Antarctica is the highest, driest, coldest, and windiest continent on earth, with an average annual temperature of -50ºC. It contains 70% of the world’s freshwater and 90% of the world’s ice. It is home to many species of penguin—but no polar bears.
For 12 AkzoNobel employees in the company’s Mission Antarctica leadership program, it proved a most effective classroom for studying the issues of sustainability and, in particular, leadership as it relates to having a positive impact on the environment.
“My journey to Antarctica has helped me to better understand the climate, the changes that are obviously taking place around the globe and the ways in which we can help to protect the environment,” said Julia Ivanov, senior technical chemist in AkzoNobel’s global personal care division. “I also appreciate the responsibility I have to motivate others to do the same—by putting my words into actions and by taking on leadership responsibilities with the full knowledge that assuming that someone else will do this is not an option.”
The group was part of the Inspire Antarctic Expedition led by the noted polar explorer Robert Swan in the spring of 2009. In all, 71 people from 28 nations and a variety of firms including Coca-Cola and Hewlett-Packard, gathered in Ushuaia in southern Argentina to participate in a nearly two-week adventure that began with passage on the expedition vessel Ioffe south to Cape Horn and through the notorious Drake Passage, a stretch of ocean infamous for its rough seas and mountainous waves.
Photos courtesy of AkzoNobel