#140: Jeannette McGill on Summiting Your Own Mountain [Podcast] - Sparta Chicks

#140: Jeannette McGill on Summiting Your Own Mountain [Podcast]

Sparta Chicks Radio

May 31
Welcome Jeannette McGill to Sparta Chicks Radio
I know a lot of people do talk about your ‘why’ and ‘finding your why’. But that is fundamentally what you keep coming back to. And if you haven’t been very honest about your ‘why’ then you won’t have the necessary confidence either.

I’m excited to welcome Jeannette McGill to Sparta Chicks Radio this week.

Jeannette is a mountaineer and mining executive, who was introduced to me by Glenn Azar (former guest Alyssa Azar’s dad).

It always amazes me how the conversations I’ve had with various people throughout any particular week are reflected in the episodes I publish the same week (even though they may have been recorded weeks, and sometimes months, ago). 

And this week is no exception as I’ve had multiple conversations this week with women around why we do what we do - and that theme runs through this conversation with Jeannette.

Jeanette grew up in South Africa and mountains and the outdoors were a massive part of her life up until her mid-late 20s. 

And then her career took over - and took off.

A geologist by training, Jeanette began working in the mining industry and she has gone onto to become a senior mining executive and was named as one of the Top 100 most influential women in mining in the world.

But unfortunately, that came at the cost of her health, fitness and her time in the outdoors. 

But it was in 2013 when some soul-searching and a moment of synchronicity while channel surfing that reignited her passion for the mountains and she set a goal; to summit an 8,000m mountain (of which there are only 14 in the world, Everest being the most famous).


And did! In 2018, she summited Manaslu in Nepal which is the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8,163m. And in the process, she became the first South African woman to do so. 

Then last year, in 2019, she attempted to summit Dhaulagiri, the 7th highest mountain in the world. Unfortunately, she was turned around due to bad weather but by reaching camp 3, she became the highest South African on that mountain, male or female. 

Jeannette high in the mountains

In this conversation we discuss:

* her childhood growing up in South Africa and why it was an “exceptional breeding ground” for mountaineering, 

* how studying zoology and geology at University led to a successful career as a mining executive,

* whether her love of the outdoors and conservation vs her career in the mining sector was a point of tension for her, 

* her experience of being the first (and often, the only) female ‘technical’ employee engaged on various mine sites and the leadership lessons she learnt from that experience,

* how some soul-searching and channel surfing in 2013 changed the trajectory of her life, 

* where the confidence to set such a (seemingly) audacious goal came from,

* the important role that your ‘why’ plays in securing your self-confidence,

*  whether she thinks she was capable of summiting her first 8,000m on her first attempt to summit Manaslu just 2 years after setting her goal, 

* why she describes her expedition to Manaslu as a “client for women’s empowerment”

*the leadership lessons she’s learnt that apply in the boardroom as much as 4km below ground and 7km above ground, and

* her experience with the Imposter Complex and how she positively reframed one of her biggest ‘Imposter moments’.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Notes and resources:

iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify

To find out more about Jeannette or to say hello, you can find her on InstagramFacebook or visit her website at ​www.mcgillsmountains.com​​​.