Maria Witchell Keynote Speaker
- Former Special Forces Officer and professional kidnap and ransom hostage negotiator
- Explorer and veteran of eight polar expeditions including reaching the North and South Poles and traversing the Antarctic Peninsula
- Managing Director Asia Pacific for a top investment bank
Maria Witchell's Biography
Maria Witchell is a veteran of eight polar expeditions including reaching the North and South Poles. She was recently part of a team to successfully establish a new polar route traversing the narrow plateaux of the Antarctic Peninsula in 2019. Maria is also a trustee of the charities ‘Style for Soldiers’ and ‘LAW-G’.
Following university, Maria began her career as a British Army Officer after graduating from The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. She quickly went on to complete Special Forces selection and became one of the few women to serve as an operative in the United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) conducting covert military operations.
As a covert operator in UKSF, she gained substantial experience operating in challenging, pressurised, intense and dangerous environments which included covert and counter terrorism operations of the most serious and sensitive nature.
Maria progressed to working for the British government and then became one of the first women in the world to become a professional kidnap ransom negotiator operating worldwide with a particular focus on Central and South America. She negotiated the release of numerous high profile/high net worth individuals, leaders of global corporate entities and/or their close family members ‘in country’ negotiating with, amongst others, the FARC and ELN guerilla groups or with the terrorist and criminal gangs involved.
After some years operating as a kidnap & ransom negotiator, Maria changed direction and attended, the College of Law in London, qualifying as a solicitor with a specialism in banking with a leading London city law firm. After five years, she then joined a major international investment bank becoming head of equity financing, legal in London. Today Maria is Managing Director, head of corporate loans and derivatives, legal for the Asia Pacific region located in Hong Kong.
Maria has held leadership roles in both her military and corporate careers and has considerable experience in the transferability of military leadership skills into the corporate world.
Maria’s disarming style and sense of humour make her a captivating speaker. Challenging ideas of what a Special Forces Operative looks like, Maria relates lessons from some of the toughest working environments on the planet. Please see speaking topics listed below.
Maria Witchell's Speaking Topics
No Fear of Failure
Negotiation: tactics from a former professional hostage negotiator
Leadership: trust-based leadership, leadership under pressure and inclusive leadership
Diversity and inclusion: driving performance through diversity and inclusion
Climate change (Arctic & Antarctic), ESG and sustainable finance