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If/When Jan 19, 2021

Overcoming Adversity: Going the Distance

Show Contributors: Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, Tom Parsons, Paul Thies


In 2019 Jacobs sponsored a team of four Royal Navy submariners as the crew of the HMS Oardacious, taking part in The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to row 3,000 miles unassisted across the Atlantic Ocean. Considered to be one of the toughest races in the world, Rowers rowed for two hours then slept for two hours, constantly for 24 hours a day, for roughly 40 days. In this episode of If/When, we spoke with Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs of the UK Royal Navy and the Expedition Leader of HMS Oardacious and Tom Parsons, former Jacobs BeyondZero Culture Manager Europe, to discuss lessons learned when faced with adversity.

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Episode notes

Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs joined the Royal Navy as an Officer after completing his Mechanical Engineering Masters at the University of Sheffield. After an intensive training and academic curriculum, he qualified as a Nuclear Reactor supervisor, serving on Vanguard Class Submarines. He says he has been truly fortunate to have led and worked with teams of highly trained technicians and operators in particularly challenging operational conditions. He has always enjoyed pushing himself physically and feels fortunate to have had a career which has encouraged this endeavour; be it indoor rowing competitions whilst deployed on operations, competing at Ironman 70.3 events or representing the Royal Navy at the International Defence Forces Rugby World Cup in Australia. He claims as his sporting highlight was being selected to sing the UK national anthem before playing the Army in 2012 in front of a packed Twickenham stadium.

Tom Parsons, former BeyondZero Culture Manager Europe, Jacobs Engineering, is a Chartered Engineer with expertise in leading teams in successful project delivery since 2012. Tom has held lead roles in delivered major infrastructure projects in the UK and Ireland and is passionate about working with high-performance teams. Tom moved into the area of safety, wellbeing and culture following completion of a Master’s degree in professional leadership in 2018. Tom believes the wellbeing of people is fundamental to Jacobs success. Tom led Jacobs' BeyondZero culture of caring in Europe, through which he brought a unique experience through his high-performance background in sport, playing with the Mayo Senior football team since 2008, and in that role he spoke from experience with respect to team culture, resilience and performance.