Podcast: Play In New Window
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As you may be aware, I’ve spent the past 3 weeks on a ship in Antarctica with 77 other female scientists, all participating in the Homeward Bound program.
To say the experience has been life changing wouldn’t do it justice.
We didn’t just look at penguins!! In a safe and collaborative space we networked, developed strategies to lead, increase our visibility, and act on issues that align with our individual values and lift women up in the call to create change for the greater good. All of this in the spectacular setting of Antarctica.
In coming podcast episodes I’ll be reflecting on the voyage and sharing the outcomes and resulting projects, but first I wanted to give you a solid background on what is Homeward Bound.
Today’s episode is a warm and candid chat Homeward Bound co-founder Fabian Dattner, recorded on the ship on one of our final days on board.
Homeward Bound was initially the idea of Fabian Dattner (leadership activist and partner at Dattner Grant) and Dr Jess Melbourne Thomas (Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeller), together with Dr Justine Shaw (Antarctic Conservation Biologist), and Assoc. Prof. Mary Anne Lea (Antarctic Marine Biologist).
Since then Homeward Bound has been developed by this team, together with Julia May, Sarah Anderson, Kit Jackson, Marshall Cowley and Hayley Young joining the team along with the support of Dr Fern Hames, Dr Merryn McKinnon, Dr Denise Hardesty and Assoc. Prof Heidi Steltzer.
So while I’m chatting with just Fabian today I want to acknowledge the Homeward Bound leadership team for their tireless efforts to bring this program to life.
In this discussion Fabian shares the inspiration and vision behind Homeward Bound, why women with a STEMM (science, technology, engineering mathematics and medicine) background are central to the mission, why Antarctica and some of the biggest challenges the leadership team have overcome on the journey.
Eco Chat Transcription
So Fabian, thanks so much for coming on Eco Chat today.
My pleasure. Really lovely to be with you and to talk to all the people that love and respect what you do for them.
Thank you. So let’s just start at the beginning. Where did all this start? How did you come to have the vision to not only create a global network of 1000-odd female scientists, but take them through an intense year-long leadership training programme culminating in a three-week voyage to Antarctica? Where did this start?
Well, I’d like to say that that has a simple answer, but it probably doesn’t. So I’ll give you the shortest version I can. As a woman and as a leader, I’ve been exploring the narrative of leadership for a very long time. And it started with my own trial by fire and the mistakes I made very early on in my career as a leader. And then that led to six or seven years of interviewing people who would be led to find out what it is they really want from leaders. And I had what the Greeks refer to as metanoia, a moment of realisation, that the hierarchical construct of leadership was fundamentally flawed. First it was a style of leadership that favoured men and secondly, in the world that I could see coming, was unlikely to be sufficient to guide us collectively towards a sustainable future. And that realisation really happened in the first half of the 90s.
And so I begin a business, which was originally Fabian Dattner Group and then became Dattner Grant, with my business partner then, Jim Grant, that focused on transformative leadership. And that means that it’s not transactional, it’s not the teaching of a particular skill, although skills are taught, it’s far more relevant, what the deeper whys for doing it. And for me, the why always was based on a deep belief that all people should be heard. And that the function of leadership is not to know and do and be the final arbiter of all that’s right, but it is to facilitate, to lead, to be open to feedback, to coach, to develop, to be able to be vulnerable with people such that they’re not frightened of giving you feedback, and so on and so forth.
And so for nearly 25 years, that’s what we built. We built a company in Australia, it does a lot of work globally, but it’s based in Australia, helping leaders in all sorts of quarters explore the nature of transformative leadership. And helped thousands of people in hundreds of different organisations. And in the journey of doing that, I become a diagnostic specialist, so I have, you know, something … Many, many, many different diagnostic accreditations. I become a good coach. I learn a lot about what it is to help people to become something more than they thought they could be. Not based on me being the source of that wisdom, but rather helping them overcome the things, the hurdles, that they have inside themselves that put a brake on their potential.
But as time progressed and as the 20s progressed, I became more concerned that there was always this relentless wicked absence of women in all the work that we were doing. So, on average, you know, the ratio, if I’m being generous, would be 70/30, 70% men, 30% women. But way too often with executive teams, for instance, in universities, in business, in education, in not-for-profits, would be men. And the ratio would basically 92% men, 8% women or, you know, 88% men and 12% women.
And early in my … That phase of exploring what was actually fundamentally flawed about it, I think I was caught in the belief that if you wanted to lead, you would, as a woman. And that, you know, I hadn’t seen impediments for myself and I believe that it was an issue of determination. And then I think there was a moment where, frankly, I lifted my head from the feeding bin and I started to watch how women interact on their own. And I saw something so profoundly moving, so precious, so capable of love and inclusion and wisdom and a legacy mindset and always a focus on what they’re doing on behalf of, rather than what they’re doing for themselves, at their best, that I realised something was wrong. You know, this was not what I thought. And as I looked more and more, I started to see that if by chance of birth, or proximity to a really constructive leader, you had learned how to hold your space in very competitive or power-based or oppositional cultures, then you would prosper. But if you hadn’t had that fluke of circumstance, then you were going to struggle. And so, I started to watch women struggling.
And then as I started to work with women much more and as I started to work with them, I saw this deeply ingrained lack of self-confidence. Because they’d been told for such a long time that they needed to be like this model leadership to be successful and yet when I saw them together at their best, I saw a different model of leadership.
So that took me to the journey of our Australian national programme campus, which we’ve had over a thousand women participate in and we’ve seen phenomenal outcomes from. But always emerges this issue of safety and self-confidence. And so I began the journey of really helping women help women in this domain. Now the battling part of that, the challenge and some of the dark side of that, is that sometimes who have risen up the ranks can become the hardest people to other women. Not always but enough for us all to question what happens to us when we rise to the senior ranks.
So I think I hit despair about the narrative of leadership and as someone who’s dedicated their life to it, probably six, seven years ago, where I could see, it was so clear in my mind’s eye what we needed to do with leadership and yet there was this deep, deep resistance to doing it properly and this persistent belief that in the end the leader has to make a decision, in the end the leader is a source of wisdom, in the end an executive will make a decision.
And as our world became more complex and as we kept using these endless litany of words around change and flexibility and adaptability and resilience, I began to believe that the absence of women meant that we would not make it through. And while we talk about climate change and sustainability, frankly the planet will rebound. The question I think we confront is not whether the planet rebounds, it’s whether we’re there to rebound with it. And I don’t think we’re doing much effectively to insure that. And that is the frustration and despair that many of your audience confront is that scientists involved in, whether it’s plastics or deforestation or climate change, know perfectly well that there seems to be this insane resistance to listening to and digesting the facts about the planet, which have been raised since the 60s.
So I then … I’m in Tasmania so you see two pieces in play at the moment. One is a dead knowledge of leadership and how it plays out in our world. And the second was an increasing love for and understanding of the complexity of working with women. And then I’m running a programme in Tasmania, all sponsored by the Australian Antarctic Division. Tasmania’s in the southern tip, little island off the end of Australia and that’s the gateway for most of the science to Antarctica, many nations go through Hobart to do science in Antarctica. And I’m running a programme for about 27 women, 23 of whom were scientists. And I remember that really compelling moment under a stairwell where stories about Antarctica that were being shared, which were joy and magic and the mystery and the grandeur of Antarctica, suddenly devolved stories of hope and joy and exhilaration to stories of frustration, to stories of despair, to grief, and the women were crying. And the grief was that they thought they knew what they could contribute but were constantly being run over for positions of senior leadership by less qualified, less experienced men who just fitted the paradigm. I calm everything down and I get them back into the programme. I go home but that’s the night I have the dream and, you know, that’s where it started. And the dream was just so clear, then all the pieces in the dream fell into place. And that’s where Homeward Bound was born.
Wow. What a story, Fabian. I’m intrigued for you to just share what this dream was about. I mean, I’ve heard you tell us, the participants on this voyage, but would you mind just telling the listeners today what was in this dream? And what was so clear? And what stood out for you? How did you feel when you woke up?
Well, the first thing for anyone who has lucid dreams … A lucid dream is where it’s in colour, it’s crystal clear, it’s a lived experience, as if it were real. So I had a lucid dream and in the dream, we were on a ship and the ship strangely was very like the back of the Ushuaia, that big room we work in which has got this 220 degree view through the windows. I could see white beyond … I knew we were in Antarctica. I could see the women in chairs on the floor in front and I knew exactly what we were giving them that was leadership capability, it was strategic skills, really about being strategic about themselves and it was about science that informs the state of the planet so we could all become informed, not just about a pet project, but about many aspects of our world. And I could see the word “homeward bound” on my left-hand side. So the name of the programme was on the wall on the left-hand side and behind us was a film crew. And I knew we were making a film that was an interrogation of leadership and why it was, the practise of leadership, was failing, seen through the lens of these women’s perspective.
And that’s what I saw. It was clear as the day is long. And I woke up from this dream and I went, “Man, that’s a good dream. That’s so doable.” My instinct was, “That would be a wild thing to try and do.” So that morning I rang Dr. Jess Melbourne Thomas, who had actually done one of my women’s programmes two years earlier. 30-year-old Jess with dreadlocks down to her bum, who, she and I, had clicked very, very early on in the pace. She’s a wonderful can-do sort of person. And I think if I’d rang anybody else, this would not have happened. So although Jess is not involved with Homeward Bound anymore, all honour to that first call, ’cause it was the first follower.
Because when I told her the dream I simply finished with, “Do you think it’s got legs?” And she said, “Mmm, I do. Why don’t you try writing it up?” And as fate would have it, that day I had client cancel for an emergency and I had three hours spare, so I just sat down and I wrote a 10-page document that fully scoped out Homeward Bound, including the people globally who I thought would be important to talk you all. And I sent it to Jess that afternoon and within a month, that had escalated up through the Australian Antarctic Division, past the chief scientist Nick Gales to the CEO and all of them thought it was a good idea and it got endorsed by AAD. They couldn’t fund it but they thought it was an idea worth pursuing.
Wow. What a story. And here we are right now.
I know. You and I in the cabin of a ship in Antarctica!!!
Exactly! At the end … Towards the end. We have got our last crossing today for your second voyage. So you’re two down, eight to go on this 10-year programme.
We might do more.
Yeah, you could. Definitely. Why limit it to a thousand?
Fabian Dattner: Yeah.
So you have touched on this but I just want to succinctly ask, first of all, why women? Why women in STEMM? (Science, technology, engineering, maths, medicine). Why now? And why Antarctica?
Great. Those questions are really important.
So why women? Because the issue of safety and connection for women is our number one need in the world today, I think. And that we are not really all of ourselves when there’s only one of us. You know, we don’t have an “I” model of the world. You know, that’s different for men. I think you have to go out and fight the battle and forge the river. You have to climb into those difficult spaces and, in the end … I’m not saying don’t do this, no, I’m using this as a metaphor, but it’s more of an I mindset.
And for women, you know, once we were in a tribal environment in a camp and we did everything in that camp. We gathered 4/5ths of the food, we stoked the fire, we cooked the food, we cared for the children, we cared for the elderly, we thatched the roof, we made a collaborative home space. So our brains are very wired to talking and being in a space where no one task is more important than another task. So our ability to collaborate, to be inclusive, to have a legacy mindset, to be trusted with the assets of the collective, is an ancient pathway and it’s kind of like, in a world which is structurally hierarchical, where men and the way men think may have prevailed in the model of leadership, our model of leadership has not really had an opportunity to be kindled or rekindled. So why women? I think we need space to remember who we are together. That’s number one, to feel safe and to remember who we are together.
Why STEMM? I think two things actually. And this is more I’ve come to confirm it was the right choice, although it’s the hardest choice. Frankly, a ship full of marketing, advertising, sales, human resources, community activists would be a thousand times easier than you all.
But what you are is this phenomenal brain grunt. Clever, trained, critical brains that have am immense capacity to take on board knowledge and improve it. And that has not been easy. So the STEMM side has proven to be the right thing to do but I can say I find it easy. I find it really hard. This has been joyful, this second trip. The first was a mess of learning curve. And I’m fully expecting there to be things that people didn’t like and want to change and improve. But what the group’s got to learn is to improve it all without hurting any of the individuals. That’s the art of improving things. And I think you all do it better, but not as well as the fifth group or the eighth group. And I’m hoping by the time we get to a thousand, we have a model of leadership that changes the world. That’s what I hope.
So why STEMM? ‘Cause you’re smart as all get out. And I’m not saying other people aren’t smart, they are, but you are trained to think and think critically. And I see it amongst you all. But you’ll notice we’re slowly seeding in activists and social scientists and there’s an economist on board, and there are policy writers on board. So as we progress, I think we will allow for other people who’ve got that same critical thinking to start to be part of, ’cause I think it adds value. But I think the final outcome, and even now I’m saying it, it’s probably the first time I’ve said it, is when we get to that thousand, we will know how to lead and then we can go out and help other people see what the influence can be.
And why now? Because science informs everything where our planet is today. And as we face a deeply problematical future, it will be science, STEMM, science, technology, engineering, maths, medicine, that will give us the solutions going forward. So I sure as hell want you in there telling us what to do. And not to have women there is to take away a wise voice. You know, I have an image in my mind’s eye, the R&D of a high-tech company and when I look across it, I see 200 people and I maybe see 20 women, so I see 180 men, and they’re young men, and I think to myself, “Is this the voice that creates our future?” Where is the mitigating voice that says, “It’s fantastic what we’re doing with iPhones, but is this really what I want my kids to have? Is this how I want it to look?” Where is the plan and the thoughtfulness around the addiction? Where is the plan and thoughtfulness around human community? Where is the plan and thoughtfulness about the legacy we’re leaving?
You know, there’s the wild, crazy, exhilarating, chemically-fuelled challenge of improving what we’ve got and inventing something new and making that game more exciting and exhilarating and thrilling. And all the games have got war in them. And we say it doesn’t affect people. Well maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t, but would women design it the same way? And I tell you what, I give my odds on bet that they wouldn’t. So I want women in there. I want women at the table where medicine, in its extraordinary exploration and genius of development, also includes where humans are. And, you know, where is the conversation about death and dying and the grace of death and dying? Where is the grace and connection to the full magic of birth? Where is the thoughtfulness around palliative care? And so on and so forth. There’s a lot of things where I think women’s voices … And that’s not to say we can’t invent the valve that will forever change the threat of heart attack, you know. That is women and men side-by-side. But there’s something women bring that’s currently missing and I think we have to elevate it.
Laura Trotta: I whole-heartedly agree. And why Antarctica?
And why Antarctica? Well I used to joke and say, in the beginning, it’s ’cause I always wanted to go to the Antarctic so I had a dream that got me there. But actually, I think some part of my intelligence knew that it was the ultimate frame for care for the planet. I can’t think of a space more compelling, more visceral, more demanding, more strangely beautiful yet harsh and that is ultimately the refrigerator of our planet. And prosaic as that sounds, when this goes pear-shaped, the planet goes pear-shaped. So come see it, own it, let it seep it’s way into your bones as a women and then ultimately remember you are a universal mother. Whether you have children or not, you have the capacity to love deeply in your bones someone else’s children. And I think that we call it Mother Earth for good reason, but we’re not treating it like a mother, we’re treating it like a slave.
So let’s talk about Mother Earth for a minute. And the tagline or the catch phrase, or whatever you wanna call it, for Homeward Bound is “Mother Nature needs her daughters.” So where did that come from and what’s the intent behind that message?
Well, this is the magic of the very beautiful studio that did the branding of Homeward Bound, Elmwood Studios. And that was a connection from Kit Jackson who runs the strategy component. And it was a love at first sight with Elmwood. And, you know, the first meeting, this happened over a three, four month period, we sat down with this amazing group of young dudes, 2/3rds of them were young men, and a third were women, and we just had several meetings talking about the philosophy behind Homeward Bound and what we were trying to do. And I think we were so clear … It’s all been so clear from the beginning because the dream was so clear. The strategy’s been very clear. The people that were brought in to build Homeward Bound, the skills that were needed, were so clear that when we collectively went to Elmwood Studio, it was the best briefing they’ve ever had. And they bought in, they got it, they wanted it, they owned the ambition of Homeward Bound.
And one young man in particular, Lucky, beautiful young man with a three-year-old child, understood the need. And he was the one that came up, ultimately, with the XI and he’s the one that added to it. And when that got added, we knew the magic was there, it was Mother Nature needs her daughters. And it’s not to say, and this is really important for your audience to understand, it’s not to say that men don’t matter. It is to say that footprint has dominated, in a very significant amount, how we have treated Mother Earth, the natural environment. Mother Nature now needs her daughters to come in. And you know that saying “A son’s a son ’til he gets him a wife. A daughter’s a daughter ’til the end of her life”? You know, when men have got what they need, when they’ve created what they wanted, perhaps sometimes they walk away. And maybe women don’t.
That’s powerful. It was actually that phrase, that Mother Nature needs her daughters, and I guess the image of Antarctica that stopped me in my flick through a Facebook feed. A friend had tagged me on that too and said, “Laura Trotter, this has got you all over it. Take a look at this.” And I think it was early January, 2017, so last year, and it was that Mother Nature needs her daughters that hooked me right in. I thought, “Yes, hell yeah she does.”
You know I’m there. And then I looked further and I could probably just say my life was changed from that day onwards, from putting my foot forward.
And it’s been, I have to say, really wonderful having your energy, your knowledge, your experience, here. And I think that’s the other thing, and it’s almost impossible to explain to people, but this 80 brilliant minds, yours included, in a safe space where all of us have something to contribute.
Yeah. And that safe space, we can’t … Just talk about how amazing that is. I worked … I built my career, 11 years in the minerals industry, so I would be that one female in the room. I was the first female to live in the single men’s quarters in a small mining town, west coast Tasmania, at the age of 19. That was the way I … That was the work environment I worked in and the work environment that I thought I was thriving in until I was … I fell pregnant and I was … I realised how deeply unhappy I was and that wasn’t the environment that I wanted to go back to. But it’s kind of like you know that you’re not happy, but you don’t know what you need or what you want and I can honestly say these last 21 days on board … I was a bit apprehensive too, like, “80-odd women, like …”
And I thought, “I’ve never been in that situation.” Being with all women.
I love men, I get along with men.
They challenge me, I challenge them. But I was anxious about how this was all going to play out. But the connection and that safe space, that support, that has enabled us all to grow and be vulnerable. And it’s through that vulnerability that I, myself, have grown so much on these 21 days. And I’ll be sharing in podcasts to come. But yeah, thank you so much for creating that space. I can’t convey to my listeners right now how amazing and precious that is.
Fabian Dattner: Indeed.
So let’s talk business for a minute, ’cause there’s a lot entrepreneurs listening in today’s world. So like any enterprise venture, the journey is never a straightforward easy one. Would you mind sharing what’s been your biggest challenge to date? Or just some of them that have been, you know, that have almost stopped you in your tracks.
Yep. Well I think the first was a pilot. And of course you have to expect that … You know, we were inventing it as we went so the people who stayed from the very beginning, all credit to them that they stuck it out because we originally had hoped to leave in middle of 2016, and it proved impossible. So the first coterie of people who bought in in January of 2015 … Yes, January of 2015, had to wait another year. And they stuck with it, they stayed, that was the first 40 people that were selected. And then when we went to 75 people there was the shift in size and going from … Hoping to have left from Hobart, Tasmania to leaving from Ushuaia was a big decision ’cause Ushuaia is a commercial jumping off point and this is not a commercial ship, this is a expedition mindset. So they all stuck it out.
But we were also developing things that we now have much greater clarity on without even knowing what it was going to be like to do this on a ship. So it was like, you know the first moon walk, we were genuinely trying to do something that hadn’t been done before. And so it came with some big lessons. At times my style, even though my intention is deeply constructive … You know, as I said if I had a ship full of advertising, marketing, educational, educationists, educationists, educators, business people, HR leaders, teachers, it would be a dream. They would all get the style and the language and the diversity. But working with women who in that first trip were much more predisposed to analytical, pragmatic thinking. So the high dreams could sound risky or unclear.
So for the 76 that went on that first trip, I think 68 to 70 had phenomenal experience, as you’ve had it. But there was a very small coterie, five to seven people, who it just didn’t work for, and didn’t work from the very beginning and I didn’t work for them from the very beginning. And it created quite an overwhelming element to the programme for me personally.
On top of that, we had a film crew. And we had flu on the ship and flu cascaded through the ship. And I was one of two people who possibly brought it onto the ship, but had no awareness, no knowledge, A) that I was bringing it on and B) that in a closed space, how deeply contagious it would be. And so that taught me a lot, taught me a lot about my style. And as with all of you, when you’re confronting something that you need to change, it takes time and kindness and constructive support to learn to go through that space together.
The grace of that ship is a phenomenal leadership that emerged in last third of the experience. So that was leaders rising up to take on the audience in their own right. So a big review of the programme happened. There was permitted behaviours in that environment that I think, you know, I know now, with the wisdom of hindsight, shouldn’t have gone ahead. But, you know, I’m so not someone who tries to control people. So I would go to bed, you know, 9:30, 10:00 at night ’cause I’m not a party or drink, and something would happen at night time and some of that was just not okay. But weren’t to find that out for quite a long time. And it got sort of, I think, put at my doorstep. So when things can go wrong, you go to the person who’s most visible and you want to hold them to account. And I’m very willing to be held to account but it became, in 2017, after the first expedition, just disruptive.
So I’ve learned a lot about the brilliant minds, about sometimes when you are accustomed to a world that is cynical or intentionally doing unkind things, you assume everyone’s gonna be like that, and so it took a lot of time for them to realise I’m not like that, the leadership team are not like that, that’s not what we’re doing, not where we’re coming from. There was cynicism about where the money went. It was an assumption that I was squirrelling a lot of money away. And it was so far from the truth. You know, in the first year I put 40,000 of my own money into Homeward Bound. I provided rent-free space, equipment, telephones. You know there was a lot of money put in our business to make sure Homeward Bound had a home. And of course we all did it on top of our full-time jobs. It was, you know, for me in that first year, it was easily 20 hours of work, additional work, a week. That was never not working on weekends and nights. And then, of course, we all take holiday, our holidays, to deliver the content.
And so when that cynicism about the money emerged from a very small group, I was just gob smacked, I was just, “What have I not explained? Which …” And I’m not gonna say, “Look what I do for free.” And here’s me, I thought everyone would recognise it. So I’m coming to terms with making the budget really transparent and showing people where the money was spent and helping them feel less cynical about intention. You know, wasn’t I an entrepreneur? No, I was someone who cared deeply about women in our world, who had an idea and was experimenting with it with a lot of other people. And I think we’ve come through the other side of that and the alumni were deeply generous in providing recommendations. And we agreed with them all, they’ve all manifestly improved the experience.
So it’s been a fantastic and sometimes very hard learning exercise. And, you know, it’s all continuing. I’m sure people see there’s some agitation in the media from still this very small group. And it will eventually subside, I think. But, you know, what people don’t know is how much pain it causes. And you know, there’s hundreds of, it’s well over 400 articles, television interviews, radio interviews, online conversations all over the world, and then I’m one of those people that fixates on the problem. So that’s what I’ve learned. I hope I’m humbler, more visible, more accessible to people. I apologise very quickly if I think I’ve done something wrong. I go to the people who see the problem, ask to hear what went wrong, I go back, I reflect on it. I try to do, to the best of my ability, what you’re all asked to do.
And I guess you’ve just touched on … And I hope that my listeners can hear this in your story, but just how tenacious you are. And that’s a quality that I’ve admired in you greatly. So obviously, you know, being in your tribe for the last year or so, but also watching how you operate on the ship, and you are accepting feedback. And, you know, there have been some, a couple of small bumps on our journey today.
Fabian Dattner: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
But you’ve taken that feedback and improved it for everyone and been open. You know, it’s hard as a leader to take that feedback. But you definitely … And I’m not going to say role model, but you’re setting a fantastic example for that.
But what makes Fabian Dattner tick? What gets you out of bed after those setbacks and keep going and striving in this dream?
Well, I see a divided road into our future. And one side of it really is our species’ extinction. Our planet will rebound, I don’t doubt that. It won’t be as it is today but it’ll be different, it’ll rebound. Nature is strong and resilient and also good at spitting out species that have had their time.
And the other side is the coming of wisdom, the getting of wisdom. And I don’t believe that slightly. I believe at my heart’s core. I believe love is the most powerful force in the world and at my heart’s core I’m very loving human being. I believe in the power of motherhood and at my heart’s core I’m a mother. And I feel that towards you. I feel that, you know, for the next 20, 30 years, as long as I live, I want to be there to support you all to go forward. To love you, to know it’s safe to give a mother or a leader feedback and that that person will listen to you and change. And that sometimes the experiences you’ve had aren’t the only way we can respond. I wanna make sure that that platform is created for you, that you can stand on it, go and do what you want to do with it. Or not do anything with it if you choose. I deeply believe in you. I believe your visibility matters. I don’t think that, you know, it’s not just a passing whim, it’s why I get up, it’s why I breathe. And I think your visibility, your voices, your style, your courage, your capacity to love each other, could take us on a very different path. So I’ll do what I can while I live to facilitate that.
Well you’re an amazing woman, Fabian. So let’s fast forward to the year 2026. You’ve led 10 voyages of 1000 plus female scientists to Antarctica and you’ve created a self-sustaining network of the most amazing women all supporting each other to do their best work in the world, particularly in the sustainability arena. How do you feel?
Well it’s not just sustainability. What I see is you are acting for the greater good. How do I feel? I almost don’t exist. So what I am is one of them, not the leader of it. I can see us accepting the Nobel Prize for science and planet. I see the thousand of us standing on a stage, not one, or two, or three. And I see us saying to the world, “There’s another way to do this.” And having the voice, the power and the influence to help.
Fabulous. And how can our listeners today best support you and Homeward Bound in going forward?
You don’t need to support me, but what you can do to support Homeward Bound is always give Homeward Bound and the women the benefit of the doubt. Seek to find the truth. Don’t judge. Get behind women who come on Homeward Bound, help them raise the money to participate, which goes into the ship. And don’t sit there listening to this thinking, “It’s not me. What an amazing journey, I wish I could go.” If you have a background in STEMM, put your name forward. Because if not you, who? If not now, when? And if not this, what? You can’t be in the game if you don’t put yourself forward and every women whose put her name forward has doubted whether she was good enough to do it. And the answer is you are.
Laura Trotta: Thanks so much for your time, Fabian.
Fabian Dattner: Pleasure.