Facebook Facebook icon Twitter Twitter icon LinkedIn LinkedIn icon Email

The Interview


Cleaning Everest: How a French entrepreneur scaled an insurmountable problem

29 August 2023 • by Julia Binder in The InterviewPodcast availablePodcast available

French entrepreneur and mountain guide Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy explains to Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation Julia Binder how she made a profitable business model – climbing Mount Everest – more sustainable...

Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet, has become a tragic example of the environmental damage wrought by humans. Over the past 30 years, climbing to the roof of the world has turned into a profitable commercial enterprise with hundreds of mountaineers spending around $100,000 in a bid to achieve the feat. Yet the ever-growing crowds have left their mark, with plastic bottles, torn tents, piles of human excrement, and abandoned oxygen tanks now littering the once pristine mountainside. 

In 2013, Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy, founder of social enterprise Global Nomad who has led over 50 humanitarian projects, climbed Everest to diagnose the extent of the pollution. Following that expedition, she decided to set up the Clean Everest project together with Tibetan mountain guides to remove 10 tons of trash from the mountain and encourage responsible expeditions. This was no easy feat.

The project involved dealing with the governments of Tibet and Nepal, local communities and guides, and foreign tour operators. Chaygneaud-Dupuy, a French woman who has lived in the region for many years but was nonetheless an outsider, succeeded in mobilizing the local community and managing multiple stakeholders to achieve sustainable change.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation Julia Binder, she describes how her training in Tibetan Buddhism gave her a common language in which to engage, and why a strong commercial strategy should be the backbone of any successful sustainable enterprise.


Marion Chaygneaud

Marion Chaygneaud Dupuy

Entrepreneur, Himalayan Guide, & CEO, Global Nomad

Entrepreneur Marion Chaygneaud Dupuy, has lived in the Himalayas for twenty-two years and is the first European woman to have climbed Mount Everest three times. She is the founder of Global Nomad, an NGO and has led over 50 humanitarian projects including “Clean Everest”, with a focus on education, social entrepreneurship, healthcare and environmental services. 


Julia Binder

Julia Binder

Professor of Sustainable innovation and Business Transformation at IMD

Julia Binder’s research focuses on sustainability in organizations, with a focus on sustainable innovation, entrepreneurship, and marketing. Her work explores the processes, strategies and mechanisms that allow entrepreneurs and managers to combine economic, social, and environmental impact in initiating and transforming their businesses.

More to explore

Learn Brain Circuits

Join us for daily exercises focusing on issues from team building to developing an actionable sustainability plan to personal development. Go on - they only take five minutes.
Read more 

Explore Leadership

What makes a great leader? Do you need charisma? How do you inspire your team? Our experts offer actionable insights through first-person narratives, behind-the-scenes interviews and The Help Desk.
Read more

Join Membership

Log in here to join in the conversation with the I by IMD community. Your subscription grants you access to the quarterly magazine plus daily articles, videos, podcasts and learning exercises.
Sign up

Log in or register to enjoy the full experience

Explore first person business intelligence from top minds curated for a global executive audience