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Tell us a bit about your background
Growing up between countries, from early
childhood I had a strong desire to explore
the world and to support the positive
evolution of humanity. My journey so
far has taken me to work and live in 16
difference countries, including China, where
I have been based for the last 7 years with
my husband and our two amazing boys.
Throughout my career my focus has always
been on supporting people to transform
toward their full potential. In China I am
know as a top authority on Executive
Coaching and Developing a Global Mindset,
often invited as a speaker at large human
capital conferences and business events. I
have coached and consulted to numerous
managers and senior leaders across the
United States, Europe and Asia over the
last 14 years, and am currently the Head of
Executive Coaching at MDS, a leadership
development and executive coaching
company with offices in several major
cities in Asia – From
2011 to 2013, I also served as the European
Chamber of Commerce in China’s HR
Forum Chair, successfully launching several
large events which brought a more holistic
and strategic understanding of people
development to the multi-national business
community in China.
Prior to MDS, I spent 10 years at Accenture,
working as a Management Consultant in
the areas of human capital strategy, talent
Future Astronaut Interview: Elisa Mallis
management, coaching and leadership
effectiveness. As an executive within
Accenture, I developed the Human
Capital Strategy for nine countries in
the Asia Pacific region, including China.
Before joining Accenture, I worked as a
therapist for several years, supporting and
developing programs for community mental
health centers in the New York City Bronx.
I have earned a Masters in Organizational
Psychology and a Master of Education
in Counselling Psychology both from
Columbia University in New York. I have
authored, co-authored and contributed to
a number of academic and news articles on
the topics of global mindset and leadership
What was your motivation for signing up
to be a Founder Astronaut with XCOR
Space Expeditions?
Growing up between two countries
(spending 6 months in one and 6 months
in the other throughout my childhood)
my experience was one of not completely
belonging / fitting in at the one ‘home
town’ or the other. As I searched far and
wide for my own true identity, I realised
that the most important part of it was in
being human . . . A Human Being.
During my search I explored many
cultures, religions and spiritual traditions.
What I continuously noticed was that
although there are so many differences,
the similarities are astounding and in
many ways more important. My role as
Chair of the Selection Committee for the
International Spirit at Work Awards from
2005 to 2009 helped me further expand
my thinking and appreciate the many ways
to nurture the human spirit in the workplace
across all cultures and religions. Apollo
14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who played
an important role in the Spirit at Work
movement, inspired me to begin adopting
a perspective of earth as if looking at it
from space. That ‘one world’ perspective
has formed the foundation and framework
for the Global Mindset Workshops that I
have delivered to hundreds of managers
and leaders at multi-national companies in
My quest to even further develop my own
global mindset has led me on the journey
to space. I believe that if we want to secure
the well-being of the earth and our species
we must radically shift our perspective
to see the world a whole, rather than a
collection of separate entities. Progress
relies on unity. My purpose for going to
space is to accelerate the mindset shift that
will push humanity forward by making the
earth from space perspective accessible to
Does signing up to be a Founder astronaut
have anything to do with you being
passionate for developing people and
their global mindset?
Absolutely, over the last two years I have
delivered a number of Global Mindset
workshops to managers and leader
working for multi-national companies in
Asia. Even after a short workshop I’ve
seen the tremendous impact that taking
a world from space perspective can have
on a leader’s way of thinking, their way
of relating to colleagues and their way of
looking at their own business problems. I
believe that as more leaders take a truly
global perspective we will finally be ‘solving
for the world’ and we will have a real
opportunity to tackle some of the biggest
challenges that threaten our planet and
our existence. As a founder astronaut I
am really making a statement about and
demonstrating a strong commitment to the
Future Astronaut Interview: Elisa Mallis
SXC Future Astronaut Interview: Elisa Mallis
earth from space perspective that I believe
is so important.
What are your expectations of XCOR
Space Expeditions as a company?
My expectations are two fold. XCOR is now
playing a very important role in preparing
the first commercial astronauts who will
make the journey to space, including
myself. That preparation includes physical
and mental aspects related to safety, fitness
and stamina.
XCOR will also play an increasingly bigger
role in raising global understanding of the
importance of commercial space travel and
the possibilities it opens up for research
to safeguard the future and welfare of our
Which questions are often asked when
you tell people about you becoming an
Of course the first question people ask is –
That is usually followed by a great deal of
curiosity related to the Lynx (the spacecraft
itself) and how and when the flight to space
will take place.
People often ask me if I am concerned for
my safety and how much and what type of
physical and mental preparation is required
to take on this type of astronaut role.
Which part of the flight will be most
challenging you think?
I think the re-entry to earth will be the
most challenging because of the amount
of physical pressure that we will experience
on our body, which is something most of
us have never experienced before. As I
woman I am encouraged by the fact that
child birth is also something I had never
experienced before (at least the first time
I went through it), and something quite
challenging physically, and I got through
that just fine.
Which part of the space flight you think
would be the most exciting one?
Of course the moment of being 100 km
above the earth and looking at our earth
from that new and transformational
vantage point.