ZeroAvia team offsite: time out to reflect on progress and recommit to clean aviation
October 7, 2022
In midsummer, ZeroAvia took a moment away from our leading-edge R&D work to convene the company for an offsite meeting.
Why now? On the verge of test-flying the ZA600 powertrain on our Dornier 228 in the UK, having just closed our latest round of investment, and adding our latest air carrier partners, the moment seemed right. Plus, with a rapidly growing number of team members, it was time to collect and take stock.
ZeroAvians heard updates from our technology and business leadership on the achievements of the past year and the direction we’re heading in the next few. It was exciting to learn more about other segments of our organization and to get an across-the-board strategic view. It was also a treat to get an up-close look at the problem-solving journey of our inverter team!
Amid an increasingly busy field, ZeroAvia is the leading developer of zero-emission, hydrogen-electric aviation. In addition to technical expertise, our success is also the result of first-principles thinking and a one-team one-goal culture that has emboldened us to push beyond technological boundaries in practical ways. Maintaining this mindset and staying open to new ways of framing and solving problems will be essential to our continued success.
So, we used our time by working together, both in and outside the box. The two days began with some simple group drumming. If you held a certain kind of drum, you were assigned a handful of basic rhythms. But, as the workshop leaders orchestrated those patterns into a collectively-performed song, we performed as instructed and were also encouraged to loosen up and flex ourselves within our lanes. The mix of cohesion and flair produced a solid underlying beat with a playful top layer that transformed what might have been a simple drumming exercise into a rousing celebration of rhythm. It also surfaced a few proficient drummers in the team!
In a different vein, we also heard from Matthew Syed, a pioneer in how mindset can impact performance. Syed outlined for us the differences between a growth mindset and fixed mindset: An organization with a fixed mindset is constrained by its belief in its own talents and expertise, while a growth mindset organization believes in its capacity for development beyond what they already know. Mixing that growth approach with a commitment to cognitive diversity— assembling an organization of people who are encouraged to think differently from each other and assess challenges from different perspectives—is, in Syed’s view, a strong recipe for organizational success. Syed’s talk led to a lively fireside with Val on how we recruit with diversity in mind and ensure a safe environment for the team to express themselves and contribute ideas.
An airport design team competition using Lego pieces brought out our competitive spirit and challenged us to meet diverging needs of different groups and respond to feedback in design. The number one takeaway? A successful organization will listen carefully to its customer’s requirements and attend to their responses as iteration follows iteration. Second takeaway? It’s quite a challenge orchestrating 150 bright creative minds when surrounded by piles of Lego!
Our final session focused on our impact in the broadest sense. This included a workshop facilitated by Crissy Levett, founder and CEO of Creative Conscience, where we brought together our individual passions and skills to think up new ways to solve the problems that we care most about. We also heard about our growing early careers program and how this will support our diversity aims.
All in all, it was an occasion to challenge ourselves to continue thinking imaginatively and continue safely iterating our solution to aviation emissions. We also took time to recognize that, although our work lives are dedicated to helping abate the global climate crisis, we can uphold the ZeroAvia ethos in other aspects of our daily lives.
ZeroAvia’s purpose runs deep. For us, solving aviation’s climate impact is a moral imperative to ensure the world continues to be connected through the power of flight without doing harm to our planet. Enabling people to visit and interact globally is vital to understanding different cultures, sharing ideas, enabling trade and experiencing the beauty of the very planet we are striving to nurture. It is a force for peace and prosperity.
We took two valuable days for a company-wide reset. Now, we have returned to our worksites, rededicated to the hard work of advancing zero-emission aviation.