Speakers & Workshops


Main Speaker – Hazel Findlay

Hazel loves sharing stories from her adventures because they provide a unique opportunity to communicate important lessons regarding her favourite subject: psychology. Hazel does this through engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking storytelling that leaves audiences excited and motivated to think about their own challenges differently. Why are Hazel’s talks different? Because she is honest about her personal experiences, talks with depth about the philosophical underpinnings of her unique life and yet throughout, the audience will easily relate to their own struggles and dreams.

Hazel Findlay has been climbing for 26 of her 32 years, and started out trad climbing on the limestone sea cliffs of Pembrokeshire.

In her youth she enjoyed competition climbing – she was the British junior champion six times – but at 16 decided to give it up to focus on climbing on rock, especially trad climbing which is her main passion. Hazel has been a full time climber for the last eight years, which has allowed her to travel all over the world climbing interesting pieces of rock.

Hazel was the first British woman to climb a trad route at E9, and free El Capitan in Yosemite, which she has now done three times. Hazel has also red pointed 8c (5.14b) sport and 8c+ trad and onsighted many 8as, loves all types of climbing from bouldering to alpine climbing and is especially interested in the mental challenge that climbing evokes.

This interest in psychology lead her to train as a coach so she could help others with their mindset and mental-management. Hazel specialises in helping people overcome fears and limitations so they can focus on the task at hand, perform at their best and enjoy climbing more than ever. Hazel has worked with people from all walks of life including: competitive athletes, new climbers, business clients, musicians and artists.

Hazel specialises in helping people overcome fears and limitations so they can focus on the task at hand, perform at their best and enjoy climbing more than ever. Hazel has worked with people from all walks of life including: competitive athletes, new climbers, business clients, musicians and artists.

Hazel’s talk: So many athletes and climbers focus solely on the physical and technical aspects of climbing and forget about the mind. Hazel will talk about the power of the mind in climbing, using examples of adventures and big climbing projects from around the world. Would climbing be so interesting, fun and as worthwhile if we weren’t afraid to fall, or we weren’t afraid to fail? 

Other Speakers

The Great Retention Puzzle – How effective job design puts the pieces together

Retention.  A word that can cause even the most dedicated managers and leaders to feel defeated.  The good news is, simply increasing pay is not the answer to the problem.  So, what does it take to keep our team members?  It begins with looking at the whole picture and effective job design can help you do just that.  Join for an engaging discussion to learn what job design is, explore key pieces of the puzzle that impact employee retention, and learn from others as we examine examples of businesses that got it right and where others missed the mark.

Paula Horwitz serves as the Executive Director for the Climbing Wall Association (CWA) where she partners with the board of directors to strategically meet the needs of North America’s indoor climbing industry.  With over 15 years in management and executive leadership, Paula has built and lead diverse teams on the grounding principles of forming strong relationships, respect, and individualized support.  Passionate about leadership and growth, Paula is also completing her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology studying the impacts of organizational structure and leadership methods on employee satisfaction and retention.

Marketing, Branding and Social Media

More info coming soon.

Coaching at Your Wall

More info coming soon.

Customer Service with Gavin Scott

The landscape of Customer Service has changed dramatically over the last 2 years, more so than in the previous 10 years.  Today, customers value ease, speed, and a more personalised customer experience when they interact and engage with you and your business.  With 86% of customers willing to pay more for a better customer experience, it makes sense for us to consistently get the basics right and invest more in the service that we provide our customers with.

At this years conference, he will be sharing details of the 4 Cornerstones to Customer Service Success, he guarantees that if we apply these principles and ideas to our own businesses, the results will include, increased customer satisfaction, a more loyal customer base, and customers who will recommend you to their families and friends

Gavin Scott is an expert in Customer Service, he is an author of a No 1 Best-selling book, Podcaster and Professional Speaker who is passionate about providing exceptional Customer Experiences.  He has  spent the last 20 years helping his clients to have great conversations with their Customers, working with clients including cinch, Virgin Active and Barclays.

NICAS Product Launch

NICAS is the pre-eminent learn to climb scheme throughout the UK and Ireland and is quickly building an international reputation. Last year’s ABC Conference saw us launch NICAS Wild Climbers which has surpassed all expectations in offering accredited walls a fun-based programme of climbing aimed at ages 3 – 6 years.

This year we will be launching NICAS Clip, a scheme designed by our experts for auto-belay climbing and to capture the imagination of the millions of young people at fun, experiential climbing centres and on auto-belay routes in traditional centres. By turning a single fun visit into a programme of learning, we look to seed a climbing habit and signpost young people onto the core NICAS schemes in existing, accredited centres meaning we begin a lifetime of happy climbing experiences.

But that’s not all…..we will also be launching two further ground-breaking initiatives that will support walls and coaches deliver NICAS whilst strengthening the indoor sector by adding to the climbing eco-system and quality of coaching. In all, NICAS will be sharing three entirely new, national initiatives and we will also be giving you a glimpse of what future beholds for NICAS in a digital world. This year will be the biggest in our history and we will be letting you know exactly how our schemes will support your wall and coaches.


Maintaining Quality Standards – A Practical Approach

The focus of this workshop will be on applying rigour and maintaining quality standards at your wall.

Why is it important important, what does ‘good’ look like and what practical steps can walls take to keep standards up.

The workshop will also cover where to get help and support, how to self-audit your set up and ways to stay current.

This workshop will be delivered by a Technical Advisor with experience running moderations for NICAS and with an extensive background in indoor climbing and coaching.

Alan is a Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and Development Coach based in Fort William. As well as teaching climbing and mountaineering year round he provides Technical Advice and support to Artificial Climbing centres in Scotland. A manager at 2 different climbing walls, Alan is also a Technical Expert to the ABC Training Trust, a NICAS Coach an AMI workshop provider and mentor and also a trainer for staff working on MTS courses. He works on the full spectrum of Mountain Training qualification courses and is a provider of the climbing related awards up to RCDI.

Synergies Between Learner and Professional Climbing Pathways

How a professional pathway can be helped by, or have synergies with the NICAS learner pathway. For example a climber can start now with NICAS Wild Climbers, transition to NICAS climbing, go on to indoor climbing assistant to CWI. Also the idea of candidates growing skills in parallel with the staff teaching them who are also learning and developing. The session will use Oxford Brookes as a case study as a site which focusses a lot of energy into coaching and mentoring for all ages, and as a result has a very engaged community at the wall.

CWI, CWDI, RCI, DCA, ML, RCDI (Mindset Life Coach, S & C L4 Coach & Aspirant GB Physical Profiling Coach)

Mel is Assistant Manager at Brookes Climb as well as being course director for NICAS at the centre, a member of the NICAS coach development team,  and director of MB Mountain Adventures. Mel runs the junior, talent, development & senior squad academies at Brookes Climb. Mel runs various trips outdoors climbing, mountaineering and expeditions including rock skills and the assistant climbing award. Mel is part of the MTA mentoring scheme and is deeply passionate about supporting other instructors on their journey through their qualifications as well as supporting female coaches further their qualifications, supporting them through the MTA qualification pathway.  Mel has been climbing for around 10 years indoors, outdoors trad and sport climbing and winter mountaineering travelling to different parts of the UK with her husky Shadow and abroad climbing in Chamonix, Spain, Portugal, Crete, Greece, Tenerife, Morocco, and India and running expeditions in Morocco in the Atlas mountains.

Panel Discussions


Hear from a selection of companies in the industry about what they’ve done to reduce their carbon footprint. They’ll discuss what works, what pitfalls to avoid, and how you can do it too.

Claims Defensibility

Auto Belays, Gyms and Route Setting in a commercial setting from a claims perspective.