Emerging city leaders in Europe join new leadership initiative led by RMIT and EIT Urban Mobility


A new leadership program designed to cultivate the next generation of high-potential leaders working at the forefront of urban transformation in Europe’s public sector was launched this month in Barcelona by RMIT Europe, RMIT Forward and EIT Urban Mobility.

The new program – EIT Urban Mobility Emerging Leaders – has seen seven future leaders from Spain, Malta, Hungary, Italy, Germany and the UK embark on a six-month modern leadership journey.

Nominated by their organisation, the inaugural group includes Julia Azpiroz (Barcelona Metropolitan Strategic Plan), Lianne Cassar (Local Councils’ Association of Malta), Péter Dalos (Centre for Budapest Transport), Silvia Demetri (Milan City Council), Jordi Marfà (Barcelona City Council), Sayalee Pendharkar (Munich City Council) and Kate Riggs (Croydon Council).

A common goal across program participants is to extend skills in engaging with diverse groups of stakeholders in their cities, particularly senior decision-makers, policy-makers and citizens.

Website images 1220 x 720 - 1The inaugural EIT Urban Mobility Emerging Leaders cohort. From left: Lianne Cassar, Sayalee Pendharkar, Silvia Demetri Péter Dalos, Jordi Marfà, Kate Riggs and Julia Azpiroz.

The group was welcomed at the launch event in Barcelona by leaders from RMIT Forward, RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility.

RMIT Europe’s Executive Director Professor Marta Fernandez said the new program embodies RMIT’s commitment to fostering a positive, lasting impact on cities and communities in Europe.

“We’re dedicated to nurturing the leaders of tomorrow and equipping them with the skills and perspectives needed to drive sustainable practices within urban mobility,” she said.

EIT Urban Mobility’s Academy Director Martin Vendel said the program will help our future leaders develop skills to balance strategic and tactical thinking, assertiveness with humility and decisiveness with empathy.

“The program encourages openness and builds trust through shared experiences and challenges, with the ultimate goal of creating a network and community,” Vendel said.

“The next generation of city leaders must be visionary, decisive and able to develop cultures of purpose and belonging.

“I already see this drive and passion in our program’s first cohort, and I wish them a fantastic journey over the next six months,” he said.

Website images 1220 x 720 - 2The program launch event in Barcelona

Julia Azpiroz, joining from Barcelona, said she hopes to enhance her leadership skills as well as broaden her understanding of innovative urban solutions to create more sustainable, inclusive, and just cities from a global perspective.

“I’m really excited and honoured to be part of this program – it represents not only professional but also personal growth,” she said.

Lianne Cassar, joining from Malta, said she aims to use the opportunity to network, learn from technical experts and apply insights to support local councils.

“I know the skills I’ll gain through the program can be used to improve communication and support for local government officials,” she said.

Péter Dalos, joining from Hungary, said he hopes to leverage the leadership skills gained from the program to improve team building and stakeholder communication.

“I’m looking forward to learning about different models of communication with different stakeholders bringing diverse experiences from various sectors.”

Silvia Demetri, joining from Italy, said she sees it as a significant opportunity to learn skills that will help in her leadership journey.

“I’m looking forward to the fresh perspectives gained by being in a group with people from diverse backgrounds and cities,” she said.

Jordi Marfà, joining from Barcelona, said he wants to explore how leaderships skills drive transformation in cities.

“I’m keen to examine how effective communication can support the change that’s needed for cities as well as how to better engage with stakeholder groups,” he said.

Sayalee Pendharkar, joining from Germany, said she’s focused on enhancing her skills to engage with people at multiple levels of an organisation.

“I want to be able to actively contribute to discussions with policymakers in mobility transformation especially when it comes to sustainable mobility, climate neutrality challenges and increasing city liveability,” she said.

Kate Riggs, joining from the UK, said she looks forward to learning from other cities to help create a more connected and sustainable urban environment.

“We can all learn from each other and that’s one of the main benefits of this kind of program,” she said.

/RMIT University News Release. View in full here.