"My experience over PiP programme" - Anastasia Gkika, successful Pioneer 2019

Capturing my experience in the Pioneers into Practice CLIMATE-KIC programme in a few lines, I have realized that the whole pioneering activity and training has ended up to be a remarkable task, offering me unique and unexpected insights of how to implement system innovation techniques and tools in every single step of my personal and professional decision making process.  

The programme is realized under two parallel sections: the phase that deals with the cooperation and collaboration together with other pioneers, and the placement phase where each pioneer applies for a placement in a host organization through a dedicated platform. The selection was achieved following a matching priority scheme between hosts and pioneers. Activities performed with my group project members, in fact with people that I had never met before in my life, were outstandingly challenging! This pioneering process inspired me to think outside the box, producing innovative thinking together with people sharing common knowledge and aspirations, and fostered creativity and brainstorming. I could only characterize this opportunity as a limitless experiential learning activity that I could never think it would be possible for me to realize, at this stage of my [professional?] life. Team spirit and supportive collaboration were the core values of our team that set the basis for developing shared goals and a common purpose.

My 4-week placement was hosted by the Bicycle Agency of València City Council, a public entity that is in charge of coordinating the necessary measures to increase the use of bicycles in an adequate, comfortable and safe way in Valencia. During the placement period, I had the opportunity to be involved and co-design with Belén Calahorro, the coordinator of the Bike Agency, the stakeholder engagement workshop by implementing the system innovation techniques and tools. Engaged stakeholders and bike-related actors participating in the workshop, had to complete an empathy map based on different characters that all shared cycling as common activity. They then had to provide information on the character's everyday activities, stating the barriers that prevent the character from cycling and suggesting preferable changes that would motivate him/her to start using a bike as a transport means. Collected feedback indicated to the Agency the main obstacles that citizens face against cycling and the needs for more tailored-design road infrastructure. From a professional perspective, having to deliver pioneer goals while working in a host environment for such a short time is a big challenge. You have to be adaptive in the new working environment, be a pioneer by implementing system innovation principles and you need to act in the most efficient way you can! After the completion of the placement, I put a large tick in the checkbox with my career goals that had a deeper meaning than just achieving this task.

Overall, the Pioneers into Practice CLIMATE-KIC programme is an outstanding opportunity that each of us, if we are considering ourselves as pioneers and innovators, should join.

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