David Lowrie: Accenture Alumni Interview

Transcript from a recent interview with my former company about how a wayward management consultant came to be running 35km a day, living in a tent, trying to raise money, awareness and inspire environmental action for South Americas wild places . . .

Over the coming year, we will look to profile Accenture UK alumni who
have gone on to do amazing, inspiring things. First up is Dave Lowrie
who is currently 500 miles into a challenge to be the first person to
run the length of South America, unsupported, in a year. See below for
more information about Dave’s journey.

I was in Accenture’s October 2000 start group and was one of the last to
join the company when it was known as Anderson Consulting. The thing
that I most loved about working at Accenture is that I had 10 careers by
the time I was 25!

My  most memorable experience was returning midway through a leave of
absence to help recover a release at one of our clients in a very short
period of time. I had just jumped off the plane after crewing my
parents’ little boat across the Pacific Ocean, had a shaved head, salty
skin, no work clothes whatsoever, but still walked straight onto the
client floor! As a thank you, the client partner paid for an incredible
weekend in Venice which really was memorable.

I left in the summer of 2008 after eight years with the company. There
were a few reasons behind this decision: I wanted to become more
involved in protecting and conserving the incredible wild places we
depend upon; I was conscious that there is a limit to how long one’s
body will support undertaking some serious physical challenges and;
lastly, I recognised that there is a limit to how long I could remain
without dependents! I said to myself that if I needed to more actively
engage in environmental work then the time was now.

With this in mind, I got married, turned 30 and bought a 50” wooden
sailing boat within a month of leaving Accenture. I set sail for South
America with a scratch crew of novices and a fair slice of hope. It was a
baptism of fire in which we were de-masted in a storm and plagued by an
amorous whale but made it across to the Caribbean more or less in one
piece. On arrival, Katharine (wife and a trained ecologist) and I
embarked on an intense, 18 month research voyage and made several
scientific discoveries surveying seabird breeding colonies. Afterwards,
we transited the Panama Canal and sailed wide arc across Chile, finally
spending several months sailing the incredible fjords of Patagonia, the
most remote, astoundingly beautiful and pristine place I have ever been
to. We rounded Cape Horn and arrived into Uruguay to leave our floating
home in safe waters to start the biggest challenge of our lives…

We’re currently 500 miles through attempting to be the first to run the
length of South America, more than 5,000 miles, unsupported in a year.
With my wife Katharine, we have set up the 5000mileproject
to raise money to protect wild places and wildlife. We also use it as a
way to connect people at home with the places we run through and to
inspire environmental action in everyone we meet. I’m writing this
profile from my new home, a little green tent, which, along with a bunch
of rather heavy IT kit for keeping in touch, books to learn Spanish and
materials for teaching school groups, we run with towing in a trailer
behind us. It’s hard work!

A Senior Executive once described to me in rather crude, but admirably
concise terms, what Accenture really does – “we make difficult ****
happen.” It’s true and the same tenacity, determination to succeed and
self-discipline never to give up that I cultivated at Accenture is
keeping us going through the pain of each step, running through these
Andean mountain passes towing 80kgs of expedition gear.

The best career advice I’ve ever received is that worrying is a sin.
Measure, manage, execute, do everything and anything you can about those
things you can change; don’t waste productive time worrying about
things you can’t.

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