Opening Speaker

No-one told us it was impossible - Sebastián Álvaro, Spain

Drawing on his experience as the creator and director of Spanish TV show Al filo de lo Imposible [On the Edge of the Impossible] for almost 30 years, Sebastián Álvaro makes a return to a world full of the most intense emotions, the wildest locations and the most daring adventures to reflect on the importance of values and skills like intelligence, courage, good planning and teamwork in overcoming challenges that seem impossible.

It is not only heroes who consider taking on tasks like these, but intelligent, capable and hard-working individuals who believe that they can achieve important goals by putting in effort and enthusiasm, and by working shoulder to shoulder with like-minded people. Creativity, curiosity and imagination are the characteristics that best demonstrate intelligence, and it is precisely these that push us to ask questions of ourselves. They have been the driving force for humanity's progress. Taking risks and knowing how to manage them, working with passion and enthusiasm – this is what differentiates people and teams.

Learning from failure and knowing how to get back up after a knock back is what sets people apart. More important than success is knowing how to face adversity in the particularly difficult moments that test us as people and teams. As Shackleton demonstrated in the Endurance expedition of 1914, leading is vital for facing the storm and surviving it. The excellent British explorer left us his keys for success: be the first to lead by example, keep the team united in the face of danger, know how to bring the best out of each person on the expedition, as well as the conviction that ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary things in difficult moments. Restore hope, be supportive, introduce technological innovation knowing it provides intelligence and courage, know how to make the right decision at critical moments.

These are the factors that truly decide our fate. Be aware of how hope and opportunity always stay with us, even in the worst moments, of how it is our duty to minimise the consequences after an accident, and how, even in the midst of tragedy, we should take strength from weakness and get back up again. Because, despite everything else, the biggest error we can commit is not daring to seize hold of what we want from life. 

The best way to summarise this is perhaps with the phrase by poet Robert Browning, written on Ernest Shackleton's headstone: “I hold that a man should strive to the uttermost for his life’s set prize”.

The keynote lecture will be held in Spanish, a simultanous translation to English is available.