Seeing Beyond Limits

MBA 11s Andrew Jensen and Alan Lock in a rare moment of repose

Berkeley MBA Students Prep for Pioneering Polar Expedition

Trekking up to 600 miles across Antarctica while pulling a 100-pound sled is a grueling endurance test for any adventurer, but for Alan Lock, MBA 11, (on right above) there’s an extra challenge: Alan has lost much of his vision to a degenerative eye condition, and hopes to become the first visually impaired person to cross Antarctica from the coast all the way to the South Pole.

He has organized a five-man expedition team that includes fellow MBA 11 Andrew Jensen (left). They plan to launch their sub-zero odyssey in December 2011, marking the 100th anniversary of the Robert Scott/Roald Amundsen race to the pole. To organize and fund the two-month trek, they formed Polar Vision, a nonprofit with the motto, “Seeing Beyond Limits.”

Those words reflect the personal boundary-testing taking place, as well as the expedition’s aim of raising funds and awareness for two sight charities: Guide Dogs for the Blind and Sightsavers. Lock wrote in CalBusiness that his diminishing vision has left him with a heightened appreciation of life’s fragility. “I became determined to follow as many of my dreams and ambitions as possible,” he said. These have included completing the 151-mile Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara, and rowing unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Financial Times has covered their quest, noting the usefulness of MBA skills in such an endeavor. In addition to Lock and Jensen, the team consists of a Tuck MBA student, an IMD MBA grad, and an experienced polar explorer. Lock told the FT that marketing courses led to a more refined approach to seeking sponsors; Operations helped address questions about provisioning and contingency levels; and Leading People shed light on how strong personality types cope in stressful situations.

Any current stress incurred by balancing MBA studies with the upcoming challenge is presumably being burned off in quantity about now, as Lock and Jensen spend numerous hours each week on endurance training and weight lifting—sometimes simultaneously: “Alan and I have been dragging tires behind us to simulate dragging sleds,” says Jensen. The team plans to commence polar training in the Yukon next March—which should make a run at July’s San Francisco Marathon a breeze.

To learn more, view the team’s Polar Vision video. Take a look at the end goal in its icy splendor on the South Pole webcam.

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