Business lessons learned from a desert competition

When Laura Wanlass, partner and global corporate governance and ESG advisory practice leader for Aon’s human capital team, set out to compete in her fourth Rebelle Rally this October, she knew she would face uncertainty and adversity that would require her to be agile and resilient. Similar qualities that Aon holds when helping clients manage risks and volatility.

The all-female competition, where participants navigate off-road terrain and different checkpoints with only a compass and maps is mentally and physical grueling, according to Laura. No technology of any kind is permitted — not that participants would get a cell phone signal if they tried.

“When I first started, I wasn’t sure I could handle completely unplugging,” she says. Laura found that it was not only doable and energizing but going on a technology-free vacation also served benefits to her team at work. “They felt empowered to handle any client emergencies or questions that came up while I was gone,” she says.

Laura notes that one of the biggest business lessons learned from Rebelle is that pushing your comfort zone is almost always worth it. “We face these decisions each day – whether to put yourself in an uncomfortable position and risk failure. Usually, the failure we fear isn’t really a huge deal in the bigger picture.”

The competition has also taught Laura the importance of being a collaborative leader. “You can’t blame anyone for messing up because usually we all have a role to play. We needed to work together, be collaborative and not point fingers for when one of us made a mistake.” Imperative lessons she was able to take back and teach her team.

Laura surpassed her expectations when she and her partner placed third in the competition this year.

Her advice to everyone is to try something new. If off-roading for more than a week in the middle of the desert isn’t your cup of tea, Laura says the sense of adventure can translate to just about anything: “Try something in your career or personal life that stretches you. You have little to lose and so much to gain.”

Visit the Human Capital Solutions website to learn more about how you can build an agile and resilient workforce.

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