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The mountaineering IT leader

Jack Loo | Aug. 2, 2013
Marcelo De Santis of Mondelez is scaling Mount Everest in support of UNICEF.

In today's increasingly complex world, IT leaders are expected to move beyond traditional roles and take on a myriad of skills across multiple disciplines within the organisation.

But for Marcelo De Santis, he will be doing more than just learning new things and moving out of comfort zones. Come March 2014, he will embark on a climbing expedition to scale Mount Everest.

marcelo de santis

According to De Santis, who is the Director of Information Systems & Business Process Excellence, AP at Mondelez International, the expedition is not just about scaling new heights but also a personal mission for him to support the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

In an interview, Computerworld Singapore spoke with De Santis to find out more about his upcoming journey and how climbing relates to IT leadership management.

1) Please tell us more about the impending expedition.

In 2014, I am planning to climb Mount Everest in support to UNICEF (Expedition Climbing for the Children http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/MarceloDeSantis/climbingforthechildren) with the objective to raise US$250,000 in donation funds.

I think that taking the UNICEF flag to the top of the world is a way to raise awareness about the issues affecting childhood as well as to highlight the importance of supporting the UNICEF cause. All raised funds will go to UNICEF, none of those funds go to me or any expedition member.

Every day 19,000 children die for causes that we can prevent. The majority of deaths occur among the poorer families in developing countries. Personally, I do feel a huge responsibility to work and contribute to change that reality for better and provide a brighter future for those children.

I decided to support UNICEF since its mission is to save and improve children's lives by providing things like healthcare, immunisations, clean water, nutrition and education. It is also an impactful organisation that covers 190 countries and territories and their programmes have already reduced the number of under-five child deaths more than 40 percent since 1990, a figure that demonstrates it is possible to radically reduce child mortality.

2) How are you preparing for this climb?

I believe that you always need to learn new things, especially those that take you out of your comfort zone. Years ago, I started taking part in triathlons to deal with my lack of comfort with open water swimming. After that I wanted to tackle the next challenge, which is being uncomfortable with heights, by climbing mountains.

marcelo de santis climbing

My preparation started four years ago in New Zealand, training with top-notch mountaineering companies and climbing a few 4000 to 5000-metre peaks. Finally last year, I attempted my first 8000-metre peak in the Himalayas.

 

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