Tell us a bit about who you are and what projects you are currently involved with?
I am 30 years old, have a lovely supportive partner (Kate), two step children (Albert and Connie) and a one year old son called Arthur. Based in Winchester, I own my own marketing agency that specialises in the outdoor leisure industry.
Can you remember much about your World Challenge expedition to Tanzania in 2001?
I remember the large majority… mainly the key significant (personal) moments but I suppose after 13 years the memory starts to fade a little. We kept a team diary where the appointed team leader of the day wrote an entry so I’m lucky enough to have a day-by-day document to refer back to.
Our trip was broken down into five main phases, acclimatisation, project work, safari, Mt. Kilimanjaro climb, and finally rest and relaxation in Zanzibar.
What motivated you to take part?
The opportunity to see such a vastly different part of the world appealed greatly; specifically a part of the world that was relatively untouched by tourism.
My school supported World Challenge over the years and I attended an in-house presentation by them. My friendship group at the time all seemed keen so it was the perfect opportunity to go and explore.
We were all particularly excited by the prospect of visiting a part of Africa and the variety of challenge and experience that the trip offered appealed immensely.
What did you learn from the experience?
That’s quite a difficult question to answer largely because there was so much. Not things that I necessarily learnt for the first time, but a great deal that I appreciated and understood more having been a part of the overall process.
If I had to list them I’d say, planning and organisation, teamwork, friendship, patience, empathy and understanding, gratitude, endurance, compassion and modesty.
Did it help mould you into the person that you are today?
A resounding yes! Without a doubt; the various different processes all offered something new and different but all contributed to the personality and individual I am today.
Would you recommend a World Challenge expedition to other students and why?
Another yes. What an amazing opportunity. Not everyone has the ability to travel the world whether that's due to their financial situation, confidence or time. Likewise, not everyone is made for it. World Challenge offers everyone from any background the opportunity to:
1. Work as a team to proactively raise funds for the expedition ensuring that once you’ve hit the target there are no ridiculous ‘hidden cost’ implications.
2. Offer security if you are not the most confident person while giving you the raw experience. They have experience of the environment you visit, help you plan every step and even have leaders that go with you. That’s not to say that the experiences are easy and handed to you on a plate, but certainly acts as reassurance.
3. Satisfy ‘the itch’; It’s a great and safe way to introduce yourself to travelling if you plan to do more, or acts as a great way to satisfy that ‘travel bug’ if you have educational or career paths that you want to immediately pursue.
Overall, in today’s world we are expected to grow up quicker than ever. It’s hard to move without being part of a fast-paced life where there is little to no chance of quiet reflection and the opportunity to genuinely experience brand new things first hand rather than through a screen.
So, before you wake up one day and realise that you have too much responsibility (e.g. children), less opportunity (I couldn’t possibly risk losing my job/ take that much time off work) or enthusiasm (it seems like a lot of effort) then get involved!
What were the highlights of the challenge?
My highlights, probably in order of personal importance, are:
1. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro – unforgettable, seeing the sunrise at Gilmans point and then carrying on to the summit. A moment that will be with me forever and one that offers me a great dinner party/over a pint story! So very special!
2. Project phase – working with a local school, hearing their stories and realising how I take so much for granted! This was an amazing week, both renovating classrooms and teaching. The ‘goodbye’ ceremony…WOW… I can still hear the whole school singing now!
3. Friendship – still being great friends with most of the group I went with. We will still regularly retell stories from the trip 13 years on (normally after too many beers). It’s a moment we shared and will remember together.
Did the information surrounding fitness and preparedness that you learned on your World Challenge expedition, stand you in good stead for your journeys?
Undoubtedly. Not only did it stand us in good stead for the journey but it also helped with the bond our group had before we got there. Undergoing the training, preparing and fundraising that we did, reinforced and stamped our individual ownership on the trip and brought us closer together as a group.
Have the lessons from your World Challenge expedition played a part in your career to date?
Not directly as I’m not a travel journalist or Bear Grylls (!) although it has helped me along the way. Most directly as an addition on my CV. It is a great point of interest in an interview and does place you apart from other applicants. I remember my first interview following the trip and the person carrying it out focused a lot on it. I got the job and a reason given was that I apparently had a clear sense of passion and enthusiasm that came out of the conversation.
Since becoming an employer and recruiting teams in the past, it is something I actively look for on a CV. The interpersonal skills that you develop on expedition have played a large part in my life both personally and professionally.
What tips would you give to anyone thinking about undertaking a significant challenge?
The first would be to consider it fully but not to overthink the decision. I am very risk adverse and remember too many discussions with friends and family as to whether or not I should go. If the opportunity is there and you can make the dates, go for it! It is probably unlikely that you will have such an amazing opportunity to do something similar later in life. Carpe diem as they say!
The second would be not to worry about the cost; you’ll be amazed how quickly you can raise the funds if you are proactive. Aim high when fundraising. Start as early as possible (as soon as you’ve signed up) and write to as many companies as possible, small, medium and large, regionally, nationally or even internationally asking for support. Have fun going through the preparation process; it is as important as the trip itself.
The third and final one would be not to let physical ability put you off. There are not many people that thought I would make it to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro for various reasons. There is no doubt that there will be physically demanding elements to your trip but not impossible… don’t feel like you need to be Mr (or Mrs) Motivator to go. It won’t be a walk in the park but that’s part of the experience.
What three things would you make sure you had with you on expedition?
I realise that I make myself sound like an old man (which I don’t consider 30 to be) but technology has come on a long way since my visit to Tanzania 13 years ago, so what I would have taken may seem like obvious items today but…
1) Quality Digital camera – to take as many high quality photos and videos as possible. I was limited to old school film. Although I got some good photos and as a group pulled together amazing shots, I do slightly regret not having better, clearer images of some parts of the trip.
2) MP3/Music Player – We travelled a lot whilst there and I’m a huge music fan. Some of the trip could have been made easier (long journeys) or more special with a soundtrack.
3) Notebook/Sketchbook – as I mentioned we did keep a group diary but I do wish I’d kept a more personal diary specific to me. I am keen (no good, but keen) on art so the opportunity to have made a few sketches of the places we visited would have been great too.
I appreciate that certainly the first two items could be satisfied with an iPhone today (or other devices) and I do embrace, use and understand the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and blogs in today’s society, however, where possible I would choose to unplug a little and not take one.
I didn’t have a mobile phone, I did miss my family and friends whilst away, although I did manage to send a few postcards (yes handwritten postcards!) but looking back now a large part of the experience for me was unplugging and the lack of communication with home; it made me feel a lot more independent; it made me enjoy and take in the immediate environment more with the people I was with and it made me appreciate home all the more when getting back.
What is next in the pipeline for you?
1. Try and be the best partner and father I can be.
2. Try and grow my business in order to provide for my family and leave a legacy.
3. Live, maximise and enjoy life.
Adam Shanley, Stourbridge – Tanzania 2001