Saturday, May 5, 2012

Leaders in the making

In what it seemed as a survival feat or the closest resemblance of the National Geographic's "Man Vs Wild", the 2012 batch of Full-Time MBA students of Copenhagen Business School, Denmark undertook an arduous journey in the woods of Sweden. The Leadership simulator or the LDP trip to Sweden has always been the much talked about topic in the whole course. It gained the highlight and the hype for it is about how the theory is put into practice.

Fortunately, the weather favoured us with a bright and a clear sunshine. The travel time was about 6 hours by bus including the ferry from Denmark to Sweden. The "mission folder" was handed over to us during the journey so as to better prepare ourselves with the task. The 6 hour long journey brought us to a military camp, technically called as per the mission as a "drop zone". Each one of us were provided with a backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, torch, rope, cup, plate, compass, knife, etc. With all these stuff added to personal cloths easily made it big and bulky to weigh around 25 kgs or so. Four teams were formed comprising of 10-11 people with an immediate appointment of general managers. During the rest of the course in the forest, each one of us had to take the roles of HR, Logistics manager, operations manager, assistant GM and general manager.

Day 1:
Still cheerful, the teams were dropped at different locations but had to find their way to the base camp using map and compass. It was already dark when our team reached the camp. We had no time to choose a proper camp site and had to settle for a sloppy area near the lake. The makeshift tents were immediately pitched, fire was lit and the packaged meal cooked. The first misfortune for the team came in when one of our team member had a knee injury. While he took rest, we took turns to guard the fire through out the night. Since the tent did not provide enough room for us, most of us had to sleep in the open space only to bear the freaking cold night.

Day 2:
We had to wake up at 6:00 am and set the journey of the day by picking up 10 ribbons on the way to the next camp. It took us half a day walking in the forest with the backpacks. The next destination was to reach an island for the night but before that we had to rappel down a cliff and use canoe to sail us across to the island. Everyone was low on energy and the cheerful faces just gave some light and forceful smiles at times. We lost our way several times even to the extent of crossing couple of hills. For most of us, the rappelling or the abseiling was a first time experience. I could literally feel my heart pounding so hard on my chest and the steep cliff gave me an adrenaline rush. It was already dark when we reached the island. Everyone was so tired and hungry that no body was in a mood to talk. Fish was all we had for dinner without any ingredients. The semi-cooked fish only tasted delicious to my hungry stomach and so did to the rest. This time we all managed to squeeze inside the tent for the night.

Day 3:
Woke up early morning and packed our things for yet another unknown destination. We had one loaf of bread for eleven of us for the whole day. I could already hear the grumbling of my stomach and the slice of bread did no good to it. We used the canoe to get back to the shore and prepare ourself for the final task. Fortunately or unfortunately, this task was so demanding and it was my turn to become the general manager. The task pushed me to a new limit and i felt i became a lot more wiser. We finally built a rope bridge and every one got transported to the other bank. Some preferred to swim across but it nearly took their life due to hypothermia. We walked for another couple of hours and at last reached the camp near the beach. Finally we had a good food and a real bed to sleep on. It was so relaxing after spending days and nights in the forest that even a five star hotel would not have provided that amount of comfort.

Day 4:
Had a morning session called "reflected teams" where we took turns to reflect and give feedbacks to one another in a style which was quite unique. We started our journey back to Copenhagen and reached back sometime around 7:00 PM. The much talked about leadership simulator had just been completed and I feel I became wiser and enlightened after several rounds of feedbacks and reflections. The three days in the forest taught me more than what i learned thus far in the course. I wish one day i could pass on this experience to my fellow mates back home.

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