Leading from the Helm |A Q&A with International Sailor Tracy Edwards

15 May 2019

Despite being expelled from school at age 15 with no qualifications, Tracy Edwards  was the skipper of the first all-female crew to sail around the world, is a successful entrepreneur and is the definition of tenacity as she battled her way back from bankruptcy.

Her willpower to succeed was her driving force, leading her to complete a degree in psychology in her 40s, after her sailing career, as well as running a thriving business. A determined adventurer, Tracy shares her motivational story and lessons of leadership on the corporate circuit. Intrigued by her story, we had some burning questions that we wanted to ask.

Talking about her most memorable moments skipping the first all-female crew, tips on leadership and her biggest motivation, Tracy has an incredible story with many insights to share.

You have such a fascinating story, could you tell us a little bit about skipping the first all-female crew to sail around the world and some of your most memorable moments?

Winning the second leg into Fremantle was a definite highlight of the race, and sailing back into Southampton with so many boats coming out to follow us up the Solent. It was truly overwhelming.

Tracy's documentary, Maiden, which follows the story of her then 24 year-old self when she became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitebread Round the World Race in 1989, was released on the 8th of March 2019.

Skippering the yacht must have presented some challenging leadership moments, what are some of your tips on leading a team who presumably all come from varying backgrounds?

I would say the most important thing about being an effective leader is understanding what motivates each person in your team. Everyone is there for a different reason and therefore different things motivate different people.

After sponsors failed to produce the money owed to you how did you find the motivation to continue? What advice would you give others to preserve in adversity?

My motivation to continue is always the need to see what happens next!  If I give up I will never know. Also, in that particular situation, I had my daughter and my Mum to take care of so I didn’t have time to think of anything other than ‘how do I keep moving forwards?’.

If there is one message that you would like your audience to take away from your speech, what is it?

Keep moving forwards even if you do not necessarily know which direction to take.  If you keep moving forwards it will all become apparent. If you stand still and wait or plan for too long, nothing happens!

And finally, what’s on the horizon for you?

The Maiden Factor keeps me very busy. Raising funds and awareness for girls’ education around the world is the driving force in my life.

Thank you, Tracy, for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to hearing about all of your success with raising funds and awareness for girls’ education, you are such as inspiration!

For further information or to book Tracy Edwards MBE, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk

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