EARLE DE BLONVILLE, FRGS

Explorer, Author, Doctoral Researcher.

Earle shares his lived experience of grounded, real-world, expedition-tested insights into Leadership Development with mid-career and mature professionals alert to the globally interconnected challenges created by an emerging climate crisis that will be felt at every level of mutually dependant government, industry, business and society, worldwide.


“Earle de Blonville is a great, but unsung, Australian hero, with outstanding leadership qualifications."
- Professor The Hon. Barry Jones, AC.
Minister for Science 1983-90


LIVED LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE image
EARLE DE BLONVILLE, FRGS
Explorer, Author, Educator, C-Suite Coach, Leadership Consultant.

AWARDS

Fellow: Royal Geographical Society, UK, elected 1984
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Trust Award

Olegas Truchanas Expedition Canoeing Award



SUMMARY OF ACHIEVEMENTS

Leader: First Australian Arctic Expedition, East Greenland
Leader: First British Australian Exploration Voyage, Arctic
Leader: First Australian Exploration, West Greenland

Leader: First northerly sea kayak crossing of Bass Strait
Leader: First international kayak trans-navigation of Great Glen, Scotland
Leader: First commercial raft descent of the Sun Kosi, Himalaya - Peregrine

Co-leader: First sea kayak circumnavigation of Tasmania
Co-Leader: First European exploration of Quail Creek region, Kimberley
Chief Leader: ANZSES Scientific Expedition, Granite Mountain

Director: Australian Bicentenary Tall Ships Spectacular

Author: 'SAVAGE COAST - Inside Australia's First Arctic Expedition'

DETAILS

PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTOR/EDUCATOR

Professional Mountain Instructor (Scotland, Lake District & North Wales) (1973-1978)

My career as a professional mountain instructor and expedition leader began with an Outward Bound Senior Program. In Scotland's Cairngorm mountains I completed the rigorous Winter Mountaineering program and Advanced Winter Mountain Rescue program, working with the British Army Air Corps. In the mountains of North Wales I completed assessments in Advanced Whitewater Kayak, Senior Instructor Kayak, Mountain Leadership, and Mountain Instructor. I also completed the cutting edge Diploma of Outdoor Education, created and directed by the great Bill March, trail-blazing adventure educator and ice-climber, and leader of the first Canadian Everest ascent.

As a professional mountain instructor in Scotland, Lake District, and North Wales, highlights included long-form transformation of youth recidivists in sub-Arctic conditions; adventure mountain training for young industry leaders; remote mobile expeditions with international participants. In addition to teaching high-risk technical activities, developed new site facilities, instruction programs and specialised equipment. Led team of instructors handling weekly throughput of up to 200 clients. Helped under-performing major outdoor pursuits centre facing closure to achieve turnaround to profitability in 18 months.

Subsequently, I had extensive international field adventure experience including Greece, Austria, Italy, Himalayas, and the Australian Alps.

Key roles: Adventure curriculum development, adventure centre management, staff technical training.

COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP

Founding President, Mansfield Chamber of Commerce (1982-1985)

I founded and led the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce in Victoria's Alpine region. Successfully developed an expanded tourism industry to help rebuild local economy following the demise of timber and cattle industries which had displaced almost 15% of the population. Substantial inward investment attracted to region that generated major retail and residential construction, created many new small businesses, a raft of new jobs and doubled land and property values within three years.

The Chamber succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations. A locally owned, diverse and viable tourism industry quickly emerged to drive a unique cultural enrichment that continues to ensure Mansfield’s reputation as a very popular tourism and cultural hub.

This period also included roles as Co-Director, Mansfield Mountain Country Festival, and Director, The Great Mountain Race.

LEADERSHIP OF MAJOR EXPEDITIONS (1978-1989)

Business and expeditions both involve similar ideas, skills and challenges, and thus provide mutually beneficial learning opportunities for the advancement of both. I have led scientific, geographic and adventure expeditions in desert, bush, Arctic and Himalayan environments.

Leader of Australia’s first expedition to the Arctic (1985-1986)
Creation and leadership of Australia’s first Arctic expedition, during 1985-86. An extraordinarily complex $2.5 million (2022) project, which generated significant national print and broadcast media coverage and produced an internationally released TV documentary film and critically acclaimed book. Its operation stretched more than halfway around the world, involved eight countries, British royalty, prominent Australian and UK business, political and social leaders, scientific organisations, and a range of commercial sponsors.

LEADERSHIP OF MAJOR EVENT

Director: Tall Ships Victoria (1987-1988)

Appointed in 1987 Director of the Tall Ships spectacular where the Prime Minister officially opened Australia’s 1988 Bicentenary Year celebrations. Event involved some 75 ships and 500 crew, management of 500 local volunteers, and coordination of four city councils, State and Federal governments. With more than 1.5 million visitors, remains the biggest staged event in Victoria’s history.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Founder: Explorers Challenge (Explorers UK Limited) (1989-1998)
The Explorers Challenge was a unique adventure recreation system: the most advanced, technically sophisticated and value-loaded outdoor adventure installation ever developed in the UK. It was initially trialled at a remote mountain training centre and later commercially manufactured as an all-age modular adventure recreation system, for installation at schools, local authority parks and holiday camps. In 1989 I commercialised the component design, so it could be made from machined logs and fabricated steel core ropes, and established a company to manufacture and install Explorers Challenge sites, of varying sizes, across the UK. I controlled the design, testing and marketing processes, with the actual manufacture (using a dozen specialist suppliers) with a modular installation process outsourced to licensed partners. I produced all the manufacturing designs and trained the installers.

In addition, I trained teachers and schoolyard monitors in how to use the modules as diagnostic tools to detect and support at-risk children and implement coaching to boost self-confidence, as an anti-bullying measure. With its variable modular sizing and configuration, Explorers Challenge was successfully installed across the southern half of the UK and by 1999 had achieved composite sales of $14 million.

CORPORATE LEADERSHIP CONSULTING & COACHING
C-Suite Coach and Consultant (1998-Present)

After working as a Consultant with international consultancies Rogen International and AchieveGlobal, during which time I completed professional-level Executive Coaching (Institute of Executive Coaching), Advanced Presentation (Rogen International) and Pitch Consulting (Rogen International) programs, I founded my own Consulting and Coaching Practice.

I have developed executive leadership education programs, consulted on leadership communications strategies, and coached many C-Suite executives to overcome career-challenging blockages. My highly successful WIN program has helped stimulate rapid growth for clients, and my crisis-based leadership consulting has produced measurable success in a range of industry sector assignments.
Industry sectors spread across Pharma, Mining, State Government, Accounting, Consulting, Recruiting, Youth Development, World Health, ,

ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP RESEARCH

Doctoral Candidate in Leadership Research (RMIT, Melbourne) (2011-2013)

Awarded Masters by Research equivalence, College of Business, RMIT University, Melbourne, for development of executive education programs.
Entered PhD program, by invitation, RMIT School of Management, (deferred, research ongoing) to research the new field of Postformal Leadership, drawing on 40 years of work by Harvard research psychologists into higher adult development. Preliminary research presented as an invited plenary speaker at international conferences in Europe: UE-FISCDI, Bucharest, and ESRAD, Freiburg. Findings have now been expanded into Board Briefings on the future of leadership.

Formerly Adjunct Professor and Professional Fellow at IDEAS, Southern Cross University, NSW, Australia (2017-2023).

ADDITIONAL LEADERSHIP-RELATED PROJECTS

Author of Savage Coast – the leader’s story of Australia’s first Arctic Expedition

Earle’s acclaimed book, 'Savage Coast - Inside Australia's First Arctic Expedition' is now in its second fully revised edition. It is a true story of survival in the Arctic wilderness in early winter. A valuable record of the complexities of leadership during constant challenge, it provides detailed real-world insights for leaders wanting to prepare for futures of escalating uncertainty. Held in private collections and libraries worldwide, including Oxford University and Royal Geographical Society.

Film Producer of Savage Coast - International Release

'Savage Coast', a one-hour documentary film shot on location in Arctic Greenland during early winter storms in 1985-86. Produced by Earle's film company, Pickwood River. Internationally released, through Discovery, CBC, BBC, ABC. Also screened in Eastern Europe, South America, Israel, South Africa, and more recently in France and Denmark. Shot by Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Mike Boland (Tribal Wisdom, The Nature of Things) and Oscar-nominated sound recordist Greg Burgmann (The Thin Red Line). Watch the trailer.

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1st Circumnavigation of Tasmania by Sea Kayak

In 1979 I completed the first sea kayak circumnavigation of Tasmania, a 1,600km voyage of 70 days and Australia's first modern major sea kayak expedition.

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1st Australian Expedition to the Arctic - East Greenland

In 1985 I led Australia's first Arctic Expedition, travelling 5,200km in yacht and sea kayaks, across the North Atlantic and the coast of East Greenland in early winter.

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1st Research Expedition to Quail Creek, Kimberley Wilderness

In 1984 I co-led the first scientific expedition to explore the Quail Creek region deep in the Kimberley wilderness, travelling 11,000km by four-wheel drive, small boat, and sea plane.

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Founding President, Mansfield Chamber of Commerce

1983-1985

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Director, Australian Bicentenary Tall Ships Spectacular

1987-1988

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Founding Director, Explorers UK Adventure System

1990-1998

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Book image
Savage Coast is an unrivalled story for our highly uncertain times.

Here is the leader’s inside story of Australia’s 1985-86 historic first Arctic expedition, to an uncharted coast in early winter. It’s an epic of what happens to a $2.5 million voyage to the end of the world where all your plans are blown away by a winter hurricane and all that’s left is slow starvation in a soaked sleeping bag on a wave-battered coastal rock, with no possibility of rescue or of your bodies ever being discovered, except by hungry polar bears.

Savage Coast offers an almost unrivalled look inside the reality of complex leadership decision-making where almost everything conspires against the expedition’s success, or even its survival. In this story of ongoing crises there are non-stop insights and valuable lessons for those who can expect to be engaged in tomorrow's front-line climate crisis leadership.

Extract from the first edition cover  ---

"A disabled yacht is towed into a remote Arctic village just as winter begins. It has been drifting amongst offshore reefs in freezing sea fog, as giant icebergs cruised past. The engine no longer works, the radio and compass have failed and the sails and rigging are largely worn out. Aboard is a dispirited crew. They have travelled here from the opposite side of the world, now they are trapped, unable to escape the looming freeze by heading south for somewhere warmer. Beneath the surface of the crew’s brittle cohesion, there are tensions waiting to explode and one member has already erupted in uncontrolled violence. As winter’s first hurricane blasts down from the 10,000-foot high icecap and through the village at 240kph, the die is cast for a journey none of them could have imagined."

Vox Pops

"Timeless insights into the hidden depths of leadership”
-Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bt, OBE, FRGS, world’s greatest living explorer

“Fully captures the reality of leadership.”
- Dr Iain McCormack, Polar Psychologist

“Deep insights into complexity and unpredictability.”
- Sir Gustav Nossal, Emeritus Professor, University of Melbourne

“A masterpiece of exploration by a poet of action” 

- Bill Green, Author and Screenwriter: ‘Terminator 2’.

“An unvarnished record of a major achievement”

- Professor Barry Jones. Australian Minister for Science 1983-90

“A fascinating exploration of an explorer”
- Phillip Adams. International Broadcaster

“Its frankness in describing success and failure sets it apart from leadership books.”
- Jonathan Hutchings, Company Managing Director

“Reveals that leadership cannot be taught, no leader is infallible and there is no single recipe for success.”
- Richard Gilmore, Executive Director: EarthWatch Trust

Selected Reviews

“This book is a powerful account of an expedition that Earle de Blonville led to East Greenland in 1985-86. This is a powerful story of privation, courage, obstinacy and tenacity, full of sharp insights, vividly written, an unvarnished record of a major achievement. The story, with its freshness and immediacy, is timeless, demonstrating what charismatic leadership can achieve, against all odds.”

“This is a brilliant, beautifully written testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. The book tells Earle de Blonville’s own story as the leader of Australia’s first expedition to the Arctic in 1985-86. It illustrates the power of one man’s vision and the courage of the author and his men to rise above extreme adversity to carry it out. It offers rare glimpses into the extraordinary weight of responsibility he shouldered. This book should appeal to anyone seeking to chart a course for themselves or their organization in the rapidly changing uncharted landscape and uncertain futures of our fragile planet.”

“How Earle and his hard-bitten team survive their battle with the elements is nothing short of a miracle. Earle is a fine lyrical writer with enchanting passages on the subtlety and spirituality of polar seascapes. Importantly, he is brutally honest with descriptions of the rawness of basic living in makeshift camps ashore and with the agony of personality clashes. Every nautical mile of this journey is hard-won. For Earle, there could be no turning back.”
Arctic Explorer and Leadership Philosopher Earle de Blonville, FRGS, delivers Leadership lessons drawn from his personal experience of leading Australia's first Arctic expedition, to East Greenland. On this harrowing expedition, everything that could go wrong did so, sometimes more than once. The key lessons de Blonville explains here are that the future is always unknown, uncertain and impossible to be prepared for just by training based on hypotheticals. The single greatest truth revealed is that the only certainty is uncertainty, meaning that Leadership requires being ready for any circumstances, most of them unexpected. This means Leadership is a matter of personal character, flexibility, adaptiveness and courage, not of authority, status or force of personality. The leader must humbly accept that no one can ever be sure that any decisions taken under duress, in the field, are right, reliable or anything more than best guesses. Only time will reveal if they were. As today's Climate Catastrophe increases its grip on our planet, these Leadership Lessons from Hell will become more relevant and valuable.
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