Caroline Casey

Born legally blind but didn’t know her vision was impaired until she was 17

About

Dr Caroline Casey has dedicated more than two decades of her life to changing how global society views people with disabilities. A former management consultant with Accenture, she is visually impaired to the level that she is registered as legally blind. However, remarkably, she didn’t find out this fact until she was 17 years old. Until then, she believed her sight was normal.

Diagnosed with ocular albinism at six months old — a condition that meant she had been born legally blind — Caroline’s parents brought her up not knowing because they didn’t want her to be defined by a medical condition. She only found out about the disability when she went to her eye specialist at 17 and mentioned that she wanted to get her driver’s licence.

And whilst she never learnt to drive, she didn’t let her limited eyesight hold her back from achieving success in life. Caroline hid her disability well into her 20s, until her eyesight deteriorated to such an extent that she had no choice but to reveal her condition to her employer.

Leaving her post and embarking on a soul-searching journey, she rode 1,000 kilometres across India on an elephant named Kanchi to raise funds for Sight Savers. Returning to Dublin, she founded Kanchi, a non-profit that aims to change the attitudes and behaviours towards people with disability by working with business leaders.

She developed a set of best practices (based on ISO 9000 quality standards) for businesses to help them see disabled workers as assets rather than liabilities. Hundreds of companies adopted the standards, in fact 268 signed up in just one year, changing their policies and attitudes. Together these companies represent a combined €4 trillion (£3.48 trillion) in business revenue and have 10 million employee across 22 countries and 42 sectors.

In 2004, she started the O2 Ability Awards to recognise Irish businesses for their inclusion of people with disabilities, both as employees and customers. The Ability Awards included the development of a unique assessment tool and intensive communications campaign. Establishing a business standard; they are also pioneering an achievable vision for leadership engagement whilst constructively challenging the relationship between business and people with disabilities.

Caroline is now an award-winning social entrepreneur and founder of The Valuable 500 - a catalyst for an inclusion revolution that exists to position disability equally on the global business leadership agenda.

Committed to building a global movement on inclusive business for the 1.3 billion people in the world with a disability, over the past two decades she has set up several organisations and initiatives centred on disability business inclusion.

She is frequently invited to contribute at groundbreaking events such DAVOS World Economic Forum, One Young World, Skull etc. Comfortably straddling the worlds of business and activism, she has the ear of business and access to the world’s largest community of CEOs.

Her aim is to help shape a society where everyone is free to be fully themselves, regardless of ability or disability. To achieve this, Caroline has harnessed the skills and vision of over 400 global business leaders whose companies are making the biggest financial investment into disability in the world.

Her latest initiative, The Valuable 500, was an ambitious yearlong campaign to get 500 businesses to commit to putting disability inclusion on their leadership agendas. Launched at the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Summit, Caroline succeeded in bringing disability inclusion onto the main stage at DAVOS for the first time ever with the support of global business leaders including Sir Richard Branson, and Paul Polman, plus global brands including Microsoft and Sky.

Dr Caroline Casey is also a TED speaker, Ashoka Fellow, Eisenhower Fellow, a past advisor for the Clinton Global Initiative, a One Young World Counsellor and is a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

Some of the audiences she as addressed globally include MDRT, Microsoft, Accenture, Stryker, Salesforce, EY, Malmo University, University of Regina, Rolls Royce and many others.

Speech Topics

Telling the story of her extraordinary life, growing up as legally blind but only finding out when she was seventeen — a decision her parents consciously took to keep that fact from her — Caroline Casey’s talk challenges perceptions as she asks us all to move beyond the limits we may think we have.

Caroline has a unique ability to bring together the intersection of head and heart. She moves people to accept themselves and others, make positive changes, realise their own value, and be vulnerable and authentic.

Her passion and drive are rooted in her personal story about growing up and trying to fit in as a legally blind person. Today her work is catalysing business leaders to take full ownership of their inclusion agenda and to shed the constraints that stop inclusion from becoming a reality.

She address audiences on topics including corporate culture, entrepreneurship, social innovation, diversity in business, health & well-being, overcoming adversity, mental health and social responsibility.

Her presenting style has been described as being full of honesty, candour, energy and passion, with unique experience as a social entrepreneur, business woman, adventurer, visionary, game changer, campaigner, collaborator, risk taker and an expert on authentic leadership.

Diversity & Inclusion: The one-dimensional approach is gone
The D&I agenda is growing and evolving, fast. Caroline has the ear of the biggest CEO community in the world and leverages that knowledge to highlight and share the complexities and challenges of keeping up with those changes. The reality is that the one-dimensional approach is gone. Today, the scene is being disrupted by intersectionality and multi-dimensionality; it’s about inclusion, equity, diversity, belonging, and more.

In this talk, Caroline paints a vivid picture of what businesses need to look out for and what potential directions they might take. Just as she has done with audiences at Davos, One Young World, Clinton Initiative and others, she inspires people to review how, as both individuals and organisations, we can do better.

Motivational: It’s the cracks where the light gets in. There is no Hollywood ending.
Leonard Cohen’s lyric ‘It’s the cracks where the light gets in’ is Caroline’s mantra to help others see the good in all of their flaws. In this talk, Caroline shares her life story to help illustrate how every experience can lead to something better if only you allow it. She calls it ‘phosphorescence thinking’—the idea that you need the black to see the light.

Exploring the power of pain and difficulty to drive personal and professional growth, she stimulates audiences to connect with themselves and believe that they have every right to be their authentic selves.

She offers a new take on ‘resilience’, showing us how each event that occurs in life changes you and that you can use those changes, however small, to move forward with the confidence to adapt—and develop what she calls ‘sustainable grit’.

Leadership:  The relationship between Authentic Leadership and Self-Acceptance
Authenticity and trust are more important than ever for leaders today. Caroline believes you cannot speak to authenticity if you do not accept who you are—the shadow and the light. In this empowering talk, she paints a picture of leadership that is all about taking personal responsibility in order to engender greater trust, loyalty and buy-in.

Using her own story as an example, she shares how her own empathy, vision, decision-making and ability to energise others improved remarkably once she consciously embarked on the journey to accepting herself.

Leaders, she argues, need to acknowledge what Caroline calls ‘the power of grey’—the idea that most of us, most of the time, operate somewhere in between polarities of good and bad, success and failure. Being at either extreme is very limiting.

Testimonials

Caroline is a breath of fresh air. She gave us insight into what is achievable once you are honest with yourself about what you want to do, and passionate about achieving it. She has a wonderful communication style that is warm, engaging, and funny while delivering an impactful message. Truly uplifting!

Microsoft

Caroline was fantastic and her talk was way above anything else as the highlight of the day. Everyone I spoke to thought that her talk was inspirational as well as highly informative and charming.

O2 Ireland

Please can you pass on my sincere thanks to Caroline for speaking to our colleagues at Brit today. She was superb and such a brilliant speaker. Between her and Ade it was the perfect mix.

Lorraine Denny - Chief Engagement Officer, Brit Insurance

Caroline did amazingly on Monday, we were delighted to have her and she really did give it her all. Not a dry eye in the house

Louise O’Dwyer - Director, Talent Programs, EMEA Salesforce

Caroline spoke at our Annual Conference in May 2018. Her talk was thought provoking, emotional and inspiring and she had the audience completely enthralled for the duration. She was a true professional and an absolute pleasure to deal with. The feedback we have received from delegates following the event has been extremely positive.

Karin Lanigan - Chartered Accountants Ireland

Caroline was AMAZING with her keynote and Q&A live webcast today. We are receiving so many compliments from attendees. We’ll be sending you an “official thank you” soon. It’s truly been a pleasure working with both of you (and the very lovely Louise) and the immensely talented, gifted Caroline. What a speaker! What a leader!

Virtual Optum Conference, USA

We want to thank you for such an inspiring keynote session and for attending our conference and dinner. You are such a vibrant, smart, funny, inspiring person and it has been an honour to work with you. Our evaluations mentioned you as a highlight of the Summit, and many of the attendants wanted you to come back again next year.

Erika Augustinsson - Head of Communication and Policy, Forum for social innovation Sweden, Malmö University

How to book Caroline Casey for your event

To book Caroline Casey, please submit an online enquiry, email bookings@nmp.co.uk or speak with one of our booking agents on +44 (0)1372 361 004.

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I was very pleased with the service I received from NMP Live, the agent was very helpful and professional. I will definitely look to NMP Live in the future.
Nicole Hardaker, EAIE Conference Programme Coordinator
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