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​Never too young to dream big

Published on: 18-Jun-2018

Under the leadership of Robert Swan (left), NBS alumna Sona Jain (centre) and 91 other explorers experienced the climate changes impacting Antarctica firsthand, at the shores of Antarctica earlier this year.

For someone who grew up in a small town in India with limited electricity supply and water, NBS alumna Sona Jain witnessed how natural resources were abused after being relocated to Bangalore. Since then, she started to dream of doing something that can influence others to be good to the earth 

It might just be coincidental but Sona got a chance to associate herself with some sustainability initiatives of her former employer in India. This was the place where she met Robert Swan, the founder of 2041 Foundation.  

Robert founded the 2041 Foundation* with a mission to inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility and be sustainable. He is dedicated to the preservation of Antarctica through the promotion of sustainability practices. 

It has been Sona’s dream to participate in this expedition and she reached out to many companies to seek sponsorship.

“I managed to raise about 80% of the total expedition cost through sponsorships. Nanyang Business School is one of them and I am truly grateful to my alma mater for supporting the mission,” Sona said. 

“I want to meet like-minded people, inspire and get inspired to create a ripple effect in our communities to drive sustainable change of our mindset and behaviour,” she added.

Before embarking on this expedition, the explorers had to go through a series of workshops and presentations to learn about climate change and carbon footprint.

During the expedition, there were several occasions when Sona felt very challenged and had thoughts of giving up. 

According to Sona, the weather changed so fast that they had to adapt quickly. “It could turn from bright to cloudy in just a few minutes. On certain days, we experienced clear skies to snowfall in no time,” she said. 

The explorers were also told that the strong winds of the Antarctica are caused by climate change.

Sona said, “I’ve never been to a place colder than the Antarctica. The wind on certain days felt like needles poking into the skin! But I am now more grounded and vulnerable to accept the fragility in our ecosystem.”

Going to a continent with no civilisation came with lots of responsibility. Sona and her teammates lost their way while trying to make a landing on one of the Antarctic islands, which was about 20 minutes from the main ship. 

After spending two weeks in the Antarctica, Sona returned to Singapore on 12 March. 

Sona, an account manager at Microsoft, said the expedition will benefit her at work. According to her, the company has an extensive focus on sustainability. Besides making its operations sustainable, it also leverages on technology to empower customers to create sustainable businesses. 

She said, “It is critical that the business leaders of today and young business leaders of tomorrow fully understand the consequences of what sustainability means to their families, businesses and communities. The choices we make will differentiate great business leaders from good leaders.”

Through this expedition, she is glad to become a part of the community of very diverse professionals who are willing to share and learn best practices and spread awareness in whatever possible. 

Participating in this expedition was a rewarding experience for Sona and it was like a dream come true. 

When asked about some of her plans, Sona said she has “returned with a commitment to Robert”.

“I will make a positive impact to retain the authenticity of the landscapes around me wherever I go,” Sona said.

One of the things she intends to do in the next few months is to plant 8,000 trees by end of this year. 

She said, “As an individual, I never thought of offsetting my own carbon footprint and the best way to do that is to plant more trees.” 

She also hopes to empower the youths by working with schools, as well as raising community awareness by speaking about the topic of climate change. 

* 2041 Foundation was founded by polar explorer and environment Robert Swan, the first person to walk to both the North and South Poles. Its mission is to unite organisations, educators, and technology innovators who seek to protect our world and create a more sustainable, clean energy future.

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