Enabling Circular Leadership through co-creation between industry and education

Marina Velikova
Founder & CEO of Creazzia | AI expert | Educator
Automatic Summary

Understanding Circular Leadership: A Personal Journey

Hello everyone, today's topic is somewhat unconventional as it is led by my personal journey into a unique domain - circular leadership. My journey began with an exceptional decision, choosing a Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence in the late 90s. At that time, it was an unexplored field with little to no support and limited job prospects.

However, now, more than 20 years later, AI is booming and transforming lives remarkably. The critical question today is how do we sustain our growth and achieve our purpose amidst these constant technological changes and advancements?

The Challenge with Conventional Growth Programs

The issue lies with the traditional growth programs. In my observation, they are often isolated, fixed, and underutilized, not satisfactorily answering the challenge of sustainable growth. Frustrated with these limitations, I made another untraditional choice - setting up an educational startup focused on circular leadership.

So, how does one justify the concept of circular leadership?

Exploring Circular Leadership: An Innovative Pilot

To give the best understanding of circular leadership, I narrate the story of a pilot we conducted last year with a school, a learning platform, and a research center. The study revolved around three major aspects of circular leadership:

1. Connecting People

The first key aspect is the connection of people across different ages, cultures, and domains. Such a diverse connection broadens perspectives, networks, and co-creation opportunities. Individuals learn from each other, feedback is shared, and problem-solving becomes a joint venture.

2. Utilizing Real-Life Projects

The second aspect involves leveraging existing real-life projects, resources, and spaces for learning and growth. Our pioneering project allowed high school students to join an ongoing four-year research project. We also intelligently utilized both digital and physical spaces to facilitate learning and social connection.

3. Empowering Leaders

The third and final aspect focuses on the empowerment of leaders. It involves learning and applying soft skills in real-world work environments. Building skills and confidence is an essential part of this process, accompanied by the continuous feedback and adjustment. "I have been thrown into a whole new world of working with a professional standard," expressed one of the students.

Scaling up Circular Leadership

Post the pilot, the question that arises is how do we scale up circular leadership and education? A few steps I propose include getting actionable tips, sharing personal experiences, and joining hands in co-creating a community of self-driven global drivers. Our proposed roadmap aims to facilitate self-driven growth, offer worldwide network opportunities, and create materials, events, and stories that enable a hyper-inclusive world.

If any part of this narrative resonates with you and sparks interest, feel free to connect with me via LinkedIn or email. Let’s join hands to re-transform not just the education system, but also professional growth for thriving in today's dynamic world. Thank you for your attention!

Video Transcription

Good day, everybody. I see that people are joining and the time is already up. So for the ones who are already in, um Thank you for coming. My name is Marina Veliko.And um I would like to take you on a short journey about circular leadership and I'll explain in a minute, what does that mean? But maybe just to kick it off, let me give you some hypothetical scenario. Suppose that there is a new fascinating study. You might be very interested, but you'll be the only student in away from family and friends and no follow up job perspectives. Would you follow this study and join it or not? And maybe to make it simple, you can put just do in the chat or if you will not do it, simply don't reply or maybe just to see notes. OK? I don't know someone else. OK? May maybe because the rest are not as I said. So assuming that nobody will follow it. Well, there is one person and that is namely me who did that between 1999 and 2001. I was the only student who chose for master in artificial intelligence in Bulgaria at Sophia University, following completely a self study with the books provided at that time. And now for all the years, I followed a career as a computer scientist in university and high tech.

More than 20 years further. Now we see that artificial intelligence is enormously booming. And that is fascinating because 20 years ago, I would have never imagined that I was only driven by my own passion and fascination of how can we combine human intelligence and machines.

But what we now see is all this booming technology is leading and changing our lives. So this is a recent article from Financial Times showing how A I would impact not just our jobs, but probably the most human profession in that is education and personal growth. And then what rises basically is not anymore. What's our next job? But I think the critical question is how do we basically drive and grow with all the changes which are coming of new generation, which is on hunt for purpose, total globalization and technology. And the key question and the challenge as I see it, which now remains is how do we basically sustain our growth? Go for our purpose? Enable well being not tomorrow, not in the future, but today. And one of the things which I see and I've seen throughout my professional life and up to today today is that the conventional growth programs, education and even leadership uh for in the in the professions are not more satisfying and answering the challenge of sustainable growth, they are often isolated, fixed in personal underutilized.

And therefore I stepped out and I made another unconventional choice, leaving the corporate world and setting up the educational start up creat among others with a mission to enable circular leadership. And what I mean by the circular leadership, the best way to explain it is to provide you and take you on a journey of a pilot. We did last year with three organizations we asked and we got uh being joined by a high school in Eindhoven Ecker College where I eight high school students and a teacher joined us together with creat the learning platform where I as a professional coordinator uh did the pilot and a research center, Ein Coven Engine where very innovative research projects are taking place.

There was a phd student on existing project which joined us as a mentor and facilitator providing the facilities. This is already as you see, it's even the metaphor of a flower to grow and grow um as a really together as the leaders, what we did three main aspects underlying circular leadership. The first one as we see it is connect people across ages, cultures and domains. So here you see a photo of us as participants, why grow and core the inclusion across the ages across the domains and across the cultures. We broaden our perspectives and network, especially for youth. They can already tap into the future by connecting with professionals. And the third, but not least important is we seek solutions together. We get and give feedback to each other. We're co creators together where agency and resourcefulness has been the main um drive and we did that by brainstorming discussing results contacting with other professionals exactly as real life is and not into the lot sometimes conditions of a school. So connecting people is the first key um of circular leadership. The second one is utilizing existing real life projects, resources and spaces. We often see an education that things are made for students or made for professionals, especially sometimes isolated.

What we did is we turned this concept and we actually allowed the high school students to join an existing running four year research project. And with that become part of the bigger team which was already there. The project was about finding solutions for optimal of office vitality, something which is really playing a major role also in the future of uh this youth and how we utilize further resources and spaces. On the one hand, we use the my creative platform through um the start up I have where we share resources, learning results, provide feedback. Exactly as we do our work nowadays, on the other hand, we also facilitated the social connection through the physical places and how we did that. Of course, the school remained as one of the learning places but the students every Monday for 2.5 hours were coming to the research center and co an engine and used one of their modern rooms which is specially dedicated to brainstorming modern facilities in in order to secure their creativity and co-operation.

And the students were extremely happy. We also allow them to go to a modern uh working environment where not more standard chairs and tables were present as you see on the picture, but really um uh ways how you can work while we are even moving. And this we did weekly within five months enabling a flex working environment for all of us as real life is not just creating special thing only for the students within the school. So utilizing existing project resources and spaces as well as the circularity is taken even further.

And the third and of course, eventually, the part why we do all this is is empowering, empowering leaders in being who we are, but also contributing from the space of who we are. And for the youth, that means that they're meeting the future today by learning and applying motor skills in a real world. Our work environment, we spoke about beliefs, values, communication styles using methods as skis which come usually much later in our professional life.

The result as one of the testimonials of one of the students is I have been thrown into a whole new world of working with a professional standard. Imagine what six years of project work at school, like this pilot could do with young people. So definitely appreciate it. But empowering leaders is not just about the youths, it's about creating the connection and the real in return on investment of what we did came by surprise to me this year when in March, I got from one of the students, a whatsapp message telling me that he wants to start a company and he really liked working with my creator the platform.

And he asked me for help on how to do the start up, how to set up a domain name. And further uh we took it from there to help each other. So it worked already to connect and to, to be for each other. And of course, the leaders are not just the students but also the professionals, us who are part of the whole pilot. And that is about building skills and confidence in inspiring but also growing together, we were getting constantly feedback from the students, we had to adjust things, we had to discuss things together. So it was really co creation and co growth. And of course, it is also about how we set up our growth programs, we have to go and do the things as real life is and contribute today to business and society, not over years, not in the future. So the question is after this pilot, how do we scale up circular leadership and education? And here are a few steps. Which I would like to propose. And I'll be really glad to discuss and take this further after this conference so that we can really and deeply impact uh with Telco leadership. So one of the things is get our actionable tips via the link um which is provided here.

Um They're really simple uh in a number of slides. The second is that is more on the personal note, if participants are maybe even parents or no um other Children who might have dyslexia or any uh neurodivergent condition where it was a personal story. Again with my daughter with dyslexia, when her sort of disability of language was turned into the power of helping an Ukrainian uh uh woman uh learning, learning a Dutch language. So this is exactly a very nice case study additional uh on the personal side. And the third one is I'd love to invite you to join us in co creating and really scaling by having a community led platform for purposeful and self driven global drivers. So what we're now starting to uh build up and we hope in the coming months to uh place it on the updated website of creat is a roadmap for self driven growth in a global world. What does that mean? We don't and we cannot anymore imagine to do and be trained and only managed also later in our professional life, we have to take growth in our own hands and follow our own drives but of course for that, we need support. And our road map, we want to provide that of course, network opportunities worldwide, not just locally.

And the third very important aspect in this growth is how can we create materials, activities, events and stories which enable hyper inclusive world, which goes even beyond this community led platform if you're interested and anything which has been shared here is really giving you um some connections to what you want to achieve and to do or maybe simply want to talk and discuss, please uh contact me also being linkedin.

Uh I would love to hear your story and um to see you from here, where can we re transform, not just education, starting from schools, but also professional go leadership role. And anything in order to thrive uh in today's dynamic world. And with that, I would love to thank you for your attention. And um I'm open for questions if the time allows, I think I see some minutes. So please um raise hands or, or maybe put questions in the chat. Is there any questions or maybe return to some of the points which were mentioned? Yeah, you see that there's still five minutes. So yeah, or maybe comments are also there. If if on your side there are also stories or something similar, I'll be really glad to hear that some people seem to join now, which is a little bit again. But um yes, uh sure. Um So here is the email and of course we are linked in, please feel free to join. Also, maybe it's easier if I make it up from here. Ok, here is a question, a nice presentation. I arrived later. Um This, what are the self driven global drivers? Uh Very nice question. And I think this is also the one which um thank you for the question. I think it's important to know.

It's any person to me is in the road who wants to take their growth in their hands and to really thrive in a very inclusive society. It's not about one country, it's not about one company. And that means that we have to become software, social, aware, culturally competent and especially arrange our own support no matter where we are in the road. And for that, we want to set up the platform and community together, not we for someone else, but basically we for ourselves.

And of course, of course, help someone other people. So this concept of self driven global drivers touch exactly about also circular leadership. Uh If you want to know more, let's connect and lovely love to hear also your story and discuss further. I hope Maria that this answers your question. Thank you. There was maybe more on the touch. Yeah. So please feel free to connect me um later. And I can once again even give you more insights of the presentation if you missed the beginning, any other questions. Yeah. Well, if um maybe nothing pops up in your mind, once again, I'm uh really curious um to meet and talk to the ones who are present and interested and maybe even what and why uh you joined uh this um um this presentation and especially of how and where we can maybe uh join forces.

Um Yeah, in order to enable each other's growth and also help others thrive with us. Um So, with this, um thank you so much. Um I'm looking forward to meeting you in um other events or maybe via linkedin or um uh via emails. Thank you and enjoy the event uh further.