As promised, Subash and I have downloaded several of our favorite pictures to share. From the bluest blues to the whitest whites – and the abundant wildlife, Antarctica was breathtaking. Enjoy!
As promised, Subash and I have downloaded several of our favorite pictures to share. From the bluest blues to the whitest whites – and the abundant wildlife, Antarctica was breathtaking. Enjoy!
Sitting back at my desk in London having traveled 18,000 miles there and back, I realized I had completely underestimated the impact Antarctica would have on me. As I sat on a beach surrounded by penguins on my final day on the continent, I took in my surroundings and sighed in awe. I was amazed by where I was, what our team had achieved, what the other expedition members had accomplished and by Antarctica itself. When I stood up to walk back to the boat for the final time it was overwhelming. I was excited to get home and start inspiring others, to see my colleagues and show them I had managed to retain all of my fingers and toes… but walking away from the ‘world’s last wilderness’ put a lump in my throat that is hard to describe. I have no doubt the privilege of spending time in Antarctica will stay with me for the rest of my life.
So what has 3 weeks spent on the other side of the world, hurling ourselves into unknown territory, out of our comfort zones and into absolute, unrivalled utopia taught us? I asked the team to take some time to reflect on the experience and summarize their key takeaways:
Sam: Traveling with the 2041 Foundation has been a life changing opportunity. A privilege that brings with it a sense of responsibility to make some changes both as an individual but also to identify and lead something more meaningful and with greater impact.
Prateek: I have three key takeaways from the expedition. First, memories of a lifetime: unforgettable adventures in the last great wilderness on the planet. Second, a step change in my understanding of climate change and sustainability, and a network of friends from across the world that shares my passion for sustainability. The last, but perhaps the most important takeaway, is an even greater sense of ownership of the world around us, and a strong desire to drive some much needed changes to preserve it.
Subash: Back in London, it is becoming obvious that the biggest challenge is returning to the humdrum of daily life. But what is exciting is the friendships we’ve formed and the ideas we have to pursue going forwards. For me, that is pushing Bain to further help clients to embed sustainability into their everyday business practices.
Neysa: Despite the warnings given by the 2041 alumni we interviewed prior to our trip, I’m struggling to get back into normal life. I am certainly looking at the world through a different lens; having always been an environmentalist/conservationist, I am seeing more waste around me – the magazines and pamphlets dropped in my foyer, all the little bottles and servings at the market, paper towels in the bathrooms… And I want to do something. It does relate back to the beautiful environment, the pristine water, and white-white snow/blue-blue ice. But it also relates to being surrounded by inspiring people who want to make a difference in this world and taking some of that energy. I realize how honored we were to be able to sit with each one of the expedition members to hear more about their stories, what they did to become a part of the expedition and what they plan to, and will, do after. I look forward to keeping in touch with them and continuing our commitment to Antarctica and our Earth.
Harri: For me, this was an adventure to rival all others. I have devoted much of my time to exploring our fascinating world, yet Antarctica’s pristine beauty overwhelmed me. I think the most valuable experience of all was being exposed to 77 fascinating, enthusiastic individuals, all passionate about doing the right thing and making a difference in this world. Now we all have to use our empowering story to drive change.
I’ve witnessed first-hand the impact Bain can have on helping to shape these individuals’ social impact plans and I felt proud not only to be on the expedition, but to be a Bainie on the ship, working to make a genuine difference. Personally, I’ve learned the importance of fighting for what you believe in and ‘being your own master’ from some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. I believe I will be able to make more measured, relevant decisions because of this trip and expect the experience will shape my career and indeed my life. For the team, Antarctica inspired us and empowered us with the story and motivation to continue working with these extraordinary individuals to make a difference.
So what now? Well it’s not the end of the story for the Bain Antarctica Team. We have a huge amount to do to keep up with the social impact projects coming out of the expedition and to help 2041 achieve its goals. What 2041 does is unique, the effects tangible, and if we can help them unlock the behavior changes needed around the globe to help secure a more sustainable approach to living, then that’s got to be great. Keep an eye on the blog for more updates (and photos.)
As a final thought, I’ll just say it would be easy to get hung up on Antarctica withdrawal symptoms, but as I keep reminding myself, this is merely the end of the beginning. Bain & Company is committed to ‘doing the right thing’ regarding sustainability, and saving Antarctica is part of that. After all, I should know; I’ve been there.
“After camping, cruising and a survival skills workshop, a puzzled penguin audience observed Prateek Majumdar of questionable sanity, plunge into 2°C Antarctic waters…” so reads the certificate that the ship crew gave me after I jumped into the sea for a swim, amidst icebergs, whales, penguins and seals. The last 2 weeks have been nothing short of phenomenal – climbing glaciers, jumping across crevasses, camping out in the Antarctic, swimming in ice-cold water – and exploring the last great wilderness on the planet!
I started out on this expedition, thinking that this would be a wonderful adventure – but after having had the privilege of experiencing the Antarctic, I now return with one question: what do we need to do to make sure that we preserve this? To me Antarctica is a symbol – a land which hasn’t witnessed a single war, where man and nature live in harmony, a fragile continent which serves as a barometer for the health of the world. The day we pollute the world enough, the greenhouse effect will melt the ice in the Antarctic – leading to ~60m increase in sea level across the world, which will drown many great cities and low lying agricultural lands.
The UN wants to restrict man-made global warming to 2°C – though many scientists believe that such an increase will lead to mass extinction of many species from the planet. According to some estimates, we are already losing more than 10,000 species per year (though I don’t believe that statistic – the fact remains that an increase in temperature will make many species extinct, and ruin our ecological balance). According to the site www.trillionthtonne.org – we will reach this mark (2°C increase in temperature) by the year 2041, at current rates of CO2 emission. 2041 is just 28 years away – we will be affected directly by this…this is no longer a problem that future generations need to solve.
But how do we restrict global warming to 2°C? Emerging countries will have to develop and increase their emissions while doing so – India and China have too many mouths to feed…we cannot stop developing to save the planet. We cannot stop using fossil fuels, because other forms of energy just haven’t become scalable enough. As per some estimates, the largest coal based power plant in the world generates ~250 times more power than the largest wind energy plant, and ~3000 times more power than the largest solar power plant. And in any case, the estimated gap between demand for energy and its supply by 2050 will be around the total energy consumption in the US in the year 2000. The answer perhaps lies in using a mix of energy sources, reducing waste and recycling whatever we can – as individuals, corporations and societies.
Anyone and everyone has the power to reduce their own and their societies’ carbon footprint, but as Bainies we also have an incredible power to work with corporations. There are numerous examples which prove that sustainability is good for business – it reduces costs (Walmart is believed to have identified $10B savings from packaging efficiencies alone, as part of their sustainability program), opens new avenues for increasing revenues (P&G’s Tide Coldwater saves $60 in home energy use and as per some estimates, has already realized profits of $13.1B), improves brand (with customers and with employees), and helps manage risk (eg: oil and gas companies like Shell and BP are exploring alternate sources of energy, to mitigate potential risks with fossil fuels). Isn’t it time for us all to focus more on sustainability?
Over and out!
As the snow covered tops of the Antarctic landscape recede into the distance I have been overcome by a sense of how far we have come and, more importantly, how far we still have to go.
Hopefully the team’s prior posts have given you a sense of our experiences over the last fortnight – of the spectacular scenery and the inspirational people we have met – and I can only add that if you ever get a chance to visit, you must. Visiting Antarctica adds a sense of perspective about our place on earth that cannot be conveyed by words or images.
And I believe that, at least in some small way, this Bain team has contributed to its preservation come 2041.
We set out last month with the explicit goal of helping participants on the expedition to achieve results when they returned home. Through a series of workshops to the entire group and a colossal amount of 1-on-1 conversations, I believe we have successfully helped set participants up for success.
The framework of an Individual Results Plan for each team member to complete was simply a mechanism through which the Bain team could help illustrate the range of issues that must be tackled in order to achieve change, wherever and whatever you want that to be. Define your project clearly, put together a compelling story to motivate those around you, figure out who your key stakeholders are and put together a plan. These are the building blocks around which the Bain Results Delivery program is based and they are the fundamental building blocks that I would encourage anyone taking on a project to think about closely.
What I have found most fulfilling and inspiring about the expedition was the chance to help a series of wonderfully talented and passionate individuals to achieve their goals – be it an Australian student who wants to make her university 100% renewable, a Swedish environmental journalist who wants to mobilize her audience to pursue their own environmental ambitions, or a UK utilities employee who has grand energy efficiency ambitions for the whole country. For Bainies to work alongside participants and to learn about themselves whilst helping shape the change the world needs is incredibly exciting!
The fact that Bain has supported this project is a testament to our culture. I have now personally experienced how our company helps its people to pursue their passions. Bain helped ship five of its team off to lend their skills to a goal that each of them is passionate about.
It is also a cause that we are passionate about as a firm. Bain is committed to helping clients embed sustainability into their everyday business practices. This expedition has served to bring home to me why this is so important. We live in a closed system where resources are finite and human wants are infinite. There has to be a way to square the circle, and business plays a fundamental role in achieving this. We are committed to being part of that solution.
Busy with preparing for the program and participating in the expedition (as well as spending time getting to know the amazing people on the ship with us), this is my first chance to sit down and write about what we have done and what we have learned with Results Delivery®.
Sam gave some great highlights of the work we’re doing, I’ll add a little more… Stepping back to provide a bit more context, each expedition member had been challenged by Robert Swan and the 2041 team to come up with a project, a personal mission they will execute when they return home. In fact, no one would be on this ship without first convincing Rob of their passion for sustainability, the environment, climate change, and/or leadership. Our role, simply stated, was to help participants deliver on these promises.
Through full group presentations, workshops, and individual coaching sessions, we’ve been able to interact with all expedition members to help teach them about change, to look out for and mitigate delivery risks, and to develop their ideas into achievable results plans.
Taking our standard Results Delivery® toolkit and customizing it for this venue and international audience, we created a practical template to challenge each individual to think more about what and who to change, their compelling story, how to engage a supportive network, creating an achievable plan, and then continuing momentum and energy to sustain change.
We also linked the experiences and activities we were undertaking on the expedition back to change – real, live metaphors. For example:
The individual projects are remarkable and will each have huge impact in different ways. They range from a bank training program on sustainability, a consumer products company’s culture change and green initiatives, an energy company regionalizing its climate change efforts, and teachers going back and building a curriculum around Antarctica, recycling/reuse, and the environment. Community projects include reducing plastic bag use in the Middle East and England, teaching mothers in China to reuse water, developing an empowerment program for teenagers in India, solar cooking in Brazil, and much more. We also spent some time with the ship’s crew who are involved outside of tour season in reducing and recycling waste as well as other social issues like land mine and bomb disarmament.
The concept of a results plan has certainly been internalized for this year’s expedition with Robert, the 2041 team leaders, and expedition members all talking about results plans. Ya llegará la hora de la verdad of our value-add will be to see what greater impact this year’s participants have when they get back home and what role Results Delivery plays in coming year’s expeditions.
We hope we have armed the 2041 family with the tools and knowledge to “inspire change” (as one of our African teammates said.) I know the Bain team is bringing back lessons on sustainability, climate change, and Antarctica, which we expected, but we are also bringing back with us the humility of recognizing how much people do around the world for humanity and our Earth…and the inspiration to do more ourselves.
It has been difficult to share all of our experiences while on the boat – but we plan to share more once we are back on land. I can say with certainty, however, that Antarctica has left an indelible impression on each of us. As we draw near the end of our expedition, I wanted to summarize the impact that this expedition and the 2041 Foundation can have on our global community. In addition to illustrating and informing the participants across diverse topics of leadership, climate change and sustainability, this expedition has generated or strengthened over seventy social impact projects around the globe.
Bain & Company has been given the opportunity to help shape the plans for each of these projects. We have trained all of the participants in our Results Delivery® framework and tool kit. We have spent several hours in one on one sessions challenging and supporting the compelling story behind each project as well as helping people to identify the sponsorship spine they need to engage when they get home. We have helped to instill the discipline of needing an achievable plan in order to build momentum and energy behind an idea. The most fascinating part of our challenge has been to identify the one or two key behaviors we are seeking to change.
Our work does not stop tomorrow. We will have 30 and 100 day check-ins with those who value our support. Having bundled the 70 or so projects by genre, there are five main groups. Split roughly into categories of education, corporate sustainability, reduction, recycling and re-use. Projects include the following :
There are over 65 other projects. We hope the impact of this expedition and the resulting projects will be seen and felt across the globe. And may this be another giant step forward in helping Robert and the 2041 team make as much of an impact on Antarctica as Antarctica has made on us.
For the past week, it has been Climate Week in my home country of Britain. Thousands are taking up the challenge to combat climate change. To say that it has been inspirational to be in Antarctica on a journey for sustainability during this time would be an understatement. We are honored to be part of such an important mission and to know that many others join us in the quest.
Part of our mission is to help advance sustainable leadership – and that starts with identifying the qualities that a great leader possesses. Before leaving on this expedition, we developed a list of questions to ask participants about their perspectives on leadership – their experiences within their companies or professional lives, the types of training they have been exposed to, and the qualities of leadership that they have found particularly inspiring in others. I have been interviewing people for the past few days and their responses have been varied and interesting. There are a few trends emerging, however.
I spoke today with the owner of a fourth generation family business, a small conglomerate of international businesses. He mentioned his father’s leadership qualities. How he set a vision, communicated it to the people around him and inspired them to work hard for him to achieve it. Likewise, a younger man who works in business consulting also cited a parent, in this case his mother. It was her qualities of empathy and support that he found particularly inspirational.
This evening we heard the second part of Robert Swan’s story. He pulled out some leadership themes as well. Being relevant was an important one. Thinking about the people you are trying to inspire and being relevant to them, their priorities and motivations. Inclusivity was another, being aware of creating diverse teams and then remembering to keep people feeling a part of that team, in a way that is a relevant and good for them. Promises, commitment and consistency were other themes. Doing what you said you would do, so long as it is still relevant of course – reliability and sticking to your word.
A final thought from someone I interviewed today. He said that leadership of different people was comparable to two snowflakes, no two are ever the same. How you lead someone needs to flex to suit their needs to get the very best out of them. If the varied answers to my questions on leadership are anything to go by, then this is certainly true!