Every person wants to live a life experience. In your case your life experience came where you were young and became the world’s first woman to climb the fourteen 8000 meter mountains. What meant to you climbing those peaks?
The fourteen 8000 meter high mountains were a life project for me, a dream that started when I climbed Mount Everest in 2001. At that time I didn’t know that I would culminate the fourteen mountains and that I would become the first woman to do it. Achieving my life project at a young age made me feel vertigo and I had a lot of doubts like “What is going to be next?” It is true that I felt huge satisfaction, but it also made me feel empty.
What came after the summits? Didn’t you think about quitting that world?
No, I never thought of retiring, because I knew my life had to be linked to mountains, in one way or another. That’s why I created the company Kabi by Edurne Pasaban, a receptive agency that offers people the possibility of discovering the Basque Country and the Pyrenees from a natural and cultural perspective.
In 2015 you took over the family business, the restaurant Abeletxe, and transformed completely the business model. How did you decide the new goal?
It was a combination of instinct and experience. During the past 20 years, Abeletxe went through different stages. One year ago, I realized that it’s important for companies to reinvent themselves and to have new goals. That’s why I decided, together with my family, to transform Abeletxe into an attractive space to hold events.
You graduated in Industrial Engineering, you have an MBA and a Master in Human Resources Management. Unlike other elite athletes, you knew how to combine your passion for sports with higher education. What made you follow this path?
It may be because of what I learned at home. I come from an entrepreneur family: my grandfather opened a company that has gone well thanks to my father and brothers. My parents always allowed me to do what I wanted to do, living the present and looking towards the future. They taught me it could be hard to make money to live only from my passion for the mountains and that I had to plan my future.
You are also an associate professor at IE Business School of Madrid. What do the students learn at your colloquiums?
All these years I´ve been playing the leader role, trying to reach goals, for example, in climbing mountains. I explain the students my experience in setting up and fighting for a goal and the keys to be the leader of high performance teams that will allow us to achieve new challenges.
You also work as a coach for businessmen and as a speaker for big enterprises. Are the values you learnt during your vital experience the ones you transmit to businessmen?
Yes, indeed. Coaching has helped me a lot in my sport career and as an entrepreneur. That’s why I decided to train myself as an executive coach. These recent years I have been working with many national and international companies, explaining the keys that helped me to climb the fourteen peaks and the keys to create high performance teams that will help us to succeed in our projects.
This year you decided to open your own Leadership School. Tell us about it.
During the last years I dedicated myself to give conferences in companies and to work with managers improving their teamwork. The experience of living with others in a natural environment is a good way to achieve this cohesion and to create real high performance teams. That’s why I am developing this Leadership School, where people will be able to put in practice their skills as leaders in a natural environment.
You are the image of several sport-clothing companies. Which values do you think you transmit when you become their image?
The value of the experience in the mountain. When I become a brand image, like in the case of Haglöfs, I don’t only give them my image, but also all my background experience. I help them to create many products: next year they will release a new line designed by me, together with the Haglöfs team.
In 2010 you became ambassador of the Foundation “Mountaineers for the Himalayas”. What did you achieve in this foundation?
All these years at the Himalayas, the locals didn’t just allow me to climb their mountains, they showed me their lifestyle and I could feel the warmth of the people that don’t have much. That’s why we decided to create this foundation. Some mountaineers, concerned and worried about the countries we were visiting, realized that the best way to help local people was starting from the beginning: children’s education. In Nepal or Tibet 75% of the people are illiterate and our goal in the foundation is to give the children the opportunity to access to education.
The Gold Medal in Sport Merit Awards, the Reina Sofía Award to the best sportswoman in 2011, Honorary Ambassador of the Spanish Brand in 2015… During your career you have received numerous awards. Which one has been the most important for you?
All the awards are important and each of them made me happy, but the most important award is the one people give me. When someone asks me for a photo or congratulates me, that’s the best prize.
What is luxury for you?
All what you can’t buy with money, all those unique experiences in life.
What is your relation with the world of luxury?
The closest one is my company Kabi: our trips are exclusive products designed by me and my team. We give people the possibility to live unique experiences which they couldn´t probably get other way.
Which is your favorite spot in the Basque Country?
If I had to choose one, it would be Urbia, at the Natural Park of Aizgorri-Aratz. It’s a place full of peace and tranquility, it transmits me a very special energy.
Would you say you have reached your target or do you continue climbing?
I think the target can never be reached. I will continue climbing because I think it is good to be active and have dreams in life.