Cath Bishop

Olympic Medalist, Diplomat

Cath Bishop

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Cath is a speaker and leadership consultant, drawing on her practical experience from two high pressure careers as an Olympic rower and a senior diplomat specialising in conflict stabilisation. 

Despite a non-sporty start at school, Cath went on in her rowing career to compete at three Olympic Games, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, with highlights including winning the World Championships in 2003 and an Olympic silver medal in 2004. As a diplomat specialising in conflict issues, Cath was posted to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Basra, Iraq, as well as leading in Whitehall on the UK civilian contribution to conflicts around the world.

Drawing on her unique combination of experience, Cath understands the resilience and leadership required to manage complex challenges that come from exceptionally high pressure demands in the workplace, sporting arena and at home.  Both rowing and international diplomacy offer relevant analogies for the interdependency and collaboration that is essential to business success, and with her experience at the top end of both fields, Cath has also developed practical strategies for getting both individuals and teams to focus on delivering exceptional results under the toughest of circumstances. 

Cath has an MA in Modern Languages from Pembroke College, Cambridge, an MPhil in International Politics from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, and a PhD in contemporary German literature from the University of Reading.  She is the mother of two young children, and is also the Chair of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club which made history in April 2015 when, for the first time ever, the women’s Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race took place on the same course and on the same global stage as the men’s 187 year old iconic Boat race.  Her speaking work includes companies, such as Coca Cola Enterprises, GE Healthcare and Microsoft, and Cath has led workshops and seminars for business schools, including the Said Business School, Imperial College Business School, Ashridge Business School and the Leadership Trust on topics including resilience, leadership, high performing teams, peak performance and dealing with pressure. 

Cath has a Certificate in Executive Coaching (Academy of Executive Coaching) alongside experience of Civil Service coaching programmes and sports coaching experience.  Cath is also Strengthscope accredited and has recently written for the leading executive coaching magazine and been a panelist on the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking series, and is always looking to combine her unique multiple perspectives with the latest research to develop effective, practical high performance strategies.

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High Performance. Focuses on the importance of clarity of purpose (what does success look like, what gets you up in the morning - how connected are you to your purpose?) and tapping into your passion for what you do. a constant learning mindset, to maximise self-improvement, adaptability and learning from failure;  a focus on the performance process rather than results (- i.e. feedback, self-awareness, communication and the things needed in order to succeed, rather than just focusing on the results: medals/profit etc), marginal gains as a means of constant improvement and creative innovation; collaboration - importance of investing in quality relationships, authentic connections that go beyond transactional relationships; understanding each other's strengths, collaborating rather than competing, and using innovation as a spark for collaboration.

Resilience. Looks at what resilience actually means (dispelling some myths), and focus on the importance of a growth mindset, building emotional and mental resilience as well as physical resilience, using setbacks as a means of constant learning and improvement, and the importance of psychological flexibility to emerge stronger after challenges rather than just 'bouncing back' each time and ‘toughing things out’ which is not a long-term sustainable way to cope.

High Performing Teams. Covers the importance of clarifying a shared goal, and aligning individual and team objectives, understanding each others' strengths, the importance of feedback, diversity and constructive challenge (- i.e. harmony is not a prerequisite for a high functioning team, need to avoid group think/Abilene paradox), and using the shared purpose as a drive for constant improvement and innovation.

Dealing with Pressure

Creating a Winning Mindset

Supporting Future Women Leaders

Lessons from 3 Olympics and 2 Warzones

Leading as a Woman in a Man’s World

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