The Singapore Women's Everest Team (SWET) comprises six young women, of which five summited the world's highest mountain in 2009. Besides being the first all-female team from Singapore, they are unique as all of them come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, bound by a common aim to challenge their personal assumptions and boundaries.
Formed in 2004, SWET has proven its mettle as one of the toughest climbing teams in the city-state: climbing at least a mountain every year. Other than that, they have also made our case that they are a team who are not afraid to gallop past conventions and pursue their desires.
(Ms Joanne Soo, one of the SWET members)
On 26 January 2016, two of the SWET members were invited to give the DBA marketing students a talk on their experiences at Everest. Lee Peh Gee and Joanne Soo shared their valuable experiences with us. It was very inspiring as it was something that not many are capable of doing. If we were to see any of the Team members on the streets, it would not occur to us that they are legends. It is really no easy feat, especially after seeing the video that was shared with us. Every expedition, to them, is a life and death situation. Being women, it is no easy feat.
There were many challenges that they faced during the whole journey to reach the peak of Everest. When the frequency of hair wash depends on the sun and the importance of teamwork could not be emphasised further; the woman were put to the test to endure the unforgiving climate and learn to work with one another to reach the ultimate goal which is the peak of Everest. Every day they wake up to a different scenario and they have to get overcome them. Given limited resources, they made do with whatever they had. Be it satellite phones, limited thermal wear, etc. It is about adapting oneself and being able to stand out even when the situation seems bleak.
They shared many lessons which are relatable for us such as:
• You don’t have to see your goal to believe in it
• Peer support is crucial
• If it is easy then everyone would do it
• It is important to laugh and celebrate small successes
• Focus on improvement always
These lessons are vital in ensuring success for us students and even after entering the workforce upon graduation. There were various pictures and videos shown to give us a feel of what it was like to be out in the cold. It was an interesting talk that is beneficial for us to know to be strong and jump across any hurdle that comes our way to achieve the goal we have set our mind on. After this talk, we will be able to look at things differently, more positively. Our problems now seems so minute compared to what they faced on the mountains. When the Team was up there, they're constantly in face of different challenges. For instance, the climate isn't constant. The Team have to go around whatever is being thrown at them. Some may not be able to get to the top despite having rigorous training back in Singapore. At times, it's also not just about the climb. The Team had to know how to get money and raise awareness about what they were doing.
(Students mingling with Lee Peh Gee on the right and Joanne Soo)
Nicholas from DBA 11 mentioned, “I am in awe at their achievement, it is not every day you get to meet someone who has conquered Mount Everest.”
Another one of them, Cherin, from DBA 11 said, “They are such an inspiration as they pushed on even when in face of harsh conditions. Makes us reflect and realize that our problems are not as big as it seems.”
To wrap up, students were really impacted by the talk. We look forward to more of such talks in the future.
(Written by Arash and Pamela of DBA/FT/3B/11)