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Jane Cordell

Jane Cordell


Jane Cordell is one of the UK’s leading professional experts on deafness and disability issues in the workplace. She lost her hearing as a young adult but despite this setback rose to a senior position in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She resigned from the diplomatic service after the FCO refused to pay for the overseas postings she needed to reach the highest level.

She now is on the Board of Disability Rights UK and developing a new career as a coach and social entrepreneur. Jane is a Trustee of Manchester Deaf Centre and from 2012 will be Chair of the UK’s largest international disability arts festival, Da Da Fest.

As a keynote speaker Jane Cordell brings a powerfully different perspective and impresses audiences with her insight and her self-effacing, or even dark, humour. She has been described as ‘gloriously inspirational’ and as a coach ‘particularly gifted at inspiring others’ with ‘infectious optimism’.

Jane’s remarkable talents have taken her from music (she is an accomplished viola player) to teaching and then to diplomacy. As part of her diplomatic training she learned to speak Polish to a significant operational standard, the first time this has ever been done by a deaf British person.

As First Secretary (Political/Military) at the British Embassy in Warsaw she had lead responsibility for working with the Polish government on many sensitive European security issues. She also did pioneering work with the Polish Parliament to promote disability awareness across Poland, including making many speeches in Polish to large audiences and appearing on TV and radio. She was given several awards for this work and nominated for a Presidential Order of Merit (which diplomatic protocol prevented her accepting).

Jane expected to leave Warsaw to move on to a more senior posting in Asia, but the Foreign Office refused to continue to pay the extra expenses needed to support a deaf person in that role. After extended litigation on this decision Jane left the FCO in January 2012 to start a new private career.

She now focuses on promoting equality in the workplace via her charity leadership, coaching, mentoring and speaking work. She has taken part in BBC Radio 4, BBC 2 and BBC Breakfast broadcasts.

Jane Cordell’s unique, inspiring life story proves that people can thrive in even the most challenging circumstances. She offers audiences strategies for handling even the most unwelcome changes on their own terms. She is refreshingly hard-headed and realistic about issues that make many people uncomfortable, tackling her themes with a positive sharp humour and unfailing optimism.


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