Every September we start a new Aspire year with new plans, hopes and ideas. We turn ideas into plans, plans into projects and projects into means to reach our goals and objectives. September is also the moment when we think about the things we did, the projects we brought to life during this Aspire year. I’m excited to share with you briefly our Aspire accomplishments between September 2019 and August 2020 as well as a glimpse into our future plans.
2019-2020 Aspire Accomplishments
We started the Aspire year enthusiastic and ready to prepare a unique Aspire experience for our new cohort. We created our very own Recruitment platform which decreased the time spent by our recruiters evaluating applications and made collaboration easier. We redesigned the online application for our programs focusing more on solving real-world problems. This change helped us select a cohort of inspiring, driven youngsters who we are confident are going to change the world. As the global coronavirus pandemic hit during our recruitment process and made impossible for us to organize our summer programs, we recruited half of the cohort who will join us during the 2021 summer for an unforgettable experience.
We hosted the biggest reunion so far in London where around 70 driven youngsters joined us for a weekend full of networking and learning. The Aspire London weekend has been a record breaker for our events organized abroad:
● Largest Aspire networking dinner abroad: 40 friendly foodies
● Largest Global Weekend Conference: 70 curious minds
● Largest Aspire house party: 50 souls under one roof!
● Largest number of attendants from outside the UK: 25 Aspirers from Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland
During winter we hosted the biggest Aspire hubs in the Black Sea region so far. We started organizing the Aspire hubs in 2018 and we are proud that we managed to grow and expand our network in the area, contributing to the development of the region. We are excited that some of the participants at the Aspire hubs in Georgia and Armenia will join the Aspire 2021 cohort and we look forward to meet them.
With a pandemic changing our plans for offline events, we had to reinvent ourselves and hence Aspire Digital was born. Through our digital program we offered our community the chance to see their favourite Aspire professors as well as a couple of new names in an online format. To offer a flavour of Aspire, we opened Aspire sessions for the very first time to the public. Aspire Digital had 2 components:
- Webinars organized for our community during the lockdown with the scope of empowering and inspiring them on topics such as work-life balance, productivity, finding your motivation or mindfulness.
- Webinars and workshops with experts from Harvard, Stanford, Georgetown, entrepreneurs and VCs on topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship, future, negotiations, sustainability or business. We are proud that 600+ people joined the Aspire Digital program, getting empowered and inspired.
We cannot complete the list of Aspire accomplishments without mentioning 2 of our dear projects that have been initiated during 2020:
- Aspire Blog – an initiative aimed at telling inspiring Aspire stories which already published 20 articles about our projects and alumni, check them out here
- Aspire Dinners – exclusive dinner where 10-15 Aspire alumni have a sit down with an entrepreneur or C-level executive, you can read more about the concept and our first dinners here.
For me, 2020 has been a stepping stone for Aspire as we focused on our vision and future plans. We discussed about our plans for the next 10 years, about how to create an even better Aspire experience before and after joining the program, about how to have more social impact. New ideas and projects have emerged, you’ll soon hear about them.
None of our Aspire accomplishments, activities and successes would have been possible without the continuous help and support of the Aspire Organizing Team and our partners German Marshall Fund through The Black Sea Trust, Baneasa Developments, MidoWeb, Tesatoriile Reunite and Aman Rezidential. We thank them for helping us in our mission to discover, develop and connect young leaders.
You might be wondering what 2021 brings?
2021 will be the start of something wonderful. We’ll continue to work on the projects we started this year as well as developing the initiatives we have thought of. We are planning to create Aspire Embassies in different regions of the world and organize Aspire Dinners there. We will continue to have online webinars dedicated to our community and work on creating a bigger, better, stronger Aspire.
We’re looking forward to summer 2021 which will witness the implementation of the tailored curriculum allowing participants to select part of their courses and create their own Aspire experience. New Aspire professors will join our cohort and you’ll get the chance to hear them exclusively at Aspire, for the very first time. New, unique surprises await you at Aspire X. It will be an amazing experience and you don’t want to miss it!
Elena Zaharia – Executive Director