The better the question. The better the answer. The better the world works.

How an expedition can show what exceptional teaming looks like

Discover how EY people embarked on one of Earth’s most daunting expeditions, and what lessons on teamwork they brought back to their peers.

Related topics Workforce Growth Trust
Barranco camp milky way Kilimanjaro Tanzania
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The better the question

How can a small team’s test of willpower inspire a global organization?

A unique venture can show the true meaning of teaming.

At EY, we measure the highest performing teams by their level of collaboration, their shared vision and their concern for each other’s success, but these are outcomes that don’t tell the full story of how a group of individuals come together to work as one.

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The better the answer

The climb

A journey up Mt. Kilimanjaro truly tests the importance and meaning of teamwork

Last year, leadership in the Middle East and North Africa region set out to create a visceral example of teamwork at its finest. They asked for EY volunteers to embark on one of Earth’s most daunting expeditions — the ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro — to see what it could teach them about teamwork and what lessons they could bring back to their peers. While many answered the call, 30 people of 13 different nationalities — ranging across various ranks and service lines — were selected to participate in the journey, each using the platform to donate to charities close to their hearts.

Most of the adventurers did not previously know each other, but they needed to quickly transform into a high-performing team to succeed in such a perilous journey. Early on, they had to establish mutual trust by acknowledging each individual’s strengths, weaknesses and fears. Communication can be the difference between life and death on the mountain, and through daily check-ins and feedback meetings, the group was able to assess what was working and what wasn’t along the way. If someone’s fitness became a concern, the group adapted to support them, whether that meant giving spirit-lifting motivation or physically carrying them to the next destination. No matter what it took, each individual selflessly put aside their individual needs for the good of the team. While a few members had to return to base over the course of the journey, 26 EY people reached the highest point in Africa.

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The better the world works

From one journey to the next

Participants are taking the lessons they learned from the mountain to the office.

The summit was the end of one journey, but it sparked the beginning of a new one. The team returned ignited with a desire to bring the lessons they learned on the mountain to teams at EY and beyond. Traits like patience, preparation and diversity are often spoken about when it comes to teamwork, but the extremes of the human condition illuminate how necessary they can be when the comforts of day-to-day life are stripped away. Through social media posts and a series of videos (called “Naked Leadership on Mt. Kilimanjaro”), the team is teaching professionals how these basic ingredients of great teams can be taken from the base camp and be applied in the boardroom. The videos have been shared through different forums across the EY Middle East and North Africa region and are being further embedded in team meetings and conversations with colleagues.

“This experience reminded us that it is people that make a difference in our business, and that when we have closely connected, committed teams delivering to our clients, we truly demonstrate our competitive advantage as an organization,” says participant Scott Forrester.

When your goal is extremely difficult to reach, it becomes easier to sacrifice individuality to work as a team; but through this expedition, this group has created a model of effective teamwork for any team working toward any goal. They’re teaching professionals everywhere lessons few have ever been brave enough to learn.