In May 2003, Pen Hadow was catapulted to international fame when he became the first person in history to sledge alone from Canada to the North Geographic Pole without any outside help - a feat of endurance thought to be harder than climbing Everest solo, without oxygen. It had taken him three attempts and fifteen years' dedication to achieve his goal, and despite severe setbacks, he walked, skied and swam for two months to fulfil a lifetime's dream.
Pen was educated at Harrow, where he was head of house, head of school, head of rugby, football and athletics, and where he achieved his first feat of endurance: completing a school marathon at the age of 15, the first time that any boy had attempted the course for exactly fifty years, and now an annual fixture for the school.
Then came his 'wilderness' years, when he struggled to resolve how best he could fulfil his potential, and, once he had set his heart on the polar regions, and the North Pole in particular, struggled even more to finally achieve his dream.
Pen read Geography at University College London, and went on to become the youngest-ever executive at Mark McCormack's renowned International Management Group, where he was more focused in helping others achieve rather than himself.
Pen Hadow leads the not-for-profit 90º North Unit which advocates for an international agreement to create a protected area for the international waters of the Arctic Ocean; and he is director of the annual scientific research and public engagement programme, Arctic Mission, which supports the Unit’s work.
The 90º North Unit is introducing a significant new perspective on the Arctic’s diminishing sea ice, revealing that the environmental issue is less about the geophysics of a melting layer of frozen sea water, and far more about the potentially catastrophic loss of a globally unique “floating ice-reef ecosystem” which includes some of the world’s most iconic species.
In 2017, Arctic Mission sailed two 50’ yachts into the North Pole’s international waters, the first non-icebreaking vessels in history to do so, to demonstrate the increasing accessibility of these waters to surface commercial shipping, fishing, tourism and mining, and therefore the emerging human threat to the wildlife already stressed by its reduced sea-ice cover habitat.
Pen Hadow's defining quality is his natural ability - and passionate commitment - to bridging the divide between the speaker and his audience, to convince his audience that if even he can achieve what he sets out to do, then there's no reason why they cannot do the same - it's all about what goes on in your head.
Engagingly self-deprecating, inspirational and focused, audiences quickly identify with his themes. Pen Hadow integrates his business experience, hard-won leadership skills honed guiding novice teams in extreme environments, and his own groundbreaking endeavours in the Arctic and Antarctic, to apply fresh perspectives to clients' key messages.