2041 was founded by polar explorer, environmental leader and public speaker Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. Swan has dedicated his life to the preservation of Antarctica by the promotion of recycling, renewable energy and sustainability to combat the effects of climate change. 2041’s mission is to build on Swan’s dedication by informing, engaging and inspiring the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, to be sustainable, and to know that now is the time for action in policy development, business generation and future technologies.

2041 led the first corporate expedition to Antarctica in 2003, during which 42 people from 18 nations joined Robert on his ‘Leadership on the Edge’ program. Since then, over 400 corporate leaders, educators, students and entrepreneurs from around the world have experienced Antarctica with the 2041 team.

The purpose of the expedition was to groom ambassadors for education, the environment and sustainability across the globe. Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies’ faculty Priya Venkatesh, 36, undertakes the journey to take a step towards making the globe a better place to live in. Below is a telephonic interview that we conducted with Prof. Priya where she speaks about being a leader and a learner.

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1. How did you get associated with the 2041 project?

Sir Robert Swan had partnered with Sanctuary on an assignment in India early this year. A couple of mail exchanges, a few phone calls and I was given a go ahead – I still had to get the funding!

2.  Would you like to call yourself an environmentalist or an explorer?

An explorer at heart, I am definitely concerned about the environment but wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist.

3. What was the specific agenda of the journey you undertook with team 2041?

The primary agenda of the journey with 2041 was to appreciate the beauty of the Antarctic continent, to understand our impact on Antarctica and her impact on us and to spread awareness about the moratorium and how we can ensure the survival of Antarctica and consequently our own.

4.  Narrate your few very interesting experiences of the 15days tour to Antarctica.

1. The first penguin sighting on Petermann Island

2. Camping out on Cuverville Island

3. The Polar Plunge

4. Sitting all by myself at the top of Neko Harbour (which is part of mainland Antarctica, about 800 miles walking distancefrom the South Pole)

5. Sighting a Humpback Whale at point blank

6. Watching a Leopard Seal hunt and kill a Penguin

5.  An explorer comes across challenges every minute during his/her venture. Tell us of few such challenges that came your way and how did you overcome them.

To be honest, the Antarctic expedition was extremely well planned with little scope for unexpected challenges. Still the biggest challenge however was overcoming sea sickness on board the ship and the braving the wind power on hikes. The first one I managed by playing games with my mind and the second with the help of friends – we had to support each other holding hands.

6.  If given a chance to head a similar sort of expedition, where would you like it to be?  Why?

A trip to the Andromeda Galaxy! Fascinating, Exciting, Lots in store to learn and discover, Preparing for the unknown!

7. How do you co-relate the experiences of your travelling with your management classes?

It’s a journey very similar to the one a management student would have to deal with in his/her life in a corporate.

New people, diverse team members, unknown territory, uncertain conditions, harsh environment, Satisfaction of having been there, done that.

There’s a tremendous amount of learning I gathered through my experiences before, during and after the expedition which is directly linked to what I teach (and don’t teach) at KIAMS.

8.  Which is your most favorite book and why?

The Celestine Prophecy. The book came to me at a time in life when I was going through very intense self work and it completely reinforced my understanding of life and the Universe.

9. How has KIAMS been helping you in pursuing your passion? 

KIAMS has always been an extremely open and supportive system to anything new and challenging which has the potential to add value to its students.

I consider myself fortunate to be associated with this institute. KIAMS was one of the first organizations to encourage my venture and put across my funding requirement to its network.

10. What are the two most valuable things that you bring back from your experience of Antarctica?

1. A fantastic network of like-minded friends and resources from all over the world.
2. A renewed belief in myself and my abilities to make things possible.

11. Message for your students and friends.

Judicious consumption of resources (esp. energy), adopting green practices, using renewable energy wherever possible and avoiding wastage of resources in our families, organizations and communities is the one and only way to a sustainable future.

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