News | Jun 02, 2023 | Christyn Binder
Exploring Leadership and Nature: Sarina Stoor’s Remarkable Journey in Patagonia
Arora’s own Sarina Stoor, EIT, a Project Coordinator who works on-site at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) recently embarked on her third expedition with The GREEN Program— this time to Patagonia, Argentina!
As a member of Arora’s on-site construction services team at PHL, Sarina is responsible for supporting Arora’s program and construction management and geospatial technologies (GIS) teams. On a normal workday you can find her performing an array of important duties ranging from reviewing and responding to requests for information from contractors, reviewing and approving submittals, collecting meeting minutes for large projects like the $15.5M Restroom Renovation Program, heading into the field to provide construction oversight, or hosting on-site coordination meetings with construction supervisors and inspectors to ensure her projects remain on-schedule and on-budget.
Sarina first learned about The GREEN Program while getting her BS in Engineering Technology at Drexel University. The GREEN Program is an award-winning, experiential education program that hosts immersive experiences focused on sustainability, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Through their various expeditions, they aim to empower young leaders with the knowledge and skills to address personal, professional, and global challenges.
Sarina’s first expedition was to Iceland, which intrigued her because of the trip’s emphasis on renewable energy technologies. “Iceland [was] magical, we went on glacier and waterfall hikes and explored hot springs. I learned about their hydro power plants fed by rainwater and snowmelt that collects in rivers and streams, and the many other ways they incorporate sustainability into daily life in Iceland.” In the Summer of 2019, she was subsequently invited to participate in a GREEN Program alumni program in beautiful Slovenia and Croatia and agreed without a second thought. On this trip, Sarina learned about bees, explored historic areas, went on hikes, cleaned up a beach, and enjoyed swimming on a catamaran day cruise.
Most recently, Sarina participated in The GREEN Program’s Patagonia, Argentina expedition. Prior to embarking on this adventure, Sarina established several physical and professional development goals to ensure she was prepared for the corporeal and emotional demands of the trip. Initially, she focused on getting 10,000 steps each day and set a consistent schedule of 3-5 workouts per week, and subsequently set a personal goal to reground herself and regain focus so she could gain the confidence to advance her professional career with the experience she would gain pushing herself outside of her comfort zone in Patagonia.
This life-changing adventure brought together a team of leadership coaches, professional mountaineers, and like-minded professionals from diverse backgrounds to explore the connections between nature, business, leadership, and critical decision-making.
Patagonia: An Inspiring Backdrop for Growth
Set in the awe-inspiring landscapes of Patagonia, Argentina, this GREEN Program expedition provided participants with an ideal setting to explore and evaluate the parallels between nature and leadership.
During the expedition, participants collaborated with a team of leadership coaches and professional mountaineers to explore the rugged landscape of Patagonia. They were challenged both physically and mentally, as they climbed mountains and crossed glaciers while also engaging in discussions and workshops on leadership, teamwork, and decision-making.
Learning from Nature
Throughout the expedition, Sarina and her fellow participants engaged in a series of activities designed to draw lessons from the natural environment. Led by experienced mountaineers and leadership coaches, they learned to navigate the challenges of trekking, climbing, and surviving in demanding terrains. The physical challenges they faced helped them develop resilience, teamwork, and adaptability—essential qualities for effective leadership.
For Sarina, the expedition was an opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone and challenge herself in new ways. As an airport project administrator, she is used to working in a controlled environment. However, the weathered terrain of Patagonia forced her to be adaptable and flexible, and to make decisions quickly and confidently.
When asked about the personal development lessons she learned while on the expedition, she emphasized the importance of positive self-talk and encouragement. “You can literally do anything in life as long as you believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who are going to be supportive, encouraging, and help you through the tough times,” Sarina proclaimed.
The parallels between nature and business became apparent as the group discovered the importance of planning, risk management, and strategic decision-making. Patagonia’s dynamic and unpredictable nature demanded quick thinking, flexibility, and the ability to assess and respond to changing circumstances—an invaluable lesson for aspiring leaders.
Collaboration and Teamwork
When asked in what ways her job at Arora prepared her for her trip, Sarina replied “When working on a four-prime project, communication, teamwork, and flexibility are key factors when it comes to coordinating and keeping the job moving forward even when running into unforeseen conditions. These were the main elements of my job that translated over to the expedition.”
Sarina emphasized the significance of collaboration and teamwork during the expedition. Collaborating closely with her peers, she affirmed the power of diverse perspectives and the strength that comes from collective problem-solving. The expedition required individuals to rely on one another, fostering trust and cooperation among the participants. This experience highlighted the importance of building strong relationships within a team, a vital aspect of effective leadership in any professional setting.
Leadership Coaches: Guiding the Path
This experience taught Sarina an important lesson about leadership and teamwork. She realized that in a challenging and uncertain environment, it is essential to work together and support each other to achieve success. She also learned that being a leader does not always mean being the person in charge, but rather it can mean stepping up to support others when they need it most.
When asked how this trip has changed the way she approaches her job at Arora, she said that the trip taught her numerous lessons that translate to her work, including:
- There are six types of leadership styles and many personality types. Build relationships with those you are working with so you can better understand how to lead and communicate most effectively.
- Everyone has different experience levels— utilize the strengths of those with different experiences to continue to learn and move towards your goal.
- Large end goals can seem intimidating when they have certain time limits on them. Break the large goal down into smaller goals to make each milestone manageable.
- Fueling your body fuels your mind! Lack of, or incorrect, nutrition can affect energy levels and cause brain fog. Make sure you are taking the time to fuel yourself properly to perform your best during the task at hand.
- Sometimes we get caught up spinning our wheels and forget to take a minute for ourselves. Taking breaks can keep the mind clear and open to new ideas.
Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Practices
At the heart of The GREEN Program’s philosophy lies a commitment to environmental awareness and sustainable practices. Sarina and her fellow participants actively engaged in activities focused on ecological preservation and responsible tourism. They learned about Patagonia’s delicate ecosystems and the need to protect and conserve them for future generations. This experience instilled a sense of environmental stewardship, inspiring participants to take proactive measures in their personal and professional lives to create a more sustainable world.
A Journey of Personal and Professional Growth
Sarina Stoor’s participation in The GREEN Program’s Patagonia expedition provided her with a transformative experience, blending leadership development with a profound connection to nature. By immersing herself in the breathtaking landscapes of Patagonia, Sarina gained invaluable insights into the qualities of effective leadership and the interconnectedness between nature and business. This remarkable journey not only enhanced her personal growth but also equipped her with the skills and mindset to continue professional growth not only in her career, but in life as well.
When asked what advice she would give other professionals who are interested in this program or something similar, Sarina advised:
“Believe in yourself. You are capable of anything you put your mind to. Yes, this program is physically demanding, but it is worth every moment. Being in nature can teach you so much about yourself, even if it’s not this specific program, get outside and do something uncomfortable.”