Meet Founder Astronaut: Elisa Mallas
SXC May 2014 Mission Report
Tell us a bit about your background.
Growing up between countries, from early childhood I had a strong desire to explore the world and to support the positive evolution of humanity. My journey so far has taken me to work and live in 16 difference countries, including China, where I have been based for the last 7 years with my husband and our two amazing boys. Throughout my career my focus has always been on supporting people to transform toward their full potential. In China I am know as a top authority on Executive Coaching and Developing a Global Mindset, often invited as a speaker at large human capital conferences and business events. I have coached and consulted to numerous managers and senior leaders across the United States, Europe and Asia over the last 14 years, and am currently the Head of Executive Coaching at MDS, a leadership development and executive coaching company with offices in several major cities in Asia – www.mdsbeijing.com From 2011 to 2013, I also served as the European Chamber of Commerce in China’s HR Forum Chair, successfully launching several large events which brought a more holistic and strategic undestanding of people development to the multi-national busienss community in China.
Prior to MDS, I spent 10 years at Accenture, working as a Management Consultant in the areas of human capital strategy, talent management, coaching and leadership effectiveness. As an executive within Accenture, I developed the Human Capital Strategy for nine countries in the Asia Pacific region, including China. Before joining Accenture, I worked as a therapist for several years, supporting and developing programs for community mental health centers in the New York City Bronx. I have earned a Masters in Organizational Psychology and a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology both from Columbia University in New York. I have authored, co-authored and contributed to a number of academic and news articles on the topics of global mindset and leadership development.
What was your motivation for signing up to be a Founder Astronaut with SXC?
Growing up between two countries (spending 6 months in one and 6 months in the other throughout my childhood) my experience was one of not completely belonging/fitting in at the one ‘home town’ or the other. As I searched far and wide for my own true identity, I realised that the most important part of it was in being human . . . A Human Being. During my search I explored many cultures, religions and spiritual traditions. What I continuously noticed was that although there are so many differences, the similarities are astounding and in many ways more important. My role as Chair of the Selection Committee for the International Spirit at Work Awards from 2005 to 2009 helped me further expand my thinking and appreciate the many ways to nurture the human spirit in the workplace across all cultures and religions. Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who played an important role in the Spirit at Work movement, inspired me to begin adopting a perspective of earth as if looking at it from space. That ‘one world’ perspective has formed the foundation and framework for the Global Mindset Workshops that I have delivered to hundreds of managers and leaders at multi-national companies in China.
My quest to even further develop my own global mindset has led me on the journey to space. I believe that if we want to secure the well-being of the earth and our species we must radically shift our perspective to see the world a whole, rather than a collection of separate entities. Progress relies on unity. My purpose for going to space is to accelerate the mindset shift that will push humanity forward by making the earth from space perspective accessible to everyone.
Does signing up to be a Founder astronaut have anything to do with you being passionate for developing people and their global mindset?
Absolutely, over the last two years I have delivered a number of Global Mindset workshops to managers and leader working for multi-national companies in Asia. Even after a short workshop I’ve seen the tremendous impact that taking a world from space perspective can have on a leaders way of thining, their way of relating to colleagues and their way of looking at their own business problems. I believe that as more leaders take a truly global perspective we will finally be ‘solving for the world’ and we will have a real opportunity to tackle some of the biggest challenges that threaten our planet and our existence. As a founder austronaut I am really make a statement about and demonstrating a strong commitment to the earth from space perspective that I believe is so important.
What are your expectations of SXC as a company?
My expectations are two fold. SXC is now playing a very important role in preparing the first commercial astronauts who will make the journey to space, including myself. That preparation includes physical and mental aspects related to safety, fitness and stamina.
SXC will also play an increasingly bigger role in raising global understanding of the importance of commercial space travel and the possibilities it opens up for research to safeguard the future and welfare of our planet.
Which questions are often asked when you tell people about you becoming an astronaut?
Of course the first question people ask is – Why?
That is usually followed by a great deal of curiosity related to the Lynx (the spacecraft itself) and how and when the flight to space will take place.
People often ask me if I am concerned for my safety and how much and what type of physical and mental preparation is required to take on this type of astronaut role.
Which part of the flight will be most challenging you think?
I think the re-entry to earth will be the most challenging because of the amount of physical pressure that we will experience on our body, which is something most of us have never experienced before. As I woman I am encouraged by the fact that child birth is also something I had never experienced before (at least the first time I went through it), and something quite challenging physically, and I got through that just fine.
Which part of the space flight you think would be the most exciting one?
Of course the moment of being 100 km above the earth and looking at our earth from that new and transformational vantage point.