It’s been 100 Days since #TeamHB2018 returned from Antarctica. We asked Karen Alexander, Research Fellow at University of Tasmania, to reflect on her last 100 Days, and what leadership means to her. 


I am writing this whilst watching surfers bobbing about in the water at Bells Beach, Torquay, at the end of a weeklong campervan trip around the Great Southern Touring Route in Victoria, Australia. It is a far cry from the icy hues of Antarctica, although some things are the same – the cramped conditions, the biting wind… I needed some time off.

100 days later and I still hadn’t had time to reflect on my Homeward Bound experience. We all lead such busy, rushed lives; on my return from Ushuaia, I hit the ground running and it just never seemed to stop. Sometimes I wonder if it ever will.

Brisk walks along empty expanses of beach, accompanied by the forever roar of the ocean have given me the head space to reflect on the impact that HB is having around me. A lot has happened in the 100 days since I finished the HB program.

A week after my return I organised an HB inspired ‘Women and the Coasts’ event at a conference I was involved with – a brief peek into the lives of women leading in the coastal management sphere. In mid-May, I ran a training course for members of my research centre.

At the beginning of June I received funding from my University to hold a workshop to establish a research agenda on ‘Antarctic Ambassadors’ – a concept I first heard about whilst on-board the MV Ushuaia. Right now, at this very moment, some of my Antarctic images are being displayed at a photographic exhibition at IMAS in Hobart, Tasmania, showcasing how humans interact with this fragile terrain. None of these things occurred with any pomp and ceremony. They are just small things, which I hope contribute to changing perspectives on the influence of women, and the effects of humans in Antarctica.

Somewhere, in between feeling sand between my toes and wondering if I should take up surfing again, I have realised that we need a mixture of leaders. Not only of genders, but also of extroverts like Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Jobs, and introverts like Barack Obama and Rosa Parks. I am an introvert. I really struggle with making ‘visibility’ a priority – evidenced by my complete and utter failure to achieve the goal in my 100-day plan to create a strategic networking plan. As an introvert, perhaps I will solve problems in a quiet way. And that’s ok, I am certain the world needs leaders like me too.

Karen Alexander is a research fellow in ecosystem-based management at the University of Tasmania. Her research focuses upon ‘blue growth’ and she is particularly interested in understanding why conflict occurs around coastal and marine natural resource use. Originally from Scotland, Karen did her PhD at the Scottish Association for Marine Science. Karen feels quite at home in Tasmania – she loves the mountains and the sea. Outside of work she enjoys mediation, bushwalking, kayaking, general adventure and is currently learning to help crew a 40 foot Dubois racing yacht called ‘Ultimate Challenge’.