 10 in the world in the sport of Adventure Racing. She now manages and competes in one of the World’s top Adventure Racing Teams, alternately known as team eVENT® Endure and Nike ACG Endure. Her extended team, including her husband, Pasi Ikonen, were featured in four of the 8 BBC 2 ‘The Challenge’ shows.
Anna is happy to give talks on any of the following subjects:
Adventure Racing is:
- One of the fastest growing team sports in the world
- Real life drama that makes ‘Castaway’, ‘Survivor’ and ‘Big Brother’ look like afternoon tea with Granny.
- Photogenic locations to make the best travel programmes jealous.
- An explosive cocktail of intense teamwork, world class multi-discipline sports, sleep deprivation and constant 24 hr a day pressure in which only the strong survive.
- Elite athletes pushed to the very edge of their physical capabilities – and then beyond!
It is also a celebration of the power, beauty and strength of the human body and the human spirit pushed to the maximum – and then beyond. Powerful TV footage and stunning slides are used to graphically portray the challenges and exhilaration that comes from success in one of the most demanding and gruelling of modern sports. If you thought that true adventure was a thing of the past – think again!
A life of adventure
In this talk, Anna stuns audiences with a calm but insightful look at the exploratory journeys and adventures that have made up her life so far.
Journey with her back to the High Himalayas and the Guinness Book of Records at the age of 17 and then to a year amongst lepers and climbing un-chartered South East Asian volcanoes at 18 and 19.
At 21, she was living in an American commune and then doing accompaniment work amongst the guerrilla armies of Central America. Cutting edge research amongst West African Witch Doctors into NTFPs opened a door to a job with DFID in Nepal. At the end of her contract, she used her airfare home to instead bike through Tibet, journey to Kailash and climb on the North side of Everest, (burying a friend along the way). Back in Nepal, she raft guided to earn her money home. By that stage, she was 23.
Since then she has hiked, climbed and kayaked through most regions of the world, sometimes solo and sometimes in charge of up to 140 young people.
Learn what it means to have the courage and self belief to both create and to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that comes ones way…
Expedition Based and Youth-Targeted Talks
Work with the Expedition Advisory Centre of the RGS-IBG and a number of key youth expeditionary charities means that Anna can provide an insightful and unbiased overview of expedition opportunities for young people.
As well as talking through the pros and cons of various travel and learning options and gap year choices, Anna can talk on subjects as diverse and inclusive expeditionary practice, expedition leadership models, expedition planning and environmental ethics (effectively, ‘how to shit in the woods’!)
Developing World Class Performance
The courage, focus, adaptability and preparation that goes into building and maintaining a World Class Adventure Racing team can be directly applied to the skills needed to take companies to a new level of productivity and performance.
Adventure Racing is full of young, intelligent and highly motivated individuals who thrive on being thrown together and confronted with the ultimate in modern day physical and mental challenges.
All are multi-skilled, courageous and focused and most are keen to explore the nature and cultures of the countries they race through. They believe in pushing their own limits and those of their team mates. The very nature of the sport demands that they are flexible, quick to pick up and communicate new skills, adaptable to new situations and able to make sound decisions under extreme pressure. Most have the skill to alternate between being a dependable team member and a strong team leader.
Individual athletes come to AR teams with different mental and physical skills, backgrounds and personalities. World class teams are those that have learned to maximise the individual strengths using effective teamwork and strong leadership models. They set both individual and team goals and push through difficulties using good communication and strategic decision making skills. In AR, getting a team to the starting line can be almost as challenging as achieving podium success.
The parallels that can be drawn between successful leadership and teamwork models within AR (or the expedition world) and within big corporations are obvious. These models are increasingly being used in the corporate setting as a method of building world class teams that can achieve success against all odds.
Using experiences from some of the most challenging situations and environments on earth, Anna can bring a fresh perspective to winning strategies in the corporate world.
Other subject areas Anna has recently covered in talks include:
- 'Is AR a sport created by Salomon as a marketing tool or is it the Formula 1 testing ground for kit in the Outdoor World?
- ‘Maximising Sponsorship returns when working with Athletes’
- ‘Working with sponsors to develop strong, ongoing partnerships.’
- The BBC ‘SAS: Are you Tough Enough’ and ‘The Challenge’ Series: From both sides of the camera…
Talks are always completely tailored to the audience and their wishes and Anna is happy talking either at corporate conferences, dinner or training programmes.
Anna has also convened and facilitated a range of company courses, including urban and wilderness challenges, BBC candidate selection courses, product testing and management training courses.
Courses can provide a practical demonstration of how maximising team efficiency leads to success. Outdoor teamwork reminds people about what is really important in life and promotes balance, rest, observation, patience, adaptability and perseverance amongst a work force.
Such events show positive commitment to employee healthcare and they enhance motivation and co-operation within the work force. They are therefore great corporate development, team building and motivational tools.
Courses can also be designed purely for staff enjoyment or to give press an unforgettable company experience!
Fees are by negotiation, depending on the nature of the event, size of the company, distance of travel involved and whether or not the client envisages repeat business.
’Thanks for a superb talk – just as fascinating and insightful as Andy Kirkpatrick’s talk last year - the number of questions generated showed how much you stimulated the audience, particularly amazing considering that many of them were skeptical about the relevance of adventure racing in the beginning! Your show was the most reality I have seen in some while – frankly, much more interesting both visually and in words than any TV reality show I have seen. Thank you for tailoring it so much to our audience - it was absolutely perfect for our event.’’ Mike Parsons on a talk delivered at a ‘Clothing for Extremes’ Conference attended by MD's and Product Designers from the UK Outdoor Industry 2004
To Book Anna please get in touch.