Authored by Jacqueline Madsen


“I’m curious. Who feels like they don’t belong here? Raise your hand” Homeward Bound co-founder Fabian Dattner began.

About 80% of the room raised their hands.

I am one of the people who raised their hand, as an electrical engineer currently in the transport sector. This is a community of amazing scientists, science communicators, marine biologists, researchers, and polar region specialists. I am surrounded by amazing women in STEMM fields with such a wealth of knowledge in ocean science, Antarctica, and climate change. When this question was asked, I initially felt out of place. It was surprising to me that so many others felt the same way – including those who worked in those spaces. That brought me some comfort, but I had a long way to go.

Initially, as I met more people, I sheepishly introduced myself to people who turned out to also not be directly involved in oceans or climate. I’ve met people from banking, resources, psychology, medical, and business strategy sectors as well as world-leading business transformation consultants. Each reminded me that I needed to change my thinking – we were chosen to be here. Each of us was in a cohort selected from about 400 applicants. We weren’t here by accident.

Photo: Homeward Bound women on the Island Sky. Credit: Heidi Victoria


My perception of Homeward Bound has shifted in recent years from appearing as a climate action group to sharing more of its leadership focus. This has seen the start of a shift in who is here – with greater diversity of thought and experience.

When discussing collaborations in one of the early voyage sessions, a number of interesting collaborations were mentioned, including one between a marine scientist and a dentist to work on bio polymers. There was also a previous collaboration between two of the participants that was discovered, and they laughed at meeting for the first time and without having realised their connection.

It is clear that within the networking conversations already occurring, there are new collaborations being planned, and many that will emerge in the future. These will be for the betterment of climate change science, and for the improvement of leadership across many countries.

Research has always been challenging to me in that I have seen many groups working concurrently on the same project without communicating within the same company, let alone in different universities across the globe. I am hopeful that the collaborations built here between the many scientific minds on board will be able to break down some of those boundaries and reduce rework to be able to make more successful partnerships.

We have already made it through some rough seas and cold winds, and some enlightening leadership development conversations. We are learning to communicate better with guidance from the faculty who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and skills and being open to feedback.

It is great to see the barriers so quickly breaking down within our community, and hopefully when asked again later in the journey “who feels like they don’t belong?” No one will put their hand up.

Everyone here has a unique perspective and a unique value we are yet to uncover. I’m very excited to continue this journey and see what changes we can make in ourselves, each other, and the world around us.