Marc, Business Operations, UK

My friends love asking about my job, so I’m always happy to tell them. I’m an investigator, working in Legal Brand Protection. We work hard to stop fake drugs and vaccines from entering the supply chain and impacting the most important thing of all – people’s health.

People are sometimes surprised when they discover that I’m not a lawyer. I’m a scientist turned investigator, with a 10-year background in anti-counterfeiting, brand protection and organised crime investigations.

Endurance, extremes and expeditions

Away from the office, my biggest passion in life is mountaineering. In April 2018, I embarked on my greatest challenge yet – a summit attempt on the highest mountain in the world. Climbing on the North face of Everest, I undertook a grueling expedition, starting in Nepal before making my way into Tibet, and onto the famous mountain with the aim to reach the summit, at 8845m (29,029ft) by the end of May.

This climb took me to new levels of physical and mental endurance, testing my ability to survive for long periods of time in extremes of temperature and altitude."

Whilst no stranger to expeditions, having previously climbed in the high Andes and Pamir Mountain ranges, it was my first foray above 8000m. My preparation was lengthy, and tiring. Part of this preparation saw me change my diet, eating over five times a day to help fuel the daily training regime I followed.

Previous high altitude climbing experience told me this challenge would take my mind to places that, sometimes, are best left unexplored. I find that personal development on expeditions such as this is a continuous process; you never stop learning about your body and just what it is capable of.

This expedition involved walking almost 100 miles, sleeping three hours a night and handling extreme sub-zero conditions; so my training and preparation soon became critical. However, despite this preparation, unforeseen circumstances stopped me in my tracks, and unfortunately I was forced to turn back before reaching the summit. 

I’m seriously proud to have done the expedition to help raise funds for GSK’s charity partner, Save the Children, and have so far raised £5, 769.97. This money will help support the Children’s Emergency Fund, which enables Save the Children to start saving lives immediately when disasters strike. 

I have spent the past 10 years learning to push my physical and mental limits, and have found that mountaineering helps to do just that. In fact, I credit my time on mountains for many of my personal skills. There is no more demanding environment on Earth for teamwork, resilience, trust and performance than high up on a mountain top.

An equally rewarding process has involved me taking those personal skills and relating them to my workplace, and ultimately my career. Thankfully, I work for a company who values these skills and encourages them. I think I even used a climbing anecdote in my interview – “tell us about a time when things didn’t go to plan."

There are always times in mountaineering when the unexpected happens. Being able to make quick, reasoned judgements is a real skill, and one that often is transferable to the workplace. And of course, teamwork; looking out for your climbing partner is crucial, because they are doing exactly the same for you. Things can go wrong very quickly, and you want someone by your side who you can trust and call in if you need to.

At work, I find myself asking a lot of questions, but that just shows how much I trust and value the expertise and experience of my colleagues.

Thankfully, it’s not minus 40 degrees Celsius in the office, though.