Leadership researcher & entrepreneur from Monaco

Not only does Benjamin Tur – an alumnus from the 2008 Arctic expedition – study leaders, but he is one himself. This PhD candidate at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, explores the attributes that make certain leaders charismatic, as well as the enchanting influence they have on followers. Benjamin is also a public speaking coach, children’s education advocate, entrepreneur, author, and lover of a good game of Pétanque.

The Expedition Experience

Benjamin described being faced with culture shock upon arriving in Ottawa for the pre-program. He admits, “Most students were Canadians or Americans, English was their mother tongue and they had an education system and culture that is very much extroverted: very different from a European education.” However within hours Benjamin felt right at home with what he describes as an exceptional group of people from so many different backgrounds, ready to start a journey that would have an immensely positive impact on his life. His most treasured moments on expedition involved getting together with a small group of friends in the ship’s computer room every evening. There they would laugh, discuss and write about the day’s happenings. Benjamin is especially fond of his memory of Geoff informing him that some of his writing was published in an Ottawa newspaper.

Realizing Goals & Ambitions

Benjamin moved to Switzerland from Monaco in 2009, to pursue studies in Business Management. He has since earned Bachelor and Master degrees in the subject, completing an exchange at the University of Sydney during this time.
In 2013, he launched a venture called QuestionMe (Questionme.ch). This media website targets young adults in Switzerland, and produces content that is easily sharable via social media. The QuestionMe team won a start-up competition in 2014. Benjamin has since left his shares to his co-founders, with whom he still frequently meets to play Pétanque (a ball sport).

“SOI was the first time I really met and evolved in an environment filled with people passionate [about] their jobs and who accomplished crazy things. I learned two things, which I think shaped my choices over the last few years: aim high and do what you are passionate about.”

Making A Difference

Mere months after his two-week voyage with Students on Ice, Benjamin organized a film festival at his high school to raise money for children’s education. Students produced short movies to be screened, and tickets were sold. Around 3000 euros were collected and donated to Mission Enfance, an organization that promotes schooling as a step towards peace and development.

Benjamin is currently making a difference through his research. He looks into verbal and nonverbal behaviour that is perceived as charismatic, and the reaction of followers when a charismatic leader breaks a promise. Moreover he investigates whether or not charisma can predict the popularity of a TED talk or social media post. The applications of this analysis includes being able to train people to be a more motivating speaker, thereby inspiring action from their audience. Benjamin already coaches MBA students to deliver persuasive speeches. He plans to expand on this engagement by instructing entrepreneurs to sell their ideas to the public.

Looking Ahead

This SOI alumnus will be hard at work earning his PhD until 2018. After that he will be searching for new opportunities in Switzerland, or his home country or Monaco. He is hoping to soon become a published author. During a visit to Amsterdam, he drafted a fiction novel which will be sent to publishers by the end of next year. It tells the story of Hugo, a genealogist who searches for the heirs of a deceased cattle owner in Australia, and the suspicious events that begin to unfold around him. As for Benjamin, he always seems to be searching for his next endeavour, and we’re looking forward to following his progress as more exciting events unfold around him!

“If you wake up an hour earlier every day and spend this time to work, you can offer yourself a month per year of additional time. Doing so, you then face a very swell question: what should I do with this additional free month? I guess being an SOI alumni, you will have a lot of ideas.”