discovering her love for climbing
In March this year, Sophie Teo climbed Mera Peak in Nepal. At 6,476 metres, it was the highest summit she had ever scaled. But she has set her sights higher. Much higher. For Sophie, Mount Everest is the ultimate goal.
A nature lover, Sophie’s passion for mountain climbing began back in 2010 when she made her first successful ascent to the peak of Mount Yotei during a trip to Hokkaido, Japan.
Back then, however, the heavy workload of her job made pursuing this interest impossible. As senior service manager with a global technology company, she was practically working round-the-clock.
After a few years, she decided to take a break from her career. “The day after I left my job, I hopped on a plane to climb Mont Blanc”, she recalled.
However, the lack of training was evident, and she was not able to summit. She had to settle for Le Petit Mont Blanc – a smaller, less strenuous climb – and went on to backpack around Europe for 1.5 months, visiting multiple destinations including Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Italy, Hungary and Czech Republic.
embarking on a new journey
When she returned to Singapore, Sophie started working on her fitness and made good progress. After close to two-year break, the adventurer also decided it was time to get back to corporate life. In 2016, Sophie joined NCS as a Senior Solutions Architect and is currently a Partnerships and Alliances Manager where she oversees the building of strategic relationships between NCS and its business partners.
Sophie likens her role in the company to that of a building contractor. “In a construction job, the contractor is the one that coordinates the required works including the plumbing, wiring and carpentry needed to complete the renovation,” she said, “At NCS, we bring together different skillsets in order to come up with a complete end-to-end solution for the client.”
achieving a mutually beneficial outcome
Among the common challenges Sophie has to navigate in this role is the fact that “the interests of both parties are not always aligned”. In these instances, it is her responsibility to find creative ways to bridge the gap so that a deal can be closed successfully.
When it comes to dealing with partners, one of the main things that Sophie has learnt is to always understand their needs.
“I start by telling them my objectives and they will also share what they hope to achieve, so that we can find middle ground. If their goal is to find leads to generate opportunities, then it is on me to ensure that they speak to the right people in order to make that happen,” she said, “If the partner is happy, they will be more willing to do business with us.”
With her adventurous spirit and desire to co-create with clients, she exemplifies the spirit of adventure that NCS believes in.
The thing Sophie appreciates most about her job is the flexibility when it comes to working with partners. “There is no standard protocol involved. The basic principle is simply to be honest and upfront with each other so that the work can be done quickly without any hidden agenda,” she said.
the journey to Everest
While she is dedicated to her career, it is clear that Sophie’s love for mountain climbing remains.
Preparing for a climb is no mean feat. She works out seven days a week, doing different forms of training. Her regime includes high intensity training for cardio, resistance training to build up her strength, and a lot of staircase climbing – walking up and down the stairs with a heavy load – to train the leg muscles.
Endurance training is also important because climbers generally have to walk long distances during an expedition – sometimes 12 or more hours at a stretch. “It is mind over body,” she said.
In the second half of this year, the climbing enthusiast has made plans to climb Nepal’s Mount Manaslu. With an elevation of 8,163 metres, this trip will give her a “good gauge of how my body reacts and help decide whether I should do another climb before Everest”.
Despite the physical intensity and high costs associated with pursuing the sport, Sophie believes it is all worth it at the end of the day. “If I have only this sum of money and I can choose one category to spend it on, it will be experience,” she said.
“Every mountain has its own unique features which is what makes the challenge and experience different. The people you travel with are also different. The magnificent nature view and environment are different and unique too. And these differences are what makes the activity so enjoyable,” she said.