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Between global leaders


Empowering Our Leaders with ATÖLYE

24 October 2023By Oyku Gursu

By Oyku Gursu

At The Karman Project, our central line of work revolves around coordinating global leaders across the private and public space ecosystems to build common understandings, and increase cooperative efforts for a peaceful and sustainable future for space and Earth. Core to that journey is leadership. 

Indeed, when navigating the future of space, we must take those important moments to come back down to Earth to reflect on the bigger questions - our ‘why’, the impact our decisions have on Earth and beyond, how our colleagues in other nations are navigating their priorities and challenges, and how we can make the most of the resources we’ve been afforded. 

This year, we are taking our Fellows on a leadership journey comprising five key stops: 

  • Leadership #1: Intention Setting 
  • Leadership #2: Ethical Leadership 
  • Leadership #3: Climate Leadership 
  • Leadership #4: Regional Perspectives & Priorities  
  • Leadership #5: Amplifying Impact  

To kick-start this journey, there was no better partner than the masters from strategic design and innovation experts ATÖLYE, who help organisations tackle complex challenges to create lasting impact. Their expertise spans leadership to architecture and sustainability, and they’ve worked with transformative communities across the globe (including BMW Foundation and Dubai Future Foundation, who we’re big fans of at The Karman Project). Not only did ATÖLYE design a truly engaging and thought-provoking workshop for our Fellows, they managed to take each and every one of us on a journey through our own leadership galaxy - quite literally! 

In the hustle of daily life, the pursuit of professional growth often eclipses the exploration of personal passions and motivations. The Intention Setting Workshop aimed to remedy this by providing a platform for Karman Fellows to embark on an introspective journey. Facilitated by Mert Cetinkaya (Director of Academy and Partnerships), Leen Sadder (Global Director of Community) and Yasemin Arin (Learning Designer) from the incredible ATÖLYE team, the workshop urged Karman Fellows to delve deep into their leadership paths. Through a series of engaging exercises and discussions, Karman Fellows were encouraged to peel back the layers and uncover the core drivers of their ambitions. The essence of the Intention Setting Workshop lay in its ability to cultivate a safe space, and Team ATÖLYE ensured great care in creating such a space - which is not always so easy to do in an online environment. 

The question was posed: “if you could take one object to space, what would it be?” When mass and volume are limited, you have to think carefully about your values and the message that you can represent with a physical object. In preparing for this workshop, we were inspired by Israeli Astronaut Eytan Stibbe of the Rakia Mission, who travelled to space with a replica of the World Peace Bell. It seems that our Fellows keep their precious objects close, because within a mere few minutes, our screens were filled with objects - and more importantly, stories. 

Guided by our skilled facilitators, the Karman Fellows then engaged in guided journaling exercises which prompted them to explore their leadership journey, their purposes and their passions. As we know, the heart of every thriving community lies the principle of reciprocity - the balance between giving and receiving - and the workshop recognised the significance of this balance. Through group discussions, the Fellows had the opportunity to think about how their commitment to self and community amplifies the positive change they can effect in their respective roles and communities. 

With their eye for detail and design, Team ATÖLYE then revealed personalised Star Trackers for each of our Fellows - designed as visual representations of the Karman Fellows’ experiences and hopes, to guide them in their Fellowship journeys. With this symbolic mapping of each Fellow’s growth, we could highlight the intersection of their personal passions with the goals that we aim to help them achieve via The Karman Fellowship. 

Any journey starts with an intention, and we’re grateful to the team at ATÖLYE for their guidance in helping our Fellows to identify their “why” in such a powerful and safe environment. Our cohort will continue to navigate the journey ahead with the help of their Star Trackers - which together, form our Karman Fellowship Galaxy - and orientate their passions towards impactful action for our collective future in space.


Cooperation in space is a global endeavour achieved together

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