A philosophy we hold close to our hearts at Kaospilot is the idea of working with what is real. No made-up cases or outdated simulations. This approach is evident throughout the education, but nowhere is it as present as on the final year. The students are put to the test by working directly on what we hope will be – or lead to – their livelihood directly after finishing. It is an intense experience with many emotions, individual needs and lots of experimentation. It takes courage, patience and a big heart to lead the team safely through this journey, qualities that is all found in our third year team-leader Pete Sims. Originally from Ottawa, Canada he found his way to Aarhus via studies at the Swedish sustainability-program MSLS, and he really enjoys the dynamic environment that the 37 eager learners of Team 18 creates.


KP: What it is that you do at Kaospilot?


PS: I am currently team leader working with the third year students. What that means is that I have designed the curriculum, with the help of a team of my colleagues, for the entire year. It’s a platform for the students to take all that they have learned in the previous two years, integrate it and apply it in order to create their final graduation project. The idea is to put it all together and creating something meaningful and relevant that shows what you’re capable of and something that you can be proud of.


To best help the students achieve this, my job has many dimensions: finding the right guest lecturers to come and train the students, putting them all together in the right order, creating a flow for it all, assembling a team of guidance persons who will supervise the projects, creating a set up for the final exam, and of course a whole lot of time spent with the students taking care of  everything from asking into their learning, and reflections to basic logistical tasks. Never a dull moment really.


KP: The 3rd year is very important as it is preparing them to be ready to leave the schools as capable graduates. I know you recently changed the design a bit. What is your approach to creating this learning-journey and how is it different from before?


PS: The first thing that we changed with the new design was to lengthen the final project period. Before the third year was divided into three smaller assignments. What we thought was that the students would really benefit from going deeper into one big project, in a field that they care about, and really connecting with the leaders, trends and developments in the field. Overall it’s about going deeper. Deeper into their research, deeper and bigger executions, and overall results, and deepening the learning and reflection overall.
Every year, we make some new experiments with approaches to learning, new skills and new lecturers. We are also putting even more emphasis on new approaches to learning independently within the field: new skills, new group constellations, partnerships with others schools and communities that we find inspiring and aligned with what we are trying to do here.  We are always looking for inspiration from other people we admire.
Overall, after 2 years of trying it we are very happy with what we have seen, and we are always working to refine it and make it even more valuable for the students.



KP: So they actually have the time, and a safe space to explore what a new business or position in an organization could look like?


PS: Yes, exactly, it’s kind of like a hybrid blend between the “real world”  with all of the exciting challenges and opportunity, and a safe training space where you can learn from mistakes, reflect on what you are doing and learning and benefit from being part of a supportive and caring community.  It can be tough to find that balance where it’s not “too real” or “too safe”, and that’s what keeps it interesting.


KP: It sounds ‘like quite a wide selection of fields and projects, from those doing their own start-up to others honing their skills in existing organizations. What are the kind of skills you think they all need to train and hone during their 3rd year?


PS: We look to train the students in a generic set of skills and competencies that we think are needed in any project or start-up regardless of the field.  We have four disciplines at Kaospilot: Creative Business Design, Process Leadership, Project Design and Creative Leadership. We believe that the combination of these four elements, which include skills such as storytelling, action and experimenting, improvisation, understanding value and the impact of you work,  emotional intelligence, planning and scoping, business modeling, ETC All these are what helps turn their ideas into reality. The interesting part is how each students creates their own signature “style” of a mix of these skills, as they apply them into the context of their projects. Our final project exhibitions, at the end of the year are always really exciting because it shows just how diverse they are, but is all hangs together in way that makes sense.


KP: I know that the concept of guidance also plays a significant role throughout the years at the Kaospilot program – how does that work?


PS:  Its a very important role that I, along with the other team leaders and staff have. We  act as guides and mentors to the students. This begins in first year, and carries on until graduation. There are a few different approaches and set-ups, depending on the year, but the overall idea and approach to to support the students to explore their own learning and development, to challenge them, and to support them as they go through their projects and the education overall. It is one of the most challenging and exciting parts of my job, as each student is different and each meeting calls for me to sense what is needed in that moment in order to help them. I think it’s a special part of the education. We really care about what and how they are doing.