PM360 spoke to Lara Fontaine, Vice President of Strategy & Portfolio Solutions, Worldwide Research and Development at Pfizer, about how her love of hiking helps her get away from it all.
PM360: What makes you so passionate about hiking?
Fontaine: Hiking is a great rejuvenator for me. The fresh air, wildlife and scenery help me feel connected to the natural world. Workday emails, deadlines and phone calls recede and feel as if they are a lifetime away. In our hyper-connected world, I find hiking is one of the few ways that I am able to truly disconnect. When I was a child, my family camped and hiked, but as an adult I came back to it.
How has hiking helped you mentally and physically?
Human beings are meant to be outdoors! The physical exercise is great for the body, the natural vistas good for the soul, and the sounds of nature soothing to the psyche. Your shower never feels as great or your bed as cozy after a truly challenging hike! I also feel a sense of peace and purpose. Hiking is great for clearing the clutter out of the mind and allowing creative solutions to flow in for recalcitrant problems.
How has your passion for hiking evolved over the years, if at all?
Like many of us, as the years passed and I progressed through my education and my career, I found it increasingly difficult to make time for hobbies. A number of years went by where I did not hike at all. I grew up in the rural Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where outdoor activities are a way of life. I missed it.
Did anyone inspire you to pursue hiking?
My husband enjoyed hiking when he was growing up, and it became something that we could do together. We’ve taken a number of day and overnight trips in the greater NYC area—there is a great diversity of trails available to us here in the Northeast. For our honeymoon, we hiked for 10 days in New Zealand with a small group. The scenery was breathtaking and it was a wonderful way to see the country and get to know the people.
That’s wonderful, Lara. Are there any other activities you enjoy doing when you’re not hiking?
For physical activity, I enjoy skiing, running and yoga. Even walking the streets of NYC provides great exercise, and the entertainment value cannot be beat! I also enjoy home improvement and interior design. I’ve been through a few renovations and while they are painful and challenging in the moment, the reward of a space tailored to your needs and wishes is worth the pain. At least, that is what I tell myself!
What other interests would you still like to pursue at some point?
I would like to explore taking some classes in creative arts—for example, pottery, painting and jewelry design. I think that could be therapeutic after a tough workweek, and it would be gratifying to exercise the creative muscles on occasion.