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Authored by Laura Rosich

 

In the vast expanse of Antarctica, Claudia, our fearless expedition leader, has indelibly shaped our leadership and expedition journeys over the past three weeks. Her leadership, a harmonious blend of assertiveness and kindness, echoes as strongly as the icy winds enveloping us. Claudia not only commands the room but also directs each expedition with a precision that reflects her mastery in this realm.

Born in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Claudia’s global explorations have transformed her into a citizen of the world. Her leadership journey began in the Amazonian tourism industry shortly after completing her biology degree. Invited to join an expedition crew on a ship, Claudia’s life evolved into a mesmerising exploration of the world’s oceans.

As a young leader, she learned to establish her ground through logical, data-driven decision-making, remaining impervious to challenges. Inspired by iconic Star Trek characters, Claudia embodies Spock’s pragmatism and Kirk’s catalytic leadership.

Photo: Claudia in Antarctica. Credit: Fern Hames

 

Her team functions seamlessly, a testament to Claudia’s ability to create psychologically safe spaces for each member. Leveraging their strengths and encouraging collaboration, she empowers them to contribute to every plan. While decisions ultimately rest on her shoulders, safety, clarity, and communication are unwavering values and pillars guiding every move.

In an interview, I delved into Claudia’s courageous adventure as a female leader since the 1990’s. She credited the influence of remarkable women leading expeditions before her and pointed to her lineage and upbringing as wellsprings of resilience.

Born in the late 1800s in rural Minas Gerais, Claudia’s great-grandmother, a child of a woman enslaved and a white man, defied patriarchy at every turn. Opting for freedom, she became a high school teacher, rejecting marriage proposals until finding a partner who respected her autonomy. A mother of 12, she ensured every one of her children, regardless of gender, got an education. The legacy of education and empowerment continued through the generations and beyond her own blood family. One of her daughters-in-law, Claudia’s grandmother, and all the women in that generation collaborated with midwives to control family size and continue instilling an urgency for education and female empowerment. Claudia’s mother’s three sisters became teachers and accountants in the 1950’s. This intergenerational, collective, powerful sisterhood is the foundation of Claudia’s success. Behind her are generations of strong, independent women who claimed their place.

Claudia’s courage is truly remarkable. She operates in a high-stakes world where safety is paramount. Expeditions bring inherent risks, and Claudia, with her pragmatic decision-making, ensures that the safety of her team and customers remains non-negotiable. Her team, diverse and gender-balanced, operates like a well-oiled machine. This emphasis on safety is not just professional but deeply personal for Claudia, reflecting her commitment to the well-being of her team.

As a fellow Latin American woman, I find myself in awe of this lineage that has defied patriarchy for over two centuries. Claudia epitomises inspiration, leading teams that excel in their fields, embody diversity, and gender balance. Her passion for conservation, sustainability, and biodiversity is matched only by her stern yet compassionate command. Claudia’s voice resonates through the ship each morning, instilling a sense of security in all of us with her familiar, “Good morning, a Good morning to all,” followed by a briefing on the day ahead. For the sake of a safe, sustainable, equitable world, we need more women like Claudia in leadership.