Rising to the Challenge Conference: Stormwater Australia announced trio of inspirational keynote speakers – Kim Stephens, Rachel Robertson and Michael Groom – for Stormwater16

Note to Reader:

In April 2016, Stormwater Australia announced the three inspirational keynote speakers for STORMWATER 2016, the 4th National Conference convened by Stormwater Australia. The three were invited to provide different forms of inspiration – Kim Stephens (technical), Rachel Robertson (leadership) and Michael Groom (perseverance).

Download Rising to the Challenge to view the final program for the Stormwater Australia 2016 conference, a biannual event.


Kim A Stephens

An engineer-planner, Kim Stephens has more than four decades of experience. This covers the continuum of water resource and infrastructure engineering issues and applications, from master planning and modelling to implementation of capital projects.

He specializes in public policy and professional development, and has played a leadership role in a series of initiatives in British Columbia related to water conservation and sustainability, watershed health, rainwater management and green infrastructure.

In 1997, he was a member of the Ministry of Environment Working Group that developed A Water Conservation Strategy for British Columbia, released in 1998.

Circa 2000, Kim looked at rainfall differently and developed the Water Balance Methodology that the provincial government then incorporated in Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia, released in 2002.

In 2003, Kim was asked by the provincial government to develop the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia, released in 2004. Ever since, Kim has been responsible for Action Plan program delivery and evolution. This program includes leading the Georgia Basin Inter-Regional Educational Initiative. Five regions representing 75% of BC’s population are partners in the initiative.

Kim is the principal author and editor of Beyond the Guidebook 2015: Moving Towards “Sustainable Watershed Systems, through Asset Management”, released in November 2015.

Kim has received wide recognition for his pioneering efforts. This includes a Premier’s Award for Excellence and Innovation (2009). Also, he has been invited to speak on ‘the BC experience’ and make keynote presentations at forums throughout North America, as well as in Australia (2001). In 2015, for example, he was invited by United States Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont to provide inspirational remarks at the 2nd Leahy Environmental Summit.

Prior to embarking on his current provincial role in 2003, Kim Stephens was a vice-president and project manager with CH2M Hill, one of North America’s largest environmental engineering organizations.

About the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC:

The Partnership for Water Sustainability is a legal entity, incorporated in 2010 as a not-for-profit society. It originated as an inter-governmental partnership, formed in 2002 to fund and develop the Water Balance Model as a web-based decision support tool.

When the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia (Action Plan) was released in 2004, the Water Balance Model for BC was the centrepiece initiative. Action Plan experience informed development of Living Water Smart, British Columbia’s Water Plan, released in 2008.

The Partnership embraces shared responsibility, is the hub for a “convening for action” network in the local government setting, and is responsible for delivering the Action Plan program through partnerships and collaboration.

The Partnership plays a bridging role between Province, local government and community; and is the steward for Stormwater Planning: A Guidebook for British Columbia. The Partnership mantra is ‘develop tools and talent, and focus on outcomes’.

Rachel Robertson

Rachael Robertson is a dynamic leader and superbly strategic thinker under the most challenging circumstances. She successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station – only the second female to lead a team at the Station and one of the youngest-ever leaders.

Rachael is also a best-selling author, Australia’s pre-eminent authority on extreme leadership and Australia’s most booked female speaker. Her talents are in great demand from leading organisations around the globe.

As a keynote speaker and facilitator at over 700 national and international conferences and events, Rachael Robertson shares what it was like to be a leader in such an intense and unique situation – and the many valuable leadership lessons she learnt during her time of exploration and discovery.

Michael Groom

A professional mountaineer and speaker, Michael Groom’s story of how he overcame severe challenges to climb the world’s largest mountains is truly inspiring.

In 1987 Michael became the first Australian to climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, without the use of bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. However when descending the mountain, Michael became temporarily blinded and was forced to spend the night exposed to the elements at above 8000m. Michael suffered serious frostbite, resulting in a third of both his feet being amputated. He was told he would never walk again.

Facing life in a wheelchair, Michael applied sheer will and determination to learn to walk again. Three years later he successfully climbed Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth highest mountain. In 1996 Michael joined Rob Hall’s calamitous Mt Everest attempt in which eight climbers died. Of all those who reached the summit, only Michael and Into Thin Air author, Jon Krakauer, survived.

Michael went on to become the first Australian to reach the top of the world’s five most challenging mountains; Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu.

In 2000 Michael’s remarkable story was made into a documentary by the Australian Film Corporation. His book Sheer Will, published in 1997 and updated in 1999 and 2000, is a can’t-put-down read.