A new pioneering spirit in corporate learning 2015/10/01 - 6th Leonardo Award handed over to young visionaries in learning

The 6th Leonardo - European Corporate Learning Award was all about a new pioneering spirit. For the first time, particularly young pioneers (all award-winners are in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties) were awarded the European award for education in the field of corporate learning on September 14 at the Kameha Grand Bonn: Teemu Arina (Dicole Ltd. – Finland), Claudia Suhov (KIDster – Romania), Christoph Brosius (Die Hobrechts – Germany) and Dr. Thieu Besselink (The Learning Lab – Netherlands) received their awards at a gala evening event.

“Now in its 70th year of existence, the plenary assembly of the UN is currently deciding upon its post-2015 sustainability goals, of which socially included vocational education is an important component“, explained Leonardo Secretary Günther M. Szogs. “The fact that we have brought together young “excelling” pioneers of surprising as well as convincing learning cultures with the UNESCO’s and EU’s central drivers and pioneers of future learning for the “Leonardo” 2015 in the “UN host city” of Bonn has convinced and even touched many – irrespective of their age.“

Dr. Shyamal Majumdar

Questioning traditional methods

It is thus that Dr. Shyamal Majumdar, Head of UNESCO UNEVOC, was most pleased about the focus of the award, and declared himself in favour of challenging traditional assumptions about learning. “This is an age where learning has no boundaries“, he explained as one of the patrons of the event. “We have to make one thing perfectly clear: We need a new methods, new models and new ways of developing this learning.” He coaxed some of these new methods out of the award winners together with Professor Leif Edvinsson, the renowned Swedish visionary of “intellectual capital” in an equally humorous as well as impressive way.

Tangible passion

The guests already took the opportunity to intensively discuss the award winners, their visions and projects on the day before the award ceremony in workshops: "I am sure that you will feel the award winners' passion for learning", Alexander R. Petsch, Managing Director of the HRM Research Institute and co-founder of the Leonardo Award, welcomed the workshop participants in the morning, implying that “this passion will carry us through the day and evening“.

Peter Pawlowsky

Inspiring discussions instead of eulogies

“We’ve got four young Leonardos here, who enable us to see their ideas of learning with their own eyes“, said Prof. Michael Spencer, who led through the evening together with Corinna Pregla. “Our young laureates clearly exhibit not only extraordinary concepts in terms of learning, but also a value statement of societal and social innovation”, emphasized Leonardo Ambassador Prof. Dr. Peter Pawlowsky. He explained that as a eulogy is always an interpretation by the laudator, one had agreed to let the award winners speak for themselves: “In this way we can get most of their original ideas!”

Teemu Arina

Teemu Arina: Understanding systems in order to influence them positively

The “Young Leonardo” in the category “Humanity in Digitization” was awarded to bio hacker, technology entrepreneur and corporate consultant Teemu Arina. The Finn quickly realized that the best way of learning is to teach. “I think my whole life has been about looking at things differently: Every day I look for new patterns, challenge new patterns, constantly work in reshaping, reframing, and putting them in a completely new context, so that you can see everything with new eyes.“

That is also what he does as a bio hacker. “Hacking itself is not actually a negative word“, he explained. “In the real sense of word it essentially refers to anyone who was curious to understand the intrinsic work of any kind of system.” As a bio hacker he is in fact interested in the human constitution as a complex system – and how he can influence the system in different ways. “Here the question is: How can I unleash my real potential?” The Leonardo Ambassadors Diego Sanchez de Leon and Markku Markkula, President of the EU Committee of the Regions, were particularly suitable protagonists for his concerns.

Claudia Suhov

Claudia Suhov: Promoting the inner child

The award in the category of “Transgenerational Learning” went to Claudia Suhov from Romania, who among other things promotes better learning for children in Romania with her organization KIDster, and is committed to learning between the generations. “I am the result of informal education”, she explained to the guests of the evening. The Leonardo is the first award that she has ever received. She was an average student and had to work hard.

“But formal school did not reward this”, she went on to describe her own experiences. “Only after I had become an entrepreneur did society begin to award my work for others”. By having helped children to learn about themselves, she had also begun to learn more about herself and to acquire different abilities.

“We are all children and we learn new things every day – even from each other”, she explained to the audience. “It is important to understand that there is an inner child inside all of us, and we have to give it the possibility of evolve”.

Laureate Christoph Brosius with Ambassador Peter Pawlowsky

Christoph Brosius: Failing – and even having fun doing so

The "Young Leonardo" in the category "Humor Energized Learning" was awarded to Christoph Brosius, General Manager of Die Hobrecht, Agency for Game Design and Game Thinking. “You actually do more than to merely develop games. You develop new perspectives for learning”, Peter Pawlowsky emphasized in his discourse with Brosius.

“Playing is solving ridiculous problems, outer world problems, without any real meaning to the rest of the real world – just for the fun of it. In order to solve them you have to learn, you have to adopt, you have to mostly through trial and error find out what works and what does not work", the award winner explained.

In contrast, the fear of failure is also included in work. And that can become a major impediment. “What if people were allowed to fail more brilliantly and being applauded for it, which is exactly the case within a game?” he asked the guests. This was most appropriately accompanied by the “digital discovery” of the art of OUBEY by Prof. Dagmar Woyde Köhler in which Christoph Brosius had participated and which gave the event the right framework.

Thieu Besselink

Dr. Thieu Besselink: “Re-enchantment” for learning

Thieu Besselink saw his Young Leonardo in the category of “Wisely Smart” as a “beautiful encouragement” for his work. The Dutchman is the founder of the Learning Lab, a think tank for learning and social innovation.

“Why I founded the Learning Lab is to find some kind of re-enchantment of the experience of learning”, he explained his motives. Learning has to be more like life, not less like it. “For that we have to take some risks, we have to experiment, and try things out”. He sees himself as an orchestrator or choreographer of learning experiences. And who could be better suited to present this orchestrator to the audience than Anja Puntari, the Finish artist who has enjoyed such success in the Italian art based business, and Bror Salmelin, who is at the sharp end of Open Innovation for the EU Commission.

Common language found

“What I sensed today was: We want a lot of the same things, and we are finding a language finally to talk about those things“, Thieu Besselink summed up at the end of the award ceremony. Teemu Arina noticed the “infinite optimism” for learning and noted that repeatedly dealing with the issue of what learning means for each individual and how you can influence people is a very worthwhile reason for coming together.

Christopher Brosius said that the award ceremony made it clear to him again that he can actually make a contribution through words and deeds so that people take risks, and that he promotes places in which that is possible. “We need to have trust in ourselves in the future that education in our countries, in our world is in good hands“, Claudia Suhov made it clear.

Alle Preisträger
Majumdar, Besselink, Arina, Suhov, Brosius, Petsch