Akzo Nobel’s 12 Antarctic adventurers have returned after taking part in this year’s Leadership on the Edge expedition run by polar explorer Robert Swan and his 2041 organization.
The company’s employees were among a group of around 80 people who participated in this year’s program, which ran from March 13 to 26 and included a full seven days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula.
“The Akzo Nobel team has been absolutely outstanding,” said Swan at the end of the voyage. “They’ve worked very well together from across various business units. I think they’re all fired up and they are desperately keen to pass on what they have learned from this experience. They are primed and ready to inspire their colleagues and want to get stuck in and do a fantastic job for the company.”
This year was the sixth time Swan has conducted a leadership expedition to the so-called white continent and it was an extraordinary adventure. Not only did they witness the partial collapse of a giant tabular iceberg, but they also saw a plethora of wildlife and experienced a hurricane in the notorious Drake Passage on the return journey.
“To be honest, it’s impossible to describe Antarctica, because mere words can’t do it justice. There aren’t enough superlatives in any language that can convey what it is like to be there,” explained Akzo Nobel’s corporate editorial manager David Lichtneker, who was one of the company’s team members.
“We’ve seen it in all its breathtaking beauty and been left awestruck by its sheer majesty, now we have to stand up and be the ambassadors we pledged to become when we first set out on this incredible adventure.”
As well as the leadership aspect, the expedition also had a strong environmental angle, driven by Swan’s lifetime commitment to preserving Antarctica as the last great wilderness on Earth.
“We now have to engage others, both on a personal and professional level, and I think we can make a difference,” said team member Joakim Carlén from the company’s Eka Chemicals business in Sweden. “My views on sustainability have certainly widened and I know I’ve grown as a person.”
Added Delando Hawthorne from Car Refinishes in Canada: “Sustainability is mission critical to all elements of our business, regardless of what function you’re in. I was pretty much on the fence before the expedition, but having seen a huge iceberg disintegrate, that really opened my eyes to the reality of global warming and made me realize that something needs to be done.”
Not one to sit back and relax, Swan is about to embark on his next mission—The Voyage For Cleaner Energy—which involves sailing around the United States during the next two years to inspire young people and promote the use of renewable energy resources. He will be traveling in a yacht which has been coated inside and out by Akzo Nobel.
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