It can be tough to find time for outside interests when you’re giving your all at work. However, having a career with Orbium encourages employees to gain a lot from pursuing their passions for sport and other activities, while striving for excellence in these chosen pursuits.
One fantastic example is Erwan, a full-time manager at Orbium Geneva and a part-time accomplished wingsuit BASE jumper.
He explains his sport as a cross between parachute jumping and mountaineering. BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth – all the things you can jump from according to the rules of the sport. The wingsuit BASE jumper leaps from lofty terrain such as a mountain, then uses the suit to glide through the air at high speed down to a landing spot that is miles from the jumping-off point.
“Wearing a wingsuit turns you into a sort of flying squirrel and allows you to glide through the air,” says Erwan. “Imagine hiking for days and then flying, all the while enjoying amazing scenery.”
Erwan started skydiving in 2006 and first got into BASE jumping in 2009. Since then, he has completed around 500 skydives and more than 600 BASE jumps. The transition from skydiving to BASE “was the missing link in my mountain experience”, he says.
However Erwan cautions that both activities require a lot of commitment and practice: “These are very demanding sports – you cannot just drop in and try them on the spot.”
“If you want to get into this, you will have years of training ahead,” he adds.
Erwan says his biggest achievement so far was a climb and jump from La Meije, part of the Massif des Ecrins in the French Alps, in 2016.
“It was a two-day hike, with a night at the brand new Refuge de l’Aigle,” he explains. “On the second day, I climbed the Doigt de Dieu (3,973m) and then followed the ridge at 4,000m for a couple of hours to find the exit point, la Dent Zigmundi.
“Once there, I squeezed all my climbing gear into the wingsuit – my ice axe, crampons, ice screws, rope, chock devices, water bottle, extra food, down jacket – and after a weather check and a final rehearsal of the flight plan, I pushed off south into the beautiful scenery and started flying.
“Everything was perfectly aligned and the flight conditions were better than expected. It was an amazing feeling, but I had no time to rest. I entered the next valley and had to keep flying for two more minutes, before opening the parachute and landing safely.
“As I descended, my face broke into a huge smile. When I landed I was supercharged by the journey, and had just enough energy left to reach my car.”
When he got home, Erwan slept for the next 10 days!
So how do the skills he learns while BASE jumping translate to his professional life at Orbium?
“In both, it’s important never to run out of time (altitude), options (airspeed) and ideas,” he says, adding that in sport and at work, “I need to find the right balance between having a rigorous and systematic approach and expecting the unexpected.”