Martin Hewitt, a mountaineer, former British disabled ski team racer, businessman and former Captain in the Parachute Regiment narrowly escaped death after being shot in Afghanistan. He went on to co-found the leadership and development business, Fieri Leadership. With support from Deloitte from the start, Martin and his team have led disabled people to new peaks - literally.
I am only alive today because of my team. Being shot in the foot and chest by a 7.62 calibre machine-gun should have killed me. However, the training and skills of my team, including the lance corporal and the medics who were helicoptered out from Camp Bastion, saved my life.
So when I am asked how it feels to climb Mount Everest or walk across the Arctic with Prince Harry for Walking With The Wounded, while that was, of course, thrilling, challenging and amazing, nothing compares to that life-changing moment which left me paralysed in my right arm.
It has inspired the rest of my life. I co-founded Fieri Leadership because I recognised just how transformative the right leading and training can be. The values it instils, the importance of a common aim and how the purpose of the vision drives you onwards even in the most arduous of circumstances.
In turn, the success of Fieri means that my team and I can afford to take the time to help others who are coming to terms with their own disabilities. Our latest challenge is the Adaptive Grand Slam, an attempt to be the first disabled team to reach the North and South Poles and to scale the highest mountain on all seven continents.
Deloitte has been with us from the start. We initially helped to identify talent at graduate level for the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Leadership Academy and we have since supported the identification of leadership qualities as part of the Deloitte Global Leadership Programme.
We specialise in “experiential learning”, putting people into situations that are out of their comfort zones. For example, we have taken groups of leaders to our HQ in Herefordshire to test their resilience, effective communication, leadership and other skills under extreme pressure, by asking them to work in a humanitarian disaster zone co-ordinating relief whilst dealing with a hostile militia and displaced refugees. Throughout, Deloitte has been essential to our growth. Having a client to help us start was critical four years ago and we have also benefited from pro-bono support to scale up with Deloitte helping us push forward to our target markets.
We are now also offering a range of services from development training to motivational speakers as well as providing multi-day assessments to identify new and existing talent for our clients. For example, we offer a two-day recruitment assessment programme similar to the one at Sandhurst, the military training academy. Instead of relying on CVs and interviews, we look at values and cultures. The retention rate for one financial services client went up by 70 per cent. It is all about identifying the right people for the right job.
This success is, in turn, enabling Fieri Leadership to have a greater social impact. Fieri Giving is a key part of our business ethos and is something all of our team members love to do, whether they are disabled veterans or have led teams to success on the edge of what is possible in another walk of life.
We now work with the Rugby Players’ Association helping athletes to transition into different roles after career ending injuries. Right now, we have a team in the Caribbean with Team Rubicon helping to facilitate and co-ordinate relief efforts following the devastation from recent hurricanes. We also work with Blesma, the limbless veterans’ charity, and a host of other amazing causes.
So, values-based leadership is not something we just teach… we live these values too.