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Leadership lessons from Scott Kelly

Workiva Amplify
Leadership Lessons From Scott Kelly
3 min read
Published: July 18, 2017
Last Updated: November 16, 2020

During his epic "Year in Space," American astronaut Scott Kelly captivated the world, while laying the groundwork for the future of space travel and exploration. Now, he will bring awe-inspiring stories and personal reflections on leadership, teamwork, and testing limits to the 2017 Wdesk user conference in Las Vegas, Sept. 19–21.

We recently sat down with Kelly to ask him about his time in space. Some of Kelly's top takeaways arose from dealing with the same kinds of stresses that businesspeople face every day.

Kelly launched on March 27, 2015, and lived aboard the International Space Station with 13 astronauts and cosmonauts representing seven different nations, during his yearlong mission. In order to achieve his mission's goals, Kelly frequently worked with these international partners, despite political differences in governments at home. Collaboration was a skill that proved to be invaluable while on his mission.

Kelly and the station crew conducted almost 400 investigations to advance NASA’s mission. Kelly's research primarily focused on how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation, and the stress of long-duration spaceflight. Kelly’s identical twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, participated in parallel twin studies on Earth, to help scientists compare the effects of space on the body and mind down to the cellular level. Kelly's mission also included three spacewalks where he performed station upgrades, reconfigured an ammonia cooling system, and restored solar power-generating capability, as well as functionality to the station's Mobile Transporter system.

One of his top lessons was about prioritization and time management, skills critical whether you are an astronaut or an accountant. "When you are engaged in something as long as a yearlong mission, you can't be 100% focused all the time. Knowing when to focus and when to lighten up is crucial," said Kelly.

While preparation for the journey was intensive, said Kelly, core skills got him through unanticipated situations. Technical rigor, trustworthiness, and data accuracy were also critical to his success. "I've found that sound basic skills and generic training prepared me best for the unexpected," Kelly said. "And while it is important to have good data, how you interpret it and what you do with it is key."

Hear more of how Kelly dealt with the pressures of a year in space in September at the Wdesk user conference, The Exchange Community, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Sept. 19–21. Join hundreds of other businesspeople to receive valuable hands-on training, and benefit from industry thought leadership, while creating meaningful connections with professionals from across the country.

Register by Aug. 11 to take advantage of the budget-saver pricing.

About the Author
Mitz Banarjee
Mitz Banarjee

EVP, Chief Customer Officer

As executive vice president and chief customer officer, Mitz Banarjee is a key contributor to the growth of Workiva’s customer base ensuring satisfaction, experience and retention are best in class. Mitz is an expert in leading teams and brings years of experience working with customers and building Workiva's customer success and services organizations. He joined Workiva in 2010 and has served in various leadership roles ensuring the exponential growth of the global business.

Mitz also oversees the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) business growth and alignment to company goals that capitalize on the market opportunity.  In addition to helping ensure the best customer experience and growth in EMEA, he also oversees the global administrative and facilities function for Workiva. Over the past 20 years, he has helped drive customer satisfaction and customer loyalty at an operational level for technology companies of all sizes.

Prior to Workiva, Mitz was director of client services at Yodle (acquired by, one of the largest local ad networks in the United States. Mitz has a Bachelor of Arts in Information Systems from the University of Lincoln in Lincoln, England, United Kingdom.

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