Meet Ane Eline Sørensen
Please introduce yourself (who are you and what do you do in your life)
My name is Ane Eline Sørensen, I’m a Design Innovation Director with 30+ years’ experience of creative leadership for global commercial brands, multinational NGOs, and principal culture institutions.
I work with coastal resilience – particularly in the global south – and ocean impact innovation. Additionally I teach the role of design as a change agent in the complexity of sustainability at masters level. I’m Danish, have a base in Copenhagen, generally relocate and travel often.
Which team and when did you graduate?
Team 2, 1996
I decided I needed to fully hone in on regenerative and ethical innovation, and work much more directly with nature restoration and protection
What have you been doing since you graduated as a Kaospilot?
After graduation I went into film and TV focusing on producing and directing, looking for new ways to tell stories, especially about the challenging things in life, including documentary making from developing areas. Left that industry as I wanted to push creative boundaries not willing to budge at the time. Went into visual arts, did a degree in it, part Denmark, part Japan, then did a double master’s on critical design and design + systems thinking. Worked as a design and creative director in the commercial space for some years, made [another] adjustment in 2015 when I found myself a Senior Creative Director for adidas Group, Global Brand at the HQ in Germany, realising that fun did not substitute for gratification. I decided I needed to fully hone in on regenerative and ethical innovation, and work much more directly with nature restoration and protection. Which I’ve done ever since.
What is important for you in your job?
People are. Collaboration is. Constantly learning on the job, updating with latest science and research on what is needed for planetary health and regenerative impact, including postcolonial and decentralised collaboration methodologies. Constantly and humbly learning from indigenous teachings and tapping into broader planetary wisdom and energies.
I firmly believe a big part of leadership is challenging the status quo, even if this means questioning authorities and existing systems with the risk of becoming exposed and vulnerable ourselves
What major learnings would you point out from your experience that have shaped you as a leader?
Pushing limits and seeing beyond is something I seem to consistently do, I’m naturally drawn to the “unruly edges”. I’ve worked in global commercial brand development and found stronger and clearer leadership volunteering with permaculturalists in Hawaii. Stewardship of land and designing for human habitation based on connection to land, body and spirit is far more visionary than the glitzy corridors of conglomerates.
I firmly believe a big part of leadership is challenging the status quo, even if this means questioning authorities and existing systems with the risk of becoming exposed and vulnerable ourselves. Look at the state of the planet. If we don’t design alternatives and implement those with the utmost urgency, we all know where human kind is headed. People and systems who profit from holding power and extracting resources will always fight against those who challenge them. I’m harmony seeking in nature and with planetary matters this much out of whack, I can’t help but try and reach this goal – even if I sometimes need to face situations I’d rather not be in.
As leaders who see how things might be better, it’s our duty as well as privilege to act on it. Leadership is many things, it includes being strong in intent and integrity while being in line with the good of all. It’s about shaping and desiging great concepts and giving direction to how to arrive. I also believe great leadership is about facilitating collaboration and holding space for a seemingly unmanageable amount of complexity.
If anyone reading this is interested in joining this conversation, please do! Reach out! We need an army of all kinds to manage the collapse and secure a regenerative future
What is your biggest source for inspiration right now?
Discussing and prospecting what economic diversity looks like. I’m fortunate to collaborate with incredible thinkers and frontline conservationists who all sit at the forefront of ecological protection and restoration. This includes impact investors, business and web3 folks who are all concerned with defining our next economic models that will support planetary health. Design Innovation provides a way for us to think in different ways and solutions when facing current and future challenges, in order to contribute to creating holistic and desired solutions. I ask myself daily what kind of futures we want to create, especially when facing the vast complexity of our economies and how we might re-design market demands, supply chains, sourcing and production of the goods and services consumed on the global stage.
Lately we’re discussing the Economy of Love and Life Economy a lot. It’s brilliant people doing brilliant things that keeps me to the fire when hit with too much gloom and doom at times. Incredible people are hard at work proving things can be turned around, the general public sadly not knowing enough about it. If anyone reading this is interested in joining this conversation, please do! Reach out! We need an army of all kinds to manage the collapse and secure a regenerative future.
What would be an example of a learning or an experience from your time at Kaospilot that has been important to you?
Back in my day we had something called the “inner pilot”, it took up about a third of the programme if I recall correctly. This teaching brought many gifts and placed me firmly on a forever path to be better, do better myself. Always upgrading. Always expanding, and being aware of how I show up. Healing myself and others in the process. The best leaders I know are emotionally mature, have the courage to show their true face and love making other people shine and doing what they do best. I strive to be that person.
What is a piece of advice that you would like to give future Kaospilot graduates?
I come from the perspective of planetary health. One thing I tell my students today is that we need each other. The complexity of the challenges we face, must be reflected in how we organise. Find each other, get together, form collectives. Collaborate across disciplines, sectors, cultures, and generations. And before and while you do all of that, connect to your own core, your foundation.