How Passion tops Uncertainty
06 December 2018
Michael Eppelmann

How Passion tops Uncertainty

All around the world, Boehringer Ingelheim employees work on creating value through innovation. Travelling with the sun, our new “Star Storytellers” series features aspirational individuals from east to west who embody our values and bring them to life.


Today we introduce our Indian colleague Virendra Lamba, a passionate mountaineer who has successfully been applying his trekking learnings to the workplace.

When Virendra Lamba talks about high-altitude trekking, his eyes start to shine. For more than 35 years it has been one of his major passions – even though it is painful, exhausting and risky. “Mountaineering is a very intense physical activity,” Virendra emphasizes. “Your lungs and heart are working hard and your brain is provided with less oxygen, so thinking gets harder. Often you have around -30°C, plus wind chill.” So one may legitimately wonder: Why to climb mountains over and over again?


Learnings from challenges

Virendra has a clear answer for this: “Every time I come back from the mountains, I have become a stronger individual – physically and mentally.” For life in general, he has learned the following lessons:


1. There is no goal that is big enough. “When you stand at the foot of a mountain, climbing it always seems impossible,” says Virendra. “But you will always find a foothold when you keep moving forward, step by step by step.”

2. Let go. “When you want to move forward, letting go is very important. Don’t allow self-doubts that you stop walking.”

3. One has to accept uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. “The only certainty on a mountain is that there is no certainty. The weather changes all the time, for instance. The goal is fixed, but the plans may have to change. You need to stay flexible.”

4. There is no point in blaming the circumstances. “Nature behaves how it behaves: High altitude brings low air pressure, and clouds can lead to rain or snowfall. I simply focus on what is under my control.”


Challenges at work and how to deal with them

For Virendra Lamba, these lessons have repeatedly been necessary for his survival when trekking – but he was also able to apply them to his work life at Boehringer Ingelheim. A major example for this is the integration of Merial India to the company. Virendra: “We got to know about it in January 2016 and were planning to get everything going in December, but all plans went for a toss. Nevertheless, we managed to catch up in 2017.” Focusing on business continuity and positive engagement with the stakeholders became key to make this happen. To motivate each other, cultural and sports activities were organized, and a monthly newsletter with best practices was sent around. “With this backdrop of understanding, clarity of purpose and the strategy in place, we were ready to fire.”


Stretching beyond one’s comfort zone, change, letting go and being disciplined can be painful. But when there is passion, as with Virendra when it comes to high-altitude trekking, there is no mountain tall enough not to be climbed.

"Don't allow your self-doubts that you stop walking, says Virendra Lamba. "
Michael Eppelmann

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