October 21, 2019
Scaling the heights for charity
By: James Tufnell

“…when I heard about Accenture offering employees three days a year to complete charitable activities, I knew that this was the company I wanted to join.”

I am a first-year analyst in the ACG (Analyst Consulting Group) working with a large public sector organisation. In August, I powered down my laptop and went on an adventure, using my Accenture charity allowance to summit Mont Blanc in order to raise money for the charity Mary’s Meals.

Over the last few months, I have juggled working in a fast-paced and exciting client-facing environment, with working towards a part-time degree at Oxford University, serving as a soldier in the Army Reserve and training to climb the highest mountain in Western Europe. This has been extremely challenging but thanks to the help of my supportive and inspiring colleagues, I have managed to keep all the balls up in the air.

When I first joined Accenture following my studies at Cambridge University, I was struck by how interested and engaged the company is in the extracurricular activities its employees undertake. I have received nothing but support for my various endeavours. Moreover, one of Accenture’s core values is that of Stewardship. I am a strong believer in civic responsibility, and as such, when I heard about Accenture offering employees three days a year to complete charitable activities, I knew that this was the company I wanted to join.

By way of some context on why I decided to climb Mont Blanc, every year I try to do at least one little adventure. In the past I have completed the Marathon des Sables in Morocco, finished an Ironman, cycled the length of Britain and across the Alps, driven from London to Mongolia and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Mont Blanc had been on my bucket list for a few years. My cousin recently climbed the mountain and having seen such wonderful photos of the views of the summit and on hearing that it was a very rewarding challenge, I was very eager to make the climb myself.

Having entirely self-funded the climb (with help from my ACG joining bonus) and seeing it as a potential opportunity to support a charity, I elected to raise some money for the charity Mary’s Meals.

Mary’s Meals is a global movement that sets up school feeding programmes in communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education. It costs Mary’s Meals as little as £13.90 to feed a child in school for a year in countries like South Sudan and Malawi. I hoped to raise £1,390 for the charity, thereby enough for them to feed 100 children for a year. To me, education is the great enabler and it is incredibly important to try and facilitate however possible. At the time of writing I have raised £1,670 for Mary's Meals. I hope to be able to raise over £1,700 and have been overwhelmed by the support of my friends, family and colleagues towards the charity.

The climb to Mont Blanc’s summit at 4,810m, was arduous but beautiful. Using crampons and ice axes, my fellow climbers and I enjoyed what our guides described as the best conditions they had ever seen on the mountain. It wasn't too cold, and the sun blazed all day (so much so I got sunburnt and my face ended up resembling a cherry tomato). Having traversed the pointed snowy ridges and glaciers and then climbed up jagged rock faces, we witnessed amazing views from the summit which more than justified the difficult climb.

The views were gorgeous, and we could see for miles around us. It was hard not to be dumbstruck by the glory of the mountain and its surrounding landscape. The only negative reflection I could glean from the experience was that the glaciers around the mountain were obviously retreating. Climate change is a very real threat to the mountains and the livelihoods of the local people. On a positive note however, I didn’t see an ounce of litter; a fact I would like to applaud all the people who climbed the mountain for.

Overall, I cannot recommend climbing up Mont Blanc highly enough. If any current or future colleague would like some advice on climbing the mountain, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

The corporate citizenship charity days are a fantastic company policy and opportunity, and I would like to extend a thank you to all my colleagues for the generous support they showed to both Mary’s Meals and me.

Read more on the importance Accenture places on taking responsibility for the way our company affects the environment and how we help to make an impact on social welfare here.


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