Environmental leader, public speaker and polar explorer Robert Swan, OBE, is a known name globally. He has founded 2041, whose mission is to preserve the Antarctica and promote recycling, the use of renewable energy and working towards preserving combating the effects of climate change. It is the next generation of leaders who need to take on the responsibility of working aggressively to preserve our planet that has been vandalized by the pursuit of convenience and the extravagant use of plastic. This earth of ours is threatened. And Swan, using his expertise and knowledge of this southernmost continent of our globe takes expeditions of carefully selected leaders and educators to visit this fragile region.

A fragile region, cold and unapproachable, unfriendly and very sparsely populated, the Antarctica is quite forbidding to the common man. Besides being remote, it needs a lot of preparation and guidance from someone who is familiar with this part of our world. People who go there have to be carefully selected and groomed for the expedition.

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In 2011, The International Antarctic Expedition, 2011 took a group of people to visit this continent that is twice the size of Australia. Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies (KIAMS) faculty – Priya Venkatesh (36) was selected for it. Her mission as an educator was to help make the world a better, greener, less threatened planet. Priya, while being a leader is a learner first.
Sir Robert Swan, who was in India during the early part of 2011 impressed Prof. Priya a great deal. She thought about visiting the Antarctic under his guidance a lot. “An explorer at heart, I am definitely concerned about the environment but wouldn’t call myself an environmentalist,” Prof. Priya says. Yet, she found herself wanting to go there more and more with each passing day. Emails and telecons crossed continents and Priya Venkatesh was given the go ahead. She had to get her funding together, though. Luckily, she managed, thanks to KIAMS. “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,” she says.

With each passing day, as she prepared to engross the region many have only dreamed about. With each passing day, excitement mounted. Till it was finally there. Priya was actually in the Antarctica. She saw her first real life penguin. “It was on Petermann Island and was absolutely lovely. All black and white. Just like I had imagined it would be,” she smiles. Other notable experiences included camping on Cuverville Island, the Polar Plunge, and sitting all by herself on the top of Neko Harbour which is part of mainland Antarctica, and is about 800 miles walking distance from the South Pole. “Oh! And I saw a humpback whale – point blank.”

The trip was not void of some gruesome murder. “Yup. I watched a Leopard Seal hunt and kill a Penguin.” Yikes!

Although very well planned and organized, the trip was not all hunky dory. It did have its share of tests. “The biggest challenge 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.”
Totally hooked to adventure and thrill, Priya would love to do, “A trip to the Andromeda Galaxy! Fascinating, Exciting, Lots in store to learn and discover, Preparing for the unknown!”
Back to real life Prof. Priya returns to KIAMS and teaching enriched by her 2041 experience. She brings back a very important message for her students and the youth of today. “Judicious consumption of resources (especially 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.”

On the personal front she brings back a fantastic network of like-minded friends and resources from all over the world and a renewed belief in herself and her abilities to make things possible.