Jessica Watson

Victoria, Australia

Jessica Watson is the determined Queenslander who captured Australia's media when she announced her goal to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

No stranger to life on water, Jessica has lived on or near the sea for most of her life. She started sailing dinghies at age eight and now has sailing ability and experience admired by even the most accomplished skippers.

However, it wasn't only her recent accomplishments that sparked the idea for her incredible voyage. As a child, Jessica's mother read her the story of 18 year old Jesse Martin, who set the record in 1999, and it was his story that originally inspired the dream.

Since then, Jessica has surrounded herself with pictures, books and people that motivate her to accomplish this amazing feat.

In a keynote presentation delivered in a genuine and compelling style, Jessica shares the lessons that enabled her to achieve a feat that only a handful of people throughout history — and none at such a young age — have been able to. Jessica encourages audiences to challenge their expectations of themselves, stresses that anyone is capable of achieving extraordinary feats and shares the tools that enable anyone to take on the world, and their personal goals.

Speaking Topics

Harnessing Fear

How anyone can turn fear into courage

Many are surprised to learn that when she first dreamt of sailing around the world, Jessica was scared of just about everything. She believes that three things enable anyone to turn their fears into courage;

  • The ability to identify the fear that holds you back.
  • A powerful motivation or 'why'.
  • The realisation that anyone can choose the way they react.

But as Jessica discovered when she created a media storm by colliding with a 63,000-ton ship on her first night at sea, courage also requires practice.


How to develop the grit to cross oceans and take on audacious goals

Resilience was instrumental to Jessica's ability to overcome the many challenges faced during more than three years of preparation and 210 days alone at sea. She discovered that the key to mental strength was to break big goals down and focus only on the next few miles or the next small goal during tough times. Sharing insights from the many adventures and elite sportspeople she's learnt from, Jessica explains that the same approach is equally effective when it comes to tackling seemingly impossible and audacious goals.

Participative Leadership

How saying 'we' and giving others ownership wins support

Like many adventurers, Jessica credits much of her success to her support team. But seven years on, with many other projects under her belt, she realises that it was the diversity of her team that was its true strength. Jessica believes that the key to her being able to gain the extensive support that she did was her willingness to say 'we' and share the project. She explains a collective goal is important in many contexts, on and off the water.

Managing Risk

Why the ability to understand and manage risk is powerful

While many assumed that the voyage was reckless, Jessica approached the voyage with a strong focus on mitigating risks. She explains that to manage risk, you must analyse the consequences and likelihood of the different dangers involved, an approach that is equally relevant to risks in the business world and in our everyday lives. Jessica also urges audiences to consider whether there may be a risk in inaction.

Jessica Watson speaker

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A massive thank you to you both for all your assistance from selecting to co-ordinating the speakers for our annual ProLoan conference. Feedback was that this year’s speakers where the best they had EVER heard at ANY event. So this is pretty amazing, because they do go to a lot of sessions like these.

Director of Network Relationships - Proloan (aust) pty ltd

Again this year you and your team have been fantastic and extremely helpful.  In regards to you Sharm, you have been an absolute star and phenomenal help with our speakers and presenters, a great communicator, wealth of knowledge and so prompt with responding and looking at ways to cater to our needs.

Event Manager Fitness Australia

I would recommend, without hesitation, the services of Jane Rowland Smith and Ovations. Jane answered a last minute call to arrange a guest speaker for our principals. Nothing was too much effort, all was arranged within hours, and went very smoothly. The guest speaker was exactly what we required and our brief was followed. Thank you Jane and the team at Ovations.

Executive Director of Schools Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta

All aspects of the process has always gone seamlessly with Ovations and we will continue to seek your assistance for the awards in the coming years.

Thank you again, your help has meant that our Awards are very professional and extremely well received by our members and guests.

Executive Assistant BSCAA NSW Division

Jane, I personally want to thank you for all of your support, advice, patience and all round kindness that you have given me over the last 3 or so years.  This event would not have been as successful without the valuable MC’s you have recommended and the support you provided me when it all just seemed too hard

Shona Dilley – Smart School Awards, Department of Education
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