Daniel Hughes

Expert on Leadership and Decision-Making in High-Pressure Environments

Daniel Hughes
  • Founder of Reignite; an organisation which works with C-suite and senior management teams to give them the frameworks and skills to be able to lead and make decisions in any situation
  • Rivets and inspires audiences, leading them on incredible tales of human accomplishment
  • A master at overcoming adversity and the triumph of self-belief

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Having summited Everest, been one of the youngest ever to be “badged" into the SAS (UK Special Forces) and one of the top Duathletes in the world, Daniel knows what it is to exist on the edge of human endurance. He ascribes to the belief that; no book can prepare you for your mental and physical limits and once conquered, you can completely reset your boundaries of what you believed possible. As an active 787 Dreamliner pilot and entrepreneur, blue chip companies now send their senior executives to be coached in leadership and decision making in high pressure situations by Daniel.

A natural orator, Hughes’ stories takes the audience by the hand and leads them through enthralling and unfaded tales of human accomplishment. He is unwaveringly authentic and easily connects with people, while his passion and confidence captivates imaginations, allowing the audience to feel as though they were alongside him. Best described as ‘having a wicked sense of humour and a reflective awareness’, Daniel is able to effortlessly read and command a room.

Having suffered enormous adversity at school that resulted in introversion and a lack of self-belief, his catalyst to change was joining the military. Here he excelled and soon volunteered for SAS selection, the UK’s elite Special Forces. Ironically, had it not been for the hardship he faced, he never would have discovered the mental strength and resilience that he would require for this task. While being tested to destruction, and injured, he walked the final 30km sideways, losing all his toenails and skin on his back and at 23 successfully gained a place in the SAS, founding his belief that anything is possible. He served for nearly seven years, where he operated all over the world, had multiple specialties and was promoted to an instructor.

It was perhaps intrepid curiosity that meant Daniels next feat was summiting Everest as a means of raising £1m for impoverished South American children. Facing a year of declines from companies to support his mission, Daniels rugged determination bore an idea: to do the first ever live video broadcast from the summit. Within months he had over 30 sponsors including BBC News Channel, HTC, Coldplay, Gatorade, Nike, and Microsoft. Overcoming numerous technological and logistical issues, Hughes built out a team of 268 that enabled him to deliver the ‘world’s highest video broadcast’, with the equipment now featured in The London Science Museum.

Daniel never strayed far from his relentless pursuit of excellence and soon found himself competing in duathlon for Team GB. Having ranked in the top section of the world in 2014, he decided to harness his extraordinary experiences for use in the corporate sector. Having lived at both ends of the risk spectrum, Hughes is able to bring a unique and invaluable perspective to his work as a pilot and corporate instructor. The NASA based frameworks which we use to mitigate risk and make decisions under pressure in the flight deck, have been invaluable to building a vast array/complete repertoire of experience” he says.

Going on to found ReIgnite, an experiential leadership company, Daniel draws on these frameworks, his diverse skill set and classical theories from Daniel Golemen and Eric Berne to assess emotional intelligence and behaviour. His programme is designed to challenge, appraise and transform mind-sets in senior executives around the world. In his spare time, Daniel acts as a Global Educator for Microsoft, delivering educational programmes to empower the next generation.

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Speaker Video

Daniel Hughes Everest Million Campaign

Live Broadcast from Top Mount Everest

1. The Everestmillion Campaign

A mining town in South America called Potosi, where children lead incredibly impoverished lives was his call to action. He wanted to do something to help those children and went on an epic mission to try to raise £1million for Comic Relief; a charity that helps children living incredibly tough lives.

He candidly talks about the twelve months and over 200 rejections where it would have been easy to give up, the massive highs and lows, enduring some of the coldest and harshest climates on the planet in preparation, working with partners to develop world first technologies to then risk it all as he scaled Everest.

This jaw dropping, highly-visual, and narrative story will have you on the edge of your seats. Recounting moments, where the summit was drifting away from him, the race for the summit and delivering the worlds highest video broadcast to the BBC News channel from the summit.

“The pressure of having a team of 268 people behind him including the likes of the BBC, HTC, Coldplay, Gatorade, Nike, and Microsoft was enormous”, he says. He had to keep focused, manage risk,and ultimately keep composed to make life or death decisions at altitudes where it is hard enough to put one foot in front of the other.

This talk has been given to over 10,000, and he actively encourages the audience to ask questions, try his summit kit on, and can integrate topics such as Risk Management, Decision Making under pressure and how to build your team upon request.

2. The “Sully” 

Sully Sullenberger a veteran fighter pilot and airline pilot of 30 years, reported for flight 1549 as usual; He like all flights upheld the highest professional standards.

The unthinkable happened: A double engine failure on take-off out of New York, La Guardia. Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles would not have planned for this. They did however have skills and NASA born frameworks taught over many years to help deal with this event.

As an active 787 Dreamliner pilot, Daniel will transport you into their world that day, with a high visual explanation of events, and explain how NASA’s frameworks can be integrated into your decision-making processes.

3. Risk Vs. Reward: Getting It Right.

Although Daniel has spent over 15 years in high-risk environments, he doesn’t accept additional or un-necessary risk. You have to have processes to information gather, assess threats and most importantly be able to “box the chimp,” if things don’t go to plan”, he says.

Giving concise examples and actionable frameworks, this talk specifically looks into how he has and does assess risk, utilising his multitude of experiences.

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