For our August Spotlight, we introduce you to Eleni Han. An ELNshowcase winner for the NU project and long-time ELN member. Read about how Eleni got involved with the ELN, why she believes diverse leadership is so important, and more about her leadership journey.
Q: What motivated you to join the ELN and/or apply to the DiverseCity Fellows Program?
I was first exposed to CivicAction through a consulting project with Accenture where I helped develop the analysis and recommendations for the Escalator project. I realized then CivicAction played a unique role in helping shape our city’s priorities. However, it was only after working in private sector management consulting for 2.5 years, living in Toronto, did I feel a sense of duty and need to get involved – prompting me to join ELN. I have been continuing to learn about civic engagement ever since!
Q: Why is diverse leadership important?
The issues we deal with today are multi-faceted, they are difficult. They can’t and shouldn’t be simplified. Our world is diverse, and as we converge more and more due to free flow of information, globalization etc. our issues have become more and more diverse. Our leaders should and need to be reflective of the people and the population, and that population looks very different today than it did even several decades years ago.
Q: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess and why?
The ability to do the hard thing. That could mean a number of things to different people, but for me, it’s often been continuing to persist when it feels engagement and motivation are low. Motivating yourself is hard enough as it is (and I struggle with it all the time), motivating others on top of motivating yourself – it’s the hardest thing I’m (hopefully) learning how to do.
Q: What is one thing you do to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I check myself a lot with the people I trust. Some people call them advisors, mentors etc. For me, it’s just people that I look up to, and that’s quite often some of my best friends: my partner at NU (our ELN-incubated project) who tells me when I’m being too intense, my boyfriend who listens patiently as I talk things out – sometimes to him, sometimes to myself – it helps me practice clarity of thought and speech as he points out flaws in my argument and ways of thinking all the time (in a nice way).
I think communication is one of the toughest barriers to break in getting things done. The ability to get what’s in-between my ears to what’s in-between your ears is a game of telephone in itself. My words could come out completely differently than how I feel, and you could interpret it completely differently than how I intended.
Q: What is a hobby/talent of yours that people may not know about you?
I used to play piano and sing. I don’t do it much anymore sadly but it used to be a great outlet for (teen) angst. There’s something very satisfying about belting at the top of your lungs with no fear of being heard, no matter what the song is really – maybe that will be my next project, a therapeutic, sound proof lounge for people to literally blow off steam.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
Everyone I love and everyone they love (because it will help me understand them better). All the famous people that are inspiring, etc. would be great of course, but I can read about them. The people in my life currently have actually played a role in shaping who I am today.