Kevin Biggar

Kevin won the trans-Atlantic rowing race and trekked unsupported to the South Pole. He has just finished filming series three of First Crossings – a tv show that re-creates some of the epic adventures of trail-blazing pioneers in NZ.

Kevin Biggar on Leadership 

With a unique background of proven performance in both extreme adventure and business, Kevin will share with your staff powerful and highly entertaining techniques and insights into how the principles, frameworks and learnings from each can be applied to the other.

Kevin was a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group when he decided he had to take control of his life. So he quit his job, sold his house, left his girlfriend and went back home to live with his mum. He sat on the sofa, watched TV, ate fast food and put on weight.

Two years later he stood on the pier in Barbados, winner of the trans-Atlantic rowing race and the holder of two world records. Kevin shares with your staff the strategies and techniques for how he set these outrageous goals, overcame extreme obstacles and persevered through adversity to achieve success.

A hugely experienced speaker and accomplished story-teller, Kevin is the author of three books, including the award, winning Oarsome Adventures of a Fat Boy Rower and now a presenter on the hit TVNZ documentary series First Crossings – he will take your audience on a fast-paced unforgettable journey toward high performance.

Kevin Biggar first came to public attention when he left the corporate world to take part in the 2003 Trans-Atlantic rowing race. An unusual choice for anyone but particularly for someone who had never rowed before!

Yet, with Sir Edmund Hillary as patron and Jamie Fitzgerald as a rowing partner, he set off on a desperate and thrilling race. In the end he not only won but smashed the previous record, completing the gruelling 5000km challenge in an astonishing 40 days and 5 hours at sea.

Three years later he teamed up with Sir Ed and Jamie again to take on a far greater challenge, the first unsupported manhaul to the South Pole by New Zealanders. To put this in context, more than 5000 people have climbed Mt Everest, 500 have been into space, but fewer than 50 people had ever trekked from the 1200 km Antarctic coast to the South Pole. Kevin is now one of less than a handful of people who have ever rowed an ocean and trekked to a Pole.

To put together these campaigns Kevin has been able to draw on a wealth of experience from his first class academic background and a successful corporate career. Kevin graduated from the University of Auckland with a degree in physics and psychology and a Masters degree in Environmental Development from the University of Cambridge UK.

His business career has included roles at the New Zealand Treasury in the International Economics Division, as a Strategy Consultant for The Boston Consulting Group, a Strategy Manager with Telecom NZ, and the CEO of a software start-up. Somewhere along the way he also worked as a truck driver in London, a giant chicken for an amusement park, a bricklayer in Nepal and has also won the Toastmasters humorous speech competition for the Wellington region.

Now as a full-time professional speaker, Kevin works hard to ensure that clients get the maximum value from his session. As a former consultant Kevin presents frameworks, not laundry lists; advice that is backed up by scientific evidence not generic context-free soundbites. When it comes to performance what distinguishes Kevin is that he has walked the talk, rowed the row and trekked the trek. He knows what works because he has used it and these are the techniques he shares with your staff and clients.

His adventures travelling across the Atlantic Ocean and Antarctic icecap means he can illustrate his key messages with vivid, powerful and unforgettable anecdotes that will embed themselves in your company's culture. Next time you're talking about facing a difficult challenge you will find yourselves talking about how he turned the roof of his tent in Antarctica into a giant goal-setting map. When you're forming a team you’ll be talking about 'The Energy Rule' he used in the Atlantic.

Kevin's presentation style is highly visual and engaging, delivered with humility and authenticity. The audience is taken on a breathtaking and unforgettable romp across oceans, through storms, down giant waves, in blizzards and across continents in a way that never fails to inspire and motivate. His hilarious and self-deprecating style has led to Kevin being equally in demand to present after-dinner as well as conference keynote.

Presentations, available as one-hour keynotes or half day workshops, are around four themes.

• Fearless facing Challenges

Few things stay the same in business. Competitors get faster and smarter. Consumers want more for less. To take your organisation to the next level of performance will often require setting and achieving audacious commercial goals – from achieving dramatically raised sales targets to rapidly developing new products.
This presentation confronts those unspoken doubts head-on and provides tips, tools and realistic strategies to help refocus team members on what they can control, build resilience, create momentum and achieve success.

• Energising and Uniting Teams

There is plenty of evidence that shows that teams produce better results than individuals – but only when a team is functioning well. Everyone has experienced the frustration, aggravation and productivity loss of being in a team that is dysfunctional. If the team dynamic is starting to turn sour it is best to address it early before problems become entrenched.
This presentation is about improving the culture within a team, about setting up the ground rules for behaviour and heading off problems before they become serious issues. It's suitable for a team that's just starting out, a team that is starting to show a few cracks or a team that wants to improve performance.

• Taking performance to the next level

Every organisation faces times where performance plateaus when the workforce is firmly within their comfort zone. At these times what is needed is a bit of a circuit breaker, something to knock the problems and challenges back into perspective. Something to get people excited, and believing again in their own ability.
This presentation provides the steps for how to break through the plateaus and get the mindset to achieve even more.

• NEW! Mental Toughness

The single most important factor in achieving success is mental toughness or ‘resilience’ – the ability to bounce back aftershocks and setbacks, and persevere through adversity. Think of the young Sir Ed hell-bent for the Pole, or Buck Shelford playing on, in some people there seems to be a built-in resilience and persistence. For the rest of us sometimes this is easier said than done. Not always but sometimes, there is a tendency to internalise the reasons for a setback, generalise it to other areas and to believe that things won't improve. Fortunately, there are a range of skills and techniques, which if learned, can dramatically improve our mental toughness.

This entertaining one-hour keynote, or thought-provoking half-day workshop, is about identifying, exercising and growing your staff's emotional muscles to they have the ability to roll with the punches and continue moving forward even stronger than before. Participants particularly enjoy applying their new theories by analysing how X-Factor and The Voice contestants, along with presidential candidates and Olympic athletes, process setbacks!

It will boost the performance of any group but particularly those staff that are dealing with adversity – for example, salespeople, call centre or support desk operators, employees coping with change and management of all levels!


Kevin was a guest speaker at a recent business event . His focus for our event was around change and resilience.

The hour Kevin spent with us was high energy, funny, inspiring and really relevant to all of us. Through story-telling, he shared techniques and strategies to face our challenges and succeed – just as relevant to an extreme adventure as they are in facing our everyday challenges and dreams. He shared how a regular person like any of us can achieve amazing things – truly inspirational and enjoyable. I would highly recommend Kevin – we were all left feeling energised and he had a great way of connecting with us, a very genuine and Inspiring person.

Wow – I’m so glad we asked Kevin to present at our recent NZIHE conference! He is an incredibly engaging and entertaining speaker who captured and uplifted the entire audience. Kevin’s stories of his adventures are truly ‘oarsome’, however it is his subtle and clever way of delivering the motivational messages behind the stories that makes him so inspirational to listen to