Skip to main content Skip to Footer


Taking overachievers to African bush for digital detox

By Heather Orton, Senior Manager, Accenture Operations, London

Connect with Heather Orton's Profile on LinkedIn. This opens a new window.

In the last couple of years, there has been a noticeable increase in articles on digital saturation, the need for digital detox, and the impact that being constantly connected has on both individuals and organizations. We’ve heard the statistics—68 percent of us taking a device to bed, 84 percent of us not being able to go a day without our smartphones and stress-related illness costing our economies in excess of £100 billion per year.

Other research shows that those who take the time to slow down, take daily walks outside or spend at least a third of their week on self-reflection are more effective leaders, more capable of dealing with the stress that life throws at them.

Heather Orton in the Lake District, England

As a self-diagnosed overachiever, I have to ensure that I create space for reflection and rejuvenation, to maintain my resilience and perform at my best in all aspects of my life, including the job. Spending time outdoors, pushing my perceived limits by setting myself adventurous challenges and coaching others allows me to find the optimum life balance between action and reflection.

In 2012, I combined all of these passions to create the Back to Basics Experience, which started as a very personal journey of looking for my own solitude and sanctuary. We invite other successful overachievers, once a year, to disconnect from their busy lives and reconnect with their surroundings and themselves. We take 15-20 people to the South African Bushveld and immerse them in nature (with no fences, no electricity, no running water and, most importantly, no Wi-Fi).

Game drive from Back to Basics Group 2016

The Back to Basics Foundation benefits those who attend, but also, as a social enterprise, the foundation supports the local communities we visit by investing profits gained back into the communities, supporting local conservation efforts, local schools and hospitals. The Foundation also allows me to meet my values of contribution, community, connection and growth.

Being able to run this wellness project and pursue my adventurous interests, in parallel to helping organizations improve the way they do business through my job as a consultant at Accenture, makes me more likely to succeed on challenging projects. It also makes me better equipped to deal with the unexpected, to drive engagement across diverse personalities and to be a more effective leader. Constantly challenging my own boundaries means I am more flexible to change, accepting of others when they turn up on their worst day, and always looking to learn from my journey and fail forward or lean in.

Back to Basics Group 2015

“Constantly challenging my own boundaries means I am more flexible to change.”

Heather Orton in the Lake District, England

One of my favorite quotes is Mahatma Gandhi’s “be the change that you want to see in the world.” This is what I aspire to every day, both in and outside of the office.