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Five with the Founder: Robyn Woodhead

Published 09 / 17 / 2020

Five with the Founder

Welcome to our second ‘Five with the Founder’, our business insights series featuring founders we work with and admire.

Today, we shine the spotlight on Robyn Woodhead, co-founder of White Desert, a luxury destination in Antarctica.

  1. How did you come to set up White Desert?

I grew up in a traveling family, always seeking adventure. I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro at 13 and went to Everest Base Camp and hiked the Inca Trail with my family. When I met my husband, a traveller fascinated by Antarctica, we raised funds to go and became immersed. Together, we masterminded a traverse of Antarctica that changed our lives. We knew the interior of Antarctica was an experience we wanted to share.

  1. What skills did you rely on in setting up your business?

Our experience is targeted at UHNW guests from a range of countries. My PR and marketing background gave me insight into how customers think and how to tailor an experience. It’s about taking the time to understand your customer. It’s also about passion – if you believe in a brand and the story it tells, genuine emotion shows and marketing to others becomes the easy part.

  1. How do you focus on the environmentally friendly side of the business?

Environmental consciousness has been at the core of White Desert from day one. We believe that by sharing the landscape with people, they will know it and want to protect it. We have an environmentally conscious supply chain, are the only aviation operator in Antarctica to be entirely Carbon Neutral and we are committed to supporting research and science.

  1. How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.

I recall when I had my first child, literally minutes after giving birth, I had a phone call from FT How to Spend it agreeing to feature White Desert for the first time and the journalist wanted an interview that moment, so I took the call.  Half an hour into the interview, my newborn started crying in the cot next to my hospital bed for a feed, the journalist asked if everything was ok, I said yes and explained that I had just given birth and was it ok if I ended the call soon to feed my newborn, and I also asked, but will you write the article. The journalist insisted I end the call and that he would write the article.

Balance is everything. Being well rounded makes you, well, more well-rounded and real.  Being real is what it’s all about to me.

  1. What are your future plans for White Desert?

We are focused on ensuring that Whichaway Oasis maintains its position as the only luxury camp in Antarctica. However, we are looking at whether there is an opportunity to offer trips that are more focussed on action sports and expeditions.

We are also conscious of our role as guardians of Antarctica. Our goal is to build a corps of Antarctic Ambassadors who care about the fragile environment we operate in and want to help protect it for future generations to come.

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