Wesley summits Mt. Kilimanjaro, brings lessons back to classroom

· 2 min read

Wesley summits Mt. Kilimanjaro, brings lessons back to classroom

As Veteran of the U.S. Navy, Dr. Kevin Wesley invokes his 24 years of service as critical to helping him practice team building in stressful situations.
As Veteran of the U.S. Navy, Dr. Kevin Wesley invokes his 24 years of service as critical to helping him practice team building in stressful situations.

Kevin Wesley is not one to shy away from an opportunity to stretch his strengths and grow as a leader and team member. It’s something he talks about in his Business Honors Academy course and an ethos he acquired as a United States Navy veteran with 24 years of service.

It’s also what led him to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world, last summer.

“I just really enjoy adventure. I wanted to go to Africa, I wanted to see the wildlife and the Serengeti and all those things,” Wesley, associate professor of practice in management, said. “And I do like to push myself.”

It was an adventure a long time in the making for Wesley, who was slowly persuaded by his friend Robert Kay — an avid climber and regular guest speaker in Kevin’s classes — to take up the challenge. Wesley brings Kay to speak to his classes as part of an exercise that examines the 1996 Mount Everest disaster and a subsequent case study from Harvard Business.

The segment culminates in lessons on leadership.

“Robert was slowly pushing me to make a climb like this over the years, and eventually I thought, ‘Well, I’m not getting any younger.’”

Wesley trained for months ahead of his 9-day excursion, climbing multiple 14,000-foot mountains in Colorado to adjust his body to the extreme elevations. Then, late in July, Wesley set out with 7 others to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

“It was a bit tougher than I’d anticipated,” he admitted. “We spent over 3 days between 16,000 and 18,000 ft. just to give your body a chance to acclimate, even though it really doesn’t.”

That adjustment period is necessary when it comes time to ascend to the peak, or “varsity day,” as Wesley calls it.

“You wake up at 3am on summit day and get back to camp at 8pm. So, it’s a no-kidding rough day — it’s definitely earned my respect,” he joked.

When he did finally summit the mountain, Wesley found himself reflecting on the same values he shares in his classes — being a team player.

“It reinforces that in high-stress situations, you really come to rely on your team members. Everything starts and ends with relationships.”

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