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How your office will look post Covid-19

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What your recruitment consultant can do for you

The process of searching for a new role can be a daunting process for some people. Compiling your cv, reviewing job boards and deciding on which recruitment consultant to use can be time consuming, especially if you are working full time. Securing the right position is crucial and not just from a job satisfaction or remuneration perspective, it will also impact your next move. Therefore, choosing which recruitment consultant(s) to partner with is an important part of the process. Ideally you want to work with a recruitment consultant who is experienced and a specialist in your area. These recruitment consultants will have extensive in-depth market knowledge and will be best placed to assist you when searching for your next role.  

Here are some of the services that a well networked recruitment consultant and recruitment firm such as The Panel can offer you. 

Advice 

  • A good recruitment consultant will be able to assist your job search in a variety of ways. They will be able to advise you on cv preparation, your LinkedIn profile, how to prepare for different interview formats and how to sell your experience and critical skills to distinguish yourself from other applicants. 

Feedback 

  • They will provide honest and detailed constructive feedback on your interviews, highlighting any areas that you need to improve on. 

Market Insights 

  • Recruitment consultants can advise you on current salary levels and what you are worth in the market. This is especially useful when you are due a salary review or negotiating an offer. 

  • They can also offer specialist advice on market trends, what sectors are busy and what skills are in demand. 

Guidance 

  • A good recruitment consultant will offer career guidance and assist with planning your career and what steps you will need to make to achieve your long-term career goals. 

Network  

  • An experienced recruitment consultant will also have built up a large network during their career. When you partner with a recruiter not only will you have access to their network, it can also open additional opportunities you didn’t know about.  

Exclusivity  

In addition, some recruitment consultants will have exclusive agreements with some companies and these roles may not be advertised. 

Recruitment consultants like to work with candidates on an exclusive basis particularly if they feel they have lots of roles to run by them. Exclusivity means you develop a strong working relationship with your consultant and know they are always considering you for roles as they come in. 

Confidentiality 

A recruitment consultant will work on your application in a confidential manner. They will request GDPR consent from you to hold your details on file and to send your CV to their client firms. Your recruitment consultant should always ask for permission to send your details to a client. In The Panel we have always focused on providing the highest level of service to candidates and have always asked for permission from candidates to send their details to client firms.  

With Covid-19 the traditional face to face interview is now being replaced by video calls. The majority of our clients are conducting video calls for their interviews, using various apps including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoToMeetings and Skype.  

For a job seeker there are many variables to consider when conducting a video call. Our colleagues Adam Ryan has prepared an article on how best to approach a video call interview and how you should prepare, and Sarah Kelly recorded a very useful video on what to consider when updating your CV

At the end of the day recruitment consultants are here to help you and to take the stress out of finding your dream job. They will save you time that you can instead spend with your family, friends or hobbies. Remember, a well networked recruitment consultant will open many doors for you! 

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Looking beyond COVID19

As the Covid-19 crisis stretches on and working from home (something which for many was a much sought-after option only a few weeks ago) is quickly becoming tedious, it is very easy to focus on the negatives.  We are craving watercooler chats, coffees with our colleagues and the faster pace of work that we so often complained about.  We miss dinners with friends, many are pining for their cancelled holidays and everyone is worried about the health of their loved ones.

However, let’s focus on the positives for a minute – there was a time, not so long ago when the thought of being at home with our families during the week and having more time to ourselves was something that we could only dream about.

Let’s use this time well and try to make the most of this change in routine.  Like everything else, this will pass and I’m sure we will miss this time when it’s gone.

There are plenty of productive things we can be doing to keep our spirits high, while still social distancing and keeping our community safe:

For hiring managers

  • think about any future growth plans or gaps in your current team.  If you are able to do so, now is an excellent time to hire.  A lot of excellent talent is now becoming available; people have moved home from abroad, cut travelling short or are being laid off giving you a bigger pool of candidates than in recent times. Technology is allowing us to stay connected and move interview processes along. Here at The Panel, we are working on live jobs with our clients and organising interviews via Zoom, Webex and Skype for business. Interviews are happening quicker than usual as candidates/clients have more time and hiring decisions are being made without the traditional face to face meeting;

For employees:

For everyone:

  • use this extra time to learn something new and upskill.  Many e-learning platforms are offering discounts or free courses over the next few weeks to help people to fill their time during the crisis
  • connect with friends near and far with phone calls or video calls, organise group quiz nights, remote dinner parties or book club meetings;
  • use this time to get around to the home improvements or gardening that you keep putting off; and
  • make the most of having a bit more time to spend with your family by going on lunchtime walks, playing games, eating dinners together, or by teaching your kids to cook, bake or ride a bike.

This is undoubtedly a time that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.  While we cannot control everything that will happen or for how long it will continue, let’s try and come out the other side with a few achievements and some good memories!

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7 Top tips for video interviewing in 7 minutes

Article by: Adam Ryan, Senior Recruitment Consultant, The Panel

In the current Covid-19 driven climate of social distancing many Irish companies are continuing their recruitment processes via phone and (increasingly) video conferencing (VC) software.  There are lots of choices out there e.g. Skype, MicroSoft Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts etc. most of which do not require the interviewee to download any software or programmes they just need to have a web browser such as Chrome. 

This type of interviewing is uncommon in Ireland, with us being on a relatively small island there are few barriers to being able to meet face-to-face.  Compare this to North America, for example, where the ideal candidate for a role could be in a state several hours flight away.  Here the use of VC for interviews is a regular occurrence.   

So, I have spent several hours scouring the internet reading various guides on VC interviewing from our American cousins – so you don’t have to! 

Here is a synopsis of best practices to follow for your next VC interview. 

1. Location, location, location. The biggest to consider is where in the house you are during the VC call.  Factors include: 

  • The lighting. You don’t want the main source of light to be behind you, so your face is in shadow, so don’t sit with your back to window for example.  Soft lighting is best so try to have a low wattage lamp next to your laptop perhaps. You want to make sure your features are clearly visible, but that you don’t look like you’re under a spotlight! 
  • The backdrop. It’s best practice to have a clean uncluttered backdrop if possible, an unadorned wall is best, try to avoid having a window, wardrobe, or wall of pictures of you partying with your friends during your gap-year, you get the idea. 
  • The Angle. For most us our laptop webcams are below our eyeline, looking down can cause unnatural shadows on our face and for it to appear we have more chins than we might like to show the world (think of Rick Gervais’ bath pics)!  So, it’s best practice to elevate your laptop so the webcam is at eye level or a little higher so that you are looking slightly up to address the camera.  You can put your laptop on a stack of books to achieve this.

2. Your outfit. Dress as you would for a face-to-face interview.  Your recruiter should be able to give you a steer on what’s expected here.  Something to note for a VC interview, that you do not need to consider when meeting face-to-face, is how your outfit fits with your backdrop.  If the colours are too similar you might blend in with the wall behind you, if too different it might make it a jarring image on the screen. 

3. Avoid interruptions. Make sure your mobile phone is on silent and any programmes on your laptop that might produce audible notifications (e.g. emails / FB messages etc.) are turned off. Try your best to ensure that during your interview you are not interrupted by housemates, young children or pets walking through your backshot.  However, if something does happen to interrupt you, don’t ignore it (like the infamous BBC economics pundit!), apologise to the interviewer(s) and address the interruption to ensure you can get back to your interview without distraction – make a joke out of it even to diffuse any tension there may be about the incident. 

4. Use notes but don’t rely on them. One of the great things about VC interviewing is that you can have a few notes pre-prepared to refer to during the interview.  These should be short, cue card type notes, e.g. post its stuck to the laptop or desk out of shot to remind you to mention specific, relevant achievements or good questions you might want to ask.  You do not want to be seen reading from a sheet of paper during the interview! 

5. Body Language / Look at the webcam. Nonverbal communication is vital, and though harder to do over VC than face-to-face there are a few things you can do to aid this.  Make sure you look into the webcam when speaking, not the screen – this is the next best thing to holding eye contact.  Let the interviewers know you are engaged when they are speaking by nodding during the conversation or leaning in slightly to show you interest.  What you do not want to do is stay so still they think your web cam has frozen! 

6. Practice makes perfect. A test run before your interview is vital, your recruiter or a friend will be able to help you here, this way you will be able to check that the sound from your laptop and mic work ok, the lighting is fine and that your backdrop/outfit don’t clash.  If you have to use a software account (you usually will not) such as Skype, make sure the picture that goes with your profile is suitable – if you set up your skype account while you were in college and have a picture of you on the beach sipping a cocktail – maybe change it or get rid of the picture all together! 

7. Don’t stress! These are unprecedented times we are living in, so if you can’t get all of the above perfect or if something goes wrong during your VC interview – do not stress about it.  One of the great things to have come out of the current crisis is the empathy I am seeing from everyone I deal with, be they clients, candidates, friends, family or colleagues.  We all know these are challenging times and everyone is doing their best, so do your best, acknowledge any issues that occur – those interviewing will understand. 

If you have a VC interview lined up – Good Luck!  Feel free to give your consultant at The Panel a call and we’ll be happy to share any further tips or run through a quick practice VC call with you. 

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NEW BLOG: How to Create the Ultimate LinkedIn Profile

Standing out from the crowd is hard to achieve, especially on LinkedIn, a global platform with at least 1 million active professionals. 

If you are looking for a career change, it’s vital to create a LinkedIn profile and online presence that impresses recruiters and employers in your chosen industry. You need to give them a reason to be curious the more they learn about you. It may sound like a difficult feat, but it’s completely possible. 

Furthermore, your LinkedIn profile should match the type of job you want. You are essentially using the platform to market and brand your skills, values and goals. And the hope is that you are contacted for an interview with a company that suits your ideal workplace. 

In this article, you’ll learn methods that will make your LinkedIn profile more magnetic for the next job that could change your career for the better. We will give you tips on how to maximise your profile and optimise each section to further your chances of getting noticed by the best employers and recruiters in Ireland. 

6 Fast Tips for Maximising your LinkedIn Profile Reach

Before we delve into what to include in the most important sections of your LinkedIn profile, here are some quick tips you can apply straight away to your page: 

  1. If your LinkedIn profile visibility is currently set to private, consider changing it to public so that employers who want to find you, can. 
  2. Use specific keywords throughout your profile that match the job you’re looking for. If you optimise elements of your profile with key terms and phrases you expect a potential employer to use, you will appear in more search results.
  3. The more robust your profile is, the higher you will be in the search rankings. So, ensure that your entire LinkedIn is filled out, including sections like companies, education, and awards. According to LinkedIn, they are the key items on which employers and recruiters search for.
  4. Post regularly on LinkedIn about topics relevant to the industry you are pursuing, tell people about your business achievements and share blogs or articles you’ve written. 
  5. Use the LinkedIn importer tool to bring your real world professional relationships online and to find your contacts who are already on LinkedIn. The larger your network is, the higher your chances of getting noticed are. 
  6. If you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to update your Career Interests section, as this will open the door wider to you receiving more opportunities. 

What to Include in Each Section of Your LinkedIn Profile  

Many people fail to maximise their LinkedIn profile reach when it comes to filling out each element. So, to help you create a captivating profile, here is what we recommend you include. 

Job Title: Try to avoid generic terms such as “Brand Manager” or “Account Executive, as these don’t describe the unique value you have to offer prospective employers. Be more specific and demonstrate a customer-centric mindset by writing a job title that tells employers exactly what you specialise in. Think of keywords related to your current or future role, and if you incorporate those words, not only will it improve your search visibility, it will also demonstrate you speak the industry language.

Example: “Brand Manager” might become “Brand Manager for Creative Design Agency”. 

Headline: Think of your LinkedIn headline as a 5-second elevator pitch that compels an employer to want to read more about you. Be specific yet creative, and remember to use keywords that accurately reflect your skillset. 

Example: Injecting creativity and a fresh perspective into design brand campaigns. 

Summary: Your summary section can be used for either a short and sweet snapshot of your personality, skills and work goals or a more elaborate narrative. Use this space to describe what your current position is, and if you are looking for a career transition, mention what the next role is that you are seeking. Remember to update your summary after each job so that’s it up-to-date and relevant to your current goals. 

Work Experience: A thorough and detailed work history suggests a commitment to your career, which builds trust. It gives potential employers an idea of what your skillset looks like, so that they can decipher if you are a good fit for their job vacancies. Incomplete or small-worded job descriptions may raise questions with prospective employers and won’t help your chances of appearing search results.

Education: Giving details of the universities and degrees you have completed tells the story of your professional life. It proves your academic achievements and makes your profile more searchable through keywords. And remember, your ideal employer is looking for someone with the right skills and knowledge. So, instead of merely saying you went to a university, why not tell employers exactly which skills and knowledge you developed during your student days?

Skills and Endorsements: This section is a way of demonstrating social proof on LinkedIn for you and your abilities. Potential employers might notice that you have relatively few endorsements for a skill or experience that is required for their position and that you have received many more for a different skill. That sends a clear signal to them: where your expertise really lies. Therefore, it’s so important to have a strong LinkedIn network of people that know you personally and who can vouch for the skills you say you have. Don’t be afraid to reach out to former colleagues and managers and ask them to endorse you for a skill you want to be noticed for! 

 

According to LinkedIn, people with 5 or more skills listed are contacted up to 33x more by recruiters/employers than other LinkedIn members, and receive up to 17x more profile views. 

Recommendations: From an employer’s point of view, recommendations provide valuable insights into a person’s abilities and skillset. But gone are the days where 1 or 2 sentences is enough. Employers and recruiters now look for long, detailed recommendations that talk about a person’s strengths, how he/she got along with other co-workers and how the person overcame problems at work. When you reach out to your network and ask for recommendations, be strategic about it and suggest experiences or skills that you would like them to highlight. Ask them to quantify their recommendations by including specific examples because specific measurable examples attract more attention than some bland and generic statements.

To Conclude

It may sound like a lot of work, but once your LinkedIn profile clearly represents who you are and what your career goals are, the hardest part is over. The most important thing to remember in the quest for your next role, is that people with “up to date” profiles are discovered up to 18 times more in searches by employers and recruiters. LinkedIn suggests that if you’re currently in transition, rather than note unemployed you can add a title similar to what you want to pursue. For example, “marketing executive open to field marketing positions”. 

The Author: Andrew Ganly, Associate Director, The Panel Search & Selection 

Andrew has worked with The Panel for over 15 years’ and current manages the Accountancy Division.  He is responsible for recruiting senior finance roles in industry on a permanent & contract basis, for a wide range of clients across multiple sectors, often on an exclusive basis. Whether you are a client looking to fill an important role or a candidate seeking advice on their next move Andrew is well placed to advise you on the current market.

If you would like to discuss your career path, contact Andrew Ganly on [email protected] or 01 – 6377085 today. 

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The Future of Work Requires More Soft Skills

As companies evolve and adapt to the digital future of work, there is an increased demand for employees that display strong soft skills. These people are essential for companies to survive the rapid changes that will ultimately bring about volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

In Deloitte’s recent Human Capital Trends Report, it found that only 14% of business leaders believe traditional organisational models, with hierarchies de-lineated by expertise, make their teams effective and productive. 

So, as companies start to reduce these hierarchies and create flatter team structures, there is a higher demand for more agile employees who are adaptable, creative and can work on multiple projects across multiple teams. In fact, these skills will be more sought after than technical skills. 

As the World Economic Forum notes in their Future of Jobs report: “Social skills—such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others—will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills.”

The Importance of Soft Skills Over Technical Skills 

Soft skills won’t replace the need for technical knowledge completely, but as artificial intelligence and automation continues to change the future of work, soft skills will be needed to carry out tasks that AI systems can’t yet undertake.

The soft skills that employers will seek include critical thinking, problem-solving, adaptability, creativity and innovation. 

There is no time like the present for people to build on their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and employers will play a huge role in nurturing and developing the growth of these skills among their employees, in order to make their workforce ready for the future.

Soft Skills of the Future  

Employers are already willing to pay more for employees who have soft skills because although they are hard skills to learn, they are the most portable of skills. Meaning, they can be transferred from one job to another.

Here is a more in-depth look at the soft skills people will need in order to thrive in the shifting landscape of work.

Complex Problem Solving: Complex problem solvers can pinpoint when something has gone wrong and even anticipate a complication before it even exists. This ability to notice that something is amiss requires a strong awareness of what is going on in every part of the business. For example, a problem solver will know what levels sales are supposed to be at and can notice if they suddenly drop. Furthermore, they will be able to offer solutions to fix the problem. 

Critical Thinking: Critical thinkers have the important ability to identify a problem or goal and then determine several possible actions to take through thoughtful analysis. After comparing the different options using data analytics, they will then be able to make an informed decision and pinpoint which one is likely to be more successful. 

Furthermore, they will also be able to act as decision-makers and display the ability to condense vast amount of data into insightful interpretations and measured decisions.

Creativity: Artificial intelligence programs are extremely good at spitting out several options, but they’re not necessarily good at providing creative or imaginative solutions. Thus, creativity as a soft skill is highly sought after. A creative employee is a person who can think outside the box and build innovative solutions to problems, out of confidence and unique ideas. They will possess the ability to be curious and try something new based on prior knowledge and enough understanding to see if a process can be improved. 

Teamwork: A recent study from Atlassian shows that 90% of companies are currently confronting problems so complex that only a strong team with good communication can solve them efficiently. Furthermore, it found that 78% of respondents don’t fully trust their teammates. Thus, nailing teamwork is a hugely important step towards success in the future of work and creating collaborative, adaptive teams that work well together. 

Emotional Intelligence: People who are emotionally intelligent have skills such as empathy and curiosity, which are qualities AI machines also don’t have. Emotional intelligence is a combination of two kinds of skills: intrapersonal skills and interpersonal skills, meaning how well a person manages their emotions, and how they relate to others.

Laura Wilcox of Harvard University recently said, “Emotional intelligence—the ability to, say, understand your effect on others and manage yourself accordingly—accounts for nearly 90% of what moves people up the ladder”. 

Negotiation: Employees with negotiation skills are highly sought after for their ability to come up with a win-win solution in a teamwork environment. It’s also very important for people with leadership roles to be able to build, maintain, and improve relationships, through the act of negotiation. 

Furthermore, good negotiators are fiercely efficient. Instead of wasting hours arguing with other colleagues, the negotiator navigates a common ground and eradicates the friction between non-negotiators. Thus, negotiations play a crucial role in the success of leaders and people who want advanced career progression.

Adaptability and Flexibility: Studies show that people who are highly adaptable are more highly valued than those who are highly skilled but less willing to adapt, flex, and change. Qualities that adaptive people demonstrate include: 

•    Being open to alternative solutions when suggestions are rejected by other team members.
•    Showing willingness to take on new roles, even when the new role feels like a challenge. 
•    Helping others to generate ideas and be creative. 
•    Being able to stay calm in stressful situations and meetings. 

Thus, the ability to adapt to changes and to be flexible, is about accepting reality and coping with it.

To Conclude 

According to the World Economic Forum, for those looking to future proof their careers, building competencies in areas that machines will be unlikely to tackle effectively (i.e. complex problem solving, creativity, adaptability) is the best recipe for success. By improving these skills, people who are looking for a career transition or job progression, will be most likely to succeed in the fast-paced, rapidly evolving workplaces of the future. 

The Author: Anne Keys, Joint Managing Partner, The Panel Search & Selection

Anne Keys leads The Panel’s executive search areas in Financial Services specifically in the areas of Funds and Fund Management. She is also the Brexit lead for The Panel and is working with new investment firms setting up in Ireland. During the course of her career, Anne has worked with many of the top Funds and Investment Management firms in Ireland and abroad and has seen how the requirements by organisations, big and small, has changed. She advises clients on the suitability of her candidates based on their soft skills and match to the company culture. Anne is also on the steering committee of 100Women in Finance and has signed the 30% charter on providing a diverse candidate slate to clients. 

If you would like to discuss your career path, contact Anne Keys on [email protected] today.

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1 billion seconds meets: Aoife Kelly

How long did you work for The Panel?
3 years, almost to the day.

What area did you recruit for?
I recruited for accounting roles.

What is your best memory from that time?
Definitely the people and the social events. We had lots of great times together, both in and outside of the office.

What have you been doing since? 
I left The Panel to travel and move to Vancouver, Canada where I’ve been living for a year now. I’m now working in sales for a Vancouver based tech start-up called Procurify, helping to build the partnerships network. 

In 5 words how would you describe The Panel?
Friendly, supportive, professional, genuine and fun!

Aoife, many thanks for sharing your memories of your time with us and we wish you all the best!

#ThePanelFamily #TeamThePanel

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1 billion seconds meets: Maree Smyth

Maree, how long did you work for The Panel? 
Almost 2 years (1 year 11 months).

What area did you recruit for?
I started off in IT then I moved across to Legal.

What is your best memory from that time? 
The endless client lunch parties we had in Dax restaurant. Always great fun!!

What have you been doing since?
Since leaving the Panel, my Career has taken a slight change in direction. I joined a company called Kelly OCG which is a global outsourcing and consulting solutions company. Kelly OCG provides cost-effective and process efficient outsourcing solutions. I was responsible for the recruitment expansion for Medtronic & Johnson & Johnson (Vision care) which includes the hiring process for contract roles. This involves managing relationships between the customer and the approved Vendors. I’m now in Vendor Management as a Senior Vendor Management specialist for a Pharmaceutical company called Regeneron in Limerick. 

In 5 words how would you describe The Panel? 
Innovative, Highly Networked, Friendly, Fun, Fair

Maree, many thanks for sharing your memories of your time with us and we wish you all the best!

#ThePanelFamily #TeamThePanel #1billionsecondsold

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1 billion seconds meets: Andrew Ganly

When did you join The Panel? 
23rd January 2002, with a break 

What area of the business are you in?
I started off working on accounts staff roles and I currently recruit for senior finance roles within industry.

What is your best memory to date?
I have to say meeting my wife or I will be in trouble!

How did you end up working for The Panel?
I joined the Panel after returning from a working holiday in Australia.

In 5 words how would you describe The Panel?
Fun, hard working and well networked.

Andrew, many thanks for sharing your experiences of The Panel, thanks for being a part of the team!

#ThePanelFamily #TeamThePanel

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7 Summits – Aconcagua 2 – Succeeding above the clouds!

From the top

As I took my final steps onto the summit I felt such joy and emotion. I was so proud of myself. I had been patient, I had learnt from last years’ experience, I had listened and had taken onboard so much advice. The long wait was over, the long hours of training were done, the mental preparation and my strength were stronger than ever, the “moment’’ was ahead of me to be enjoyed. I stopped at the summit cross covered with mementos, prayers flags, small national flags, beads, braids, cards and of course the signature box. I stood and stared at it as I realised what I had just achieved. I had succeeded, and the reality of this overcame me.

I had planned to record a touching few words thanking everyone while singing George Ezra’s song ’There is a mountain top that I’ve been dreaming of’’ but I could only piece together a few words!

Tears that had begun running down my face were freezing as they rolled off my cheek. I stood aside, letting the rest of the summiteers enjoy their moments, and sat down. I took a few moments to gather myself and take in the magnificent views of the other mountain ranges and the clouds below me. To look north and south up the spine of The Andes is just breathtaking. I felt so privileged. I felt so at peace with myself, the Mountain God’s and Mother Nature. I was at peace. I was, on top of the America’s …. 

The Journey Up

Returning to Mendoza was exciting as was meeting my new expedition Russian climbers. After acquiring the necessary National Park passes and Mountain Permits we departed Mendoza for Penitentes (a winter ski resort) at 2,400 meters arriving early afternoon. Prior to staying overnight, a trek to 3,000 meters was planned which we all enjoyed.

Penitentes – 2,400 meters

Confluencia – 3,400 meters

The next morning, we moved into the park and trekked 4 hours to Confluencia at 3,400 meters where we again stayed overnight leaving next morning for Base Camp (BC) – Plaza De Mulas at 4,300 meters. This is an 8 to 10-hour trek over difficult ground but the mountain ranges each, the views, and snow topped Aconcagua kept me entirely enthralled. Arriving tired, fulfilled and excited to be back at BC, we were greeted with hugs and congratulations, fresh fruit and drinks. I was eager to get settled in and sit with the guides and confirm our rotation / acclimatisation plans. Our summit push was still scheduled for the 28th / 30th but high winds and a lot of snow and very cold temperatures were a worry having already turned back four previous expeditions. There hadn’t been many summits in the weeks prior to our arrival but we had time and the weather forecast was improving. However, Aconcagua is renowned for his weather changes, good and bad, so we were hopeful the Mountain Gods and Mother Nature would be good to us.

Camp 1 – Canada – 5,000 meters

Camp 2 – Nino de Condores – 5,500 meters

Having returned to BC from our final rotation and overnighting at Nido de Condores at 5,500 meters it was decided to push for summit two days later, the 28th. We again slept at Nido de Condores and pushed onto Colera at 6,000 meters to rest, eat and push for summit next morning at 4.00 am. The altitude was having its effect. With 50% less oxygen available at this height completing anything such as setting your tent, organising gear for the morning, lacing or tightening boots left you gasping and needing to take some time to recover and breathe. At this height it is like someone sitting on your chest with your mouth and nose covered. It’s a real struggle! … Headaches, upset stomachs, nose bleeds are common and can be treated but anything worse can be dangerous. I was lucky this time not to feel any effect. My blood oxygen saturation levels were 87 and my heat beat was easing to sub 70 bpm. I knew I was in good shape and was still very happy and very positive.

Camp 3 – Colera – 6,000 meters – Summit in the background.

Summit morning is always exciting, anxious, nerve-racking, very cold and uncomfortable. Getting all your gear on can be very tiring but planning and not rushing is vital to conserving energy. Eating breakfast even though you are not hungry is imperative as is hydrating. We knew summit would be 10 to 12 hours. As we headed out I thought of last year and was looking forward to 6,500 meters again and breaking through where I turned. I knew I was stronger, and I had no doubts about my capability of summiting. The cold and wind were chilling. We moved slowly and as a result I stopped to add a layer and an additional pair of gloves. I followed the slow heels of my colleague and kept confirming to myself ‘’I can do this all day, I can do this all day’’ …. As day breaks it always gives you a real lift. The light edges over the horizon and the sun appears. You want to cheer but decide to stop to eat and drink and take a photo as the best option to conserving energy. The temperatures begin to rise. We stopped to again eat and drink at 6,500 meters. I was feeling very comfortable. I was still very strong, both at heart and mind. As we moved through The Cave and The Canaleta the summit was in view. The climb is relentless. The gradient is steep and seemed to be getting steeper, but every step was a step closer to the summit. Finally, after 12 hours we reached the summit. As I gathered myself I took the final steps to the summit cross while repeating to myself ‘’stay in the moment Del, stay in the moment’’ …. I was filled with emotion. I had succeeded. I was very proud of myself.

Reaching the summit at 6,962 meters “I was filled with emotion. I had succeeded. I was very proud of myself”!

After taking several photos and appreciating the breath-taking views we turned to descend and head back to Colera and 6,000 meters. The 4 long hours retreat was exhausting. Next morning, we returned to BC and onward to Penitentes and Mendoza for a well-earned steak and a glass or wine!

What a climb, what an experience! 

Lasting memory – moving through 6,500 meters where I turned back last year and leaving all those memories behind.

Now I can start planning for Vinson in Antarctica in December and number 5 of the 7 summits.

Bring It On! Derek

DBA my friends …. Dream, Believe, and you will Achieve.  

Derek, is supporting the mental health charity, GROW, raising mental health awareness. 

Here is an interview with Derek after his trip and summit to Aconcagua. The interview was carried out by Alan Bluett.