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WHO WE ARE

WHO WE ARE

The Polar Tourism Guides Association is managed by the Board of Directors, with advice and assistance provided by the Advisory Board. Both Boards comprise volunteers who are industry professionals that are passionate about safe, responsible and sustainable guiding in the polar regions.

Each Board member brings to the PTGA a wide range of different experiences, skills and qualifications, and have all been tested under a variety of national and international examining bodies. The members of our Boards all believe in the value of defining the polar guiding profession through robust standards of operation, and that these are best provided by an independent professional organization.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Board of Directors is the voting body of the PTGA. Each member works in the polar guiding industry, and each must abide by the PTGA Conflict of Interest protocol (available for any member to see).

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About PTGA

BECOME A MEMBER

 

COLBY BROKVIST

CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Colby brings a variety of experience to the board, from small business operations and strategic planning, to field work as an Expedition Leader and Program Manager. He is excited about the future of PTGA, what it offers guides, and its potential for development right now.

Colby has led expeditions in the polar regions since 2006, the brunt of that experience executing small-group departures from small yachts in Antarctica and remote camps in Canada and Greenland. He also moonlights aboard traditional expedition cruise ships in the Antarctic.

When not working as an EL in the field, Colby is the EL Manager for Natural Habitat Adventure’s polar bear expeditions in Canada and is a lead instructor and developer of guide training programs for the company.

Formerly, Colby spent six years as the General Manager of Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, where he oversaw daily operations, guide training curriculums, program development, risk management planning, and marketing initiatives.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Senior Polar Guide
  • BS Degree in Geologic and Environmental Sciences, Susquehanna University
  • Wilderness First Responder, NOLS Wilderness Medicine
  • Coxswain Certification, Milpro Zodiac
  • Firearm Safety & Handling, NRA
  • Certified Photo Instructor, National Geographic / Lindblad

Colby has led expeditions in the polar regions since 2006, the brunt of that experience executing small-group departures from small yachts in Antarctica and remote camps in Canada and Greenland. He also moonlights aboard traditional expedition cruise ships in the Antarctic.

When not working as an EL in the field, Colby is the EL Manager for Natural Habitat Adventure’s polar bear expeditions in Canada and is a lead instructor and developer of guide training programs for the company.

Formerly, Colby spent six years as the General Manager of Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, where he oversaw daily operations, guide training curriculums, program development, risk management planning, and marketing initiatives.

HEATHER THORKELSON

VICE-CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
TREASURER, POLAR GUIDE

Heather is a Canadian dual entrepreneur running a business strategy company from her home in Sweden, and a niche polar expedition company in the Arctic.

Prior to starting her first company a decade ago, Heather had lived and worked all over the world doing everything from running an English department in a private school in Mexico with 15 staff to building a robust social media platform from the bottom up for an HIV non-profit in South Africa. She also spent 7 years in ‘corporate’ working for pharmaceutical company in key accounts before following her entrepreneurial heart and ditching the 9-to-5 for good in 2010.

Working as a guide in the polar regions since 2013 on ships ranging from 12 – 200 passengers in size, Heather’s focus has always been on how guides can facilitate a transformative travel experience for their guests. She developed the Passenger Service Manager role for Polar Latitudes from scratch, which then became the industry-leading standard that inspired other companies to follow suit. Her passion for unique travel experiences led her to open a boutique polar expedition company in 2015 with her husband and his twin brother – both polar expedition leaders – aptly titled Twin Tracks Expeditions.

Heather is passionate about the concept of 360° guiding, meaning an equal focus on the development of the soft skills required for excellence in professional experience delivery, on top of the traditional technical guiding skills required. She is excited about what the future holds for the PTGA as an organization by the guides, for the guides.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Polar Guide
  • STCW 95 Basic Training
  • Standard/Emergency First Aid – Level C – CPR/AED
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
  • Firearms License
  • PADI
  • Sea Kayak Certification
  • Co-active Coaching certification, CTI

GRAHAM CHARLES

PRESIDENT
SENIOR POLAR GUIDE, SENIOR ASSESSOR

Graham is uniquely qualified for this role and merger of polar guiding and performance-based vocational assessment. He has been assessing outdoor skills and teaching people how-to-teach for over 35 years and believes fully in the value of engaged testing.

Graham has been working/playing/expeditioning in the polar regions for over 20 years. He was part of New Zealand’s professional outdoor training and assessment scheme from its first day of inception in 1987 and has seen first hand the value of a structured testing, feedback and communications system that allows candidates to be fully accountable in the process of testing their own competence and judgment against a relevant industry syllabus.

He has a worked in training and assessment programs around the world as a developer, assessor and licensed trainer. Currently he runs the day to day operations of the PTGA, works free-lance as an Expedition Leader in the polar regions, and with the Leadership School at Wharton Business School developing their expedition model of leadership training.

QUALIFICATIONS

Polar Tourism Guides Association

    • Senior Assessor and Senior Polar Guide

New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association

        • Kayaking Stage II Instructor and Assessor
        • Rock climbing Stage II Instructor
        • Mountaineering Stage II Instructor

Skills Active New Zealand

        • Work Place Assessor

New Zealand Ski Patrol Association

        • Ski Patrol Ski Test

Emergency Care – Pre Hospital Emergency Care revalidated per requirements since 1987

Whitewater New Zealand

        • Stage II Instructor and Assessor
        • River Rescue Instructor

New Zealand Avalanche Institute

        • Stage II Safety Management
        • OSH Hand Charging and Explosives Certificate

Experienced Based Training and Development Awards

        • DisC Personality Profile Accredited Trainer
        • New Zealand Association for Psychological Type – Qualifying program (Myers Briggs Personality Indicator)
        • Situational Leadership II Accredited Trainer
        • Building High Performing Teams Accredited
        • Raving Fans Customer Service
        • Project Adventure Safety Skills and Standards Workshop

Search and Rescue

      • Mt Cook Rescue Team Training 1994
      • Team Leader Ruapehu Alpine Rescue Organisation 1992 -1997
      • Search Co-ordinator RARO 1995-97
      • Joint Antarctic Search And Rescue Team member Scott Base

BRANDON HARVEY

SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Over the past 20 years, Brandon has demonstrated his proficiency in developing the impeccable safety-standards, exceptional guest experiences, superior leadership training programs and engaging educational programming that are the cornerstones of his career.

Brandon began his career as a marine naturalist and captain of wildlife viewing tours in western Canada and has since spent the majority of his career exploring the remote polar regions. Brandon has participated on countless expeditions to the Southern Ocean, including the wildlife-rich and exceptionally scenic Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Brandon has also explored vast areas of the Arctic with expeditions to Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula and Wrangel Island, Canadian High Arctic (including multiple Northwest Passage transits), East and West Greenland, Northern Norway and Svalbard. Staying true to his roots Brandon has multiple seasons exploring the wild coasts of British Columbia and southeast Alaska, with a focus on the Great Bear Rainforest and the Salish Sea.

The past decade has found Brandon directing operations for tourism operators, most recently as Operations Manager for award‐winning ecotourism company Maple Leaf Adventures, Director of Expedition Operations for Polar Latitudes and is currently Director of Expedition Operations & Program Development for EYOS Expeditions. Brandon also sits on the Board of Directors for the Polar Citizen Science Collective, as well as a company representative on several committees of IAATO/AECO. Brandon’s career has only served his passion for photography and videography, with multiple credits to his name. In addition, Brandon’s field expertise as a marine ecologist and environmental scientist is supported by a Master of Science in Environmental Practice.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Senior Polar Guide
    • Wilderness First Aid (50hr)
    • WCB Occupational First Aid Level 3
    • STCW Basic Safety Training – Security Awareness, Crowd Management, Marine First Aid
      • Transport Canada
      • Master Limited Captain 60 tonne (Passenger)
      • Small Vessel Machinery Operator (Restricted Engineer)
      • Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP)
      • Marine Medical
      • Other
      • Digital Radio Operators Cert. (ROC MC)
      • PADI Advanced Diver
      • Marine Emergency Duties Level A1/A2
      • SKGABC Assistant Overnight Sea Kayak Guide
      • Commercial Bear Viewing Guide – Assistant Guide
      • Canadian PAL Firearms Licence

DR ALEX COWAN

SECRETARY
SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Alex has a PhD in earth sciences from the University of Cambridge. He has worked in polar tourism in the Arctic and Antarctic as an Expedition Leader and guide since 2011 for a variety of companies on a range of vessel sizes from 12 to 134 passengers. Prior to this career he worked as a professional yacht-master delivering vessels and training people to the RYA ‘Yachtmaster Offshore’ level. In 2014 he took part in the South Georgia Guideline Review of extended walks, acting as the IAATO representative. This gave him good insight into the GSGSSI view of tourism and need for industry standards for operating in this environment.

In 2018 he co-founded the Polar Citizen Science Collective, an organisation devoted to coordinating use of polar tour vessels for data collection and scientific research.

He is enthusiastic about training and skill development and this opportunity to merge his experience as a trainer and as a polar guide with what the PTGA has to offer. Alex is a passionate climber and skier and when not on ships can usually be found with skis or sticky rubber on his feet, and is currently working through the UK Mountain Training scheme.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Senior Polar Guide
  • PhD Earth Sciences
  • RYA Instructor

MARCUS WATERS

Marcus brings a valuable mix of business and strategy skills to the PTGA Board combined with a full understanding of the PTGA Assessment model. He has current involvement in the polar industry as the General Manager Commercial and Partnerships with the Antarctic Heritage Trust based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Marcus’ early career was in outdoor education. With a passionate interest in human development this morphed into Management Training which lead to an MBA. Since then Marcus has spent the last twenty years in the Human Resource and Organisation Development industry. He has been an executive leader for large NZ businesses responsible for formulating business and HR strategy and operated in the safety sensitive Civil Construction and Electrical industries. He brings critical Board procedural experience and also currently sits on the Human Resources NZ Board (a 3000 person membership organisation that is the professional body for Human Resource practitioners in NZ) and is a Member of NZ’s Institute of Directors.

In 2019 Marcus changed course and took over his current role with the Antarctic Heritage Trust to create focused strategy and help grow and develop income streams. He was an Assessor with the NZ Outdoor Instructors Association for twenty years and held Level II Alpine, Rock and Bush awards. He has sea kayaked the length of the Antarctic Peninsula, circumnavigated Sth Georgia by sea kayak (see the display in Grytviken museum) and dragged a sled across Greenland. Marcus has love of wild and polar places and is keen to help businesses that operate in this space and could see the value of the governance skills he could offer the PTGA at this stage of development. Marcus is a keen skier and tramper and with his family gets out at every possible opportunity in the Canterbury mountains and back country.

DR KIM CROSBIE

Kim has been working in the polar regions since 1991. Firstly, through the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge researching visitor management in the Canadian Arctic before changing focus to Antarctica. She spent three summers camping on Cuverville Is on the Antarctic Peninsula undertaking ecological monitoring and management of the landing site gathering baseline data for her PhD which, subsequently, was also used in the development of Site Guidelines for visitor landing sites in the Arctic, Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.

Dovetailing with her research, Kim worked as a guide and expedition leader in both polar regions for fifteen years for both tourist and film operations. She then moved “ashore” to spend 12 years with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, as environmental director and subsequently executive director, working on the strategic development of Antarctic tourism management to support safe and environmentally responsible tourism.

Kim now Chairs the Boards of Noble Caledonia and Salén Ship Management and is a Trustee for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and the Noble Caledonia Charitable Trust. She remains passionate about both the polar regions and in ensuring field guides are well equipped to fulfil their critical role in managing responsible visitor activities and ensuring first class experiences so that travellers to these regions return home as vocal supporters of these unique environments.

ADVISORY BOARD

Our Advisory Board is a group of polar veterans with a vast amount of experience, all of whom believe in the value of professional standards of operation and conduct. They represent the broad scope of polar tourism from north to south, ships and land, practical to cerebral and community and commerce. Their job is to advise and assist. They do not have voting rights on our Board.

PAMELA LE NOURY

SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Pam Le Noury

Pam is a marine scientist, PADI dive instructor, zodiac skipper and sailor, and has worked in and on the ocean just about every day for the past 20 years. Hailing from South Africa she worked in the expansive dive industry while gaining a BSc in zoology and physiology. She progressed to managing the dive school before starting up her own whale watching charter and boat business.

Pam has participated in several marine research cruises, has published three smartphone apps on sharks & rays, whales & dolphins, and Antarctic Wildlife and her passion for teaching people about the oceans and conservation is legendary in the industry. Pam started expedition cruising in 2008 and has been almost everywhere a small cruise ship can take you. She is now Head of Expedition Operations at Noble Caledonia and represents them at AECO & IAATO where she participates in several committees and working groups, and she leads Noble Caledonia’s sustainability initiatives. She is excited about the direction the PTGA is taking and believes new people in the industry need to have a basic standard of competency and something clear to aim for.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • BSc in zoology
  • Sustainability Management Certificate
  • PTGA Senior Guide
  • Skipper: powerboats and sailing
  • Scuba Instructor, commercial (research) diver, deep tech and rebreather diver
  • First Aid Instructor
  • Co-Author of Antarctic Wildlife App, Dolphins and Whales Sightings Guide App, Sharks and Rays App
  • Full STCW, rifle handling cert, wilderness first aid cert, etc.

PAT LURCOCK

POLAR GUIDE

Rupert Krapp

Pat Lurcock is well known to anyone who has worked in the south and been to Sth Georgia and after 25 years working for the South Georgia government, he has a real grasp of the issues that arise when operating in, and managing activities within, remote wilderness areas and is keen to observe and advise the PTGA in its infancy.

After graduating with a degree in electrical and electronic engineering, Pat joined the British Antarctic Survey as a geophysics technician and spent a double winter at Halley base studying the earth’s magnetic field and learning about computers. He then joined the Falkland Islands Government after a short stint programming in the UK, and lived in Stanley for three years, providing IT support for all departments with the fishery administration. This led to a four-month tour on South Georgia doing basic harbour administration, which eventually extended to 25 years, during which he played a part in developing the fishery administration, tourism administration, biosecurity procedures. He also developed a keen interest in all aspects of South Georgia – biology, geology, history, environmental management and industry.

Pat enjoys Nordic ski touring, with multi-week tours in the USA, New Zealand and longer expeditions as a leader with BSES Expeditions in Chile, the Falklands, South Georgia and Svalbard. He also took part in the first end-to-end traverse of South Georgia in 1999.

QUALIFICATIONS

Qualifications:
* PTGA Polar Guide
* STCW
* RYA Power Boat 2

Experience:
* Learned mountain craft with Royal Marine Mountain Leaders on South Georgia.
* Learned small boat work with Royal Marine Boat Operators and British Antarctic Survey Boating Officers on South Georgia over 25 years.
* Participated in the first island-long traverse of South Georgia in 1999, including a winter yacht passage from Ushuaia.
* Leader on 3-month youth expedition to Chile, Falklands South Georgia 2003/4
* Leader on ten-week youth expedition to Svalbard 2009
* Six months rodent monitoring field work in South Georgia 2017/18

DR RUPERT KRAPP

SENIOR POLAR GUIDE

Rupert Krapp

Rupert works as wildilfe biologist and research engineer at the Norwegian Polar Institute. His passion for the Polar Regions started during his undergraduate studies in marine biology and polar ecology, and he has been living and working in the High Arctic for about 20 years by now. During his graduate studies in sea ice ecology, he has been participating in several scientific expeditions to ice-covered waters in the Weddell Sea in the South, and the Barents Sea in the North, and holds certifications as a research diver and research dive supervisor, with a speciality in polar and under-ice operations.

He developed a strong interest in public outreach and science communication early on in his professional development, working as national park ranger, dive guide and scuba instructor. He continued to pursue this interest parallel to his studies, and started working on expedition cruise vessels in 2000, exploring both Polar Regions above and below the surface for 12 years with clients from all over the world. Rupert is now living in Longyearbyen year-round with his family and dog, working on a range of environmental monitoring programs directed at key predator species, including polar bears, walrus, seals and whales. In his free time, he is a volunteer with the local Red Cross auxiliary corps, providing support in search-and-rescue, avalanche rescue, and emergency first aid scenarios.

QUALIFICATIONS

DR PHIL WICKENS

SENIOR POLAR GUIDE, PROVISIONAL ASSESSOR

Phil has been guiding in Antarctica and the Arctic since 1997. He studied biology at Imperial College in London, England, and after completing his PhD in plant pathology, he worked for two winters and three summers as a field guide for the British Antarctic Survey, combining his passion for natural science with that of mountain exploration and photography.

As a dedicated climber and ski mountaineer, he has led numerous climbing and skiing expeditions since 1992 to the Pamir, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Peru, East Greenland, the Caucasus, Canada and Antarctica, and is a past Vice President of the Alpine Club. He has been kayaking since he was a young teenager and has led numerous day- and multi-day sea-kayaking trips in Antarctica.

Phil has led numerous highly successful private mountaineering and ski mountaineering expeditions to Antarctica, having made the first ascents of over 40 unclimbed Antarctic mountains. He also has intimate knowledge of the mountains of west Greenland and NW Svalbard, having guided numerous ski mountaineering groups in both areas for almost 10 years.

A professional ski instructor for 10 years, including race coaching, and former England & Wales Universities slalom champion, Phil’s true love is away from the pistes and crowds. He started ski mountaineering aged 18, and is passionate about coaching and developing back-country skills and leadership with ski mountaineers. He is the UK representative on the Mountaineering Commission of the International Union of Alpine Associations (UIAA).

Phil had been with the PTGA on its Board of Directors since its inception and has taken a step sideways to continue to advise as necessary.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Biology (Senior Polar Guide)
  • PhD Plant Pathology
  • NRA Firearm Safety & Handling
  • UK Firearms License
  • RYA International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft
  • Rescue & Emergency Care certified
  • STCW 95 Basic Training
  • PADI
  • Former Alpine Club Vice President
  • ASSI Ski Intructor (lapsed)
  • BCU Level 3 (lapsed)

CAROLYN WISEMAN

Carolyn Wiseman

Carolyn is a seasoned HR professional with extensive experience in training, assessments, work health and safety and corporate governance. Born and bred on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, her love of the ocean led to a decade-long stint at Surf Life Saving where she contributed to the development of a framework for training and assessing volunteer lifesavers. Being responsible for the development of a training program designed to assist surf clubs in managing their work health and safety needs led her to providing specialist advice in this area to various Associations and Boards.

Now the Expedition Team Senior Manager at Aurora Expeditions, Carolyn recently returned from Antarctica where she saw first-hand the skills and professionalism of the polar guiding community. An avid supporter of training and professional standards, Carolyn looks forward to sharing her expertise and experience with the PTGA.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, post graduate qualifications in Management and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Foundation Course. When she’s not working, you’ll find Carolyn participating in the surf club community at her local beach.

QUALIFICATIONS
  • Graduate Certificate in Management (Professional Practice)
  • Bachelor Degree in Business (major HR)
  • Advanced Diploma in Human Resources
  • Diploma in Human Resources
  • Certificate IV Human Resources
  • Human Resources: AHRI Membership – Professional Member MAHRI
  • Australian Institute of Company Directors – Foundation Course
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Applied First Aid
  • Finance for Non-Finance Managers