Testing the Limits of Resilience -- Willis Celebrates Success at the South Pole

LONDON, Jan. 20, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Willis Group is delighted to celebrate the return of the Willis Resilience Expedition from Antarctica and congratulate nineteen-year-old Parker Liautaud on setting a new world record for the fastest ever unsupported trek to the South Pole.

Setting off on December 6 from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, Parker and his teammate Doug Stoup trekked 565 kilometers in 18 days, 4 hours and 43 minutes to arrive at the geographic South Pole on Christmas Eve. Overcoming gale force winds, temperatures as cold as -50 degrees Celsius, 3 meter high "sastrugi" (frozen waves in the ice) and all the while towing 80 kilogram sleds, Parker and Doug achieved their objective of setting a new South Pole speed record.

But the Willis Resilience Expedition is about much more than just a new world record. The Expedition team was also squarely focused on conducting pioneering scientific observations in the most inhospitable and untouched parts of Antarctica. This involved digging snow pits up to two meters deep at ten separate sites and gathering hundreds of isotope samples during a 1600 kilometer continental traverse. By gathering new and valuable scientific data across a complete coast-to-pole-to-coast transect of the frozen continent, the Expedition will help unlock new secrets about how climatic conditions may be changing.

Additionally, for the first time in the history of Antarctic exploration, throughout December audiences around the world were able to follow Parker every step of the way. Equipped with the latest satellite communications technology, high-definition cameras and live broadcasting equipment, the Willis Resilience team successfully streamed hours of live footage from Antarctica on a daily basis. A complete archive of material, including 16 hours of high definition original TV programming, is available on the expedition website www.willisresilience.com. Highlights include footage of the ski team departing from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf on December 6 and the moment that they arrived at the geographic South Pole just over eighteen days later.

As the frequency and severity of extreme events continues to have a negative impact on communities, governments and businesses around the world, the issue of resilience and proactive risk management has never been more important. The insurance industry – which in its own way showed remarkable resilience to the global financial crisis – is at the heart of managing risk worldwide. With an acute understanding of complex and evolving risks as well as unparalleled access to the markets for those risks, insurance and reinsurance brokers like Willis play an increasingly vital role in the global economy by helping clients maintain resilience in the face of adversity.

On hand to discuss these issues in more detail are representative from Willis Group, including Group CEO Dominic Casserley; Deputy CEO Steve Hearn; or the leader of the Willis Resilience Expedition, 19-year old Parker Liautaud.

Dominic Casserley joined Willis one year ago as CEO following a 29-year career at McKinsey & Company. Dominic has authored two books on financial services, advised business leaders on the former UK Prime Minister's Business Council for Britain and served on the UK's Confederation of British Industry (CBI) CEO Climate Change Taskforce and the Lord Davies review on increasing the number of women on corporate boards. He also worked on the U.S. Presidential Task Force on Market Mechanisms in 1987 (The Brady Commission) during the Administration of Ronald Reagan.

Steve Hearn is the Deputy CEO of Willis Group Holdings and serves as Chairman and CEO of Willis Global and CEO of Willis Limited, the Group's principal UK regulated entity. Late last year, Steve was tapped to become chairman of the London Market Group (LMG). A key focus of the LMG's work is aimed at identifying areas where improvements can be made to maintain and enhance London's position in the international insurance market.

Parker Liautaud is a sophomore at Yale University and the leader of the Willis Resilience Expedition. Named by Time Magazine last December as one of "The 30 People Under 30 Changing the World," Parker has been on three prior expeditions to the North Pole and on December 24, 2013 set the record for the fastest unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. His groundbreaking scientific research and amazing journey was well-chronicled in the international press and covered from start-to-finish by an unprecedented high-definition broadcast – Willis Expedition TV – that spanned 16 one-hour episodes from December 3 to December 23 on the YouTube broadcast platform.

Journalists interested in meeting Dominic, Steve or Parker are requested to please contact:

Joshua A. King, Senior Vice President, Group Marketing and Communications
Direct: (001) 212 915 8268
Mobile: (001) 646 410 6134
Email: Joshua.King@willis.com

About Willis

Willis Group Holdings plc is a leading global risk advisor, insurance and reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis operates today on every continent with more than 17,500 employees in over 400 offices. Willis offers its clients superior expertise, teamwork, innovation and market-leading products and professional services in risk management and transfer. Our experts rank among the world's leading authorities on analytics, modelling and mitigation strategies at the intersection of global commerce and extreme events. Find more information at our website, www.willis.com, our leadership journal, Resilience, or our up-to-the-minute blog on breaking news, WillisWire. Across geographies, industries and specialisms, Willis provides its local and multinational clients with resilience for a risky world.

CONTACT: Media: Joshua A. King, Direct: (001) 212 915 8268 Mobile: (001) 646 410 6134 Email: Joshua.King@willis.com Investors: Peter Poillon +1 212 915 8084 Email: Peter.Poillon@willis.comSource:Willis Group Holdings