EFMD behind the scenes: Conversation with Ivana Marinkovic


For our 50th Anniversary, EFMD has created a new “Behind the Scenes” series so you can get to know us better. This conversation is with the Director of EFMD Global Network for Central and Eastern Europe, Ivana Marinkovic

Thank you, Ivana, for taking the time to talk to me today. To start out, can you tell me how long you’ve been at EFMD and about your role with EFMD?

I joined EFMD on the 1st of January 2015. It seems like a long time ago, but to me, it feels like it actually happened yesterday. My first role at EFMD was as the Associate Director for Central and Eastern Europe. I was working for two years closely with my colleagues in Brussels, and I was based in Belgrade. I was frequently visiting the members in the region, attending and organising management development events, and, of course, I had regular trips to the Brussels office.

In 2017, we opened the regional office in Prague. Together with our colleagues, we were responsible for making sure that we put the office in a good place, we started hiring the people, and from then on, the rest is history. We grew so fast, and it’s really good to witness every day how we are enriching our portfolio and activities because it means that the needs in the region are there. Every day we’re growing and learning too, so it’s been going very well.

Right now, we are in a pretty challenging time for that region. Has that affected your work?

I have to say that it has affected my work greatly because none of us knows what may happen tomorrow, or in the next minute, or hour. Everything is very turbulent, and I’m sure that all of us are following the news, being in close contact with our friends and loved ones, and not to mention, of course, that we are all in shock. We cannot believe what is happening in the 21st century. The whole world is praying that the war will stop and all of us in EFMD, together with our network, are continuously trying to help and support the Ukrainian people both in Ukraine and abroad.

 Learn more about Ivana in the video with Eline Loux below.

Yes, it’s a very difficult and challenging time, I think for everyone.

And unfortunately, there will be inevitable consequences for all of us. That is very, very sad. Two years ago, the whole world went in the battle against COVID. You know, we came to the point that it’s finally disappearing and everyone felt this inner happiness again that we will be able to travel, see our friends and finally, have our lives back. And now this has happened. It hurts us all to witness every day how innocent people are suffering in so many ways and that the consequences may unfortunately remain.

Yes, that’s true. I know that you have a son. He’s probably a little young, but if he were older, how you describe your job to him?

I was thinking about this question a lot because I know that the time will come when your child will ask you what you’re doing, the same as I was asking my parents. I’m already explaining it to him now that Mommy is working, and I’m trying to have a serious face while I am saying that. But we are very easy-going at EFMD, and we have a great network that supports us. Every time my son interrupts a Zoom call, everyone is super happy to see him. And every time I say that I’m going to the room because I have a call or “Mommy is working”, he is running after me because for him, it is also like a fun event. If I were about to explain what we are doing, I would say that we are a very special unit of Santa’s helpers or Marvel superheroes who are trying to help the grown-ups to go to school and be better “big children”.

I like that. That’s nice. I know it’s hard to predict the future, especially now, but in three words, where do you see EFMD in 10 years?

Metaverse, virtual reality and accreditation.

I’m sure that we will reach the point where, because we’re super innovative and I can proudly say we are the pioneers of change, we will be the first ones to envision some sort of future accreditation or certification of the Metaverse courses that will inevitably occur in the future. Of course, we’re already involved in blockchain, and so I see us being champions in that direction as well.

That will be an interesting thing to see. So, switching to some more personal questions about you – what is the best advice you have ever received?

It actually happened when I was 15 years old, and it came from my grandma. I was at the age when I was annoyingly sensitive, and there was “a” boy who didn’t want to invite me to some party, so I was heartbroken, and there was a lot of crying and ice cream, sweets and hiding under the blanket involved. So, my grandma told me that he was not going to come to my house and ring our door. And I was crying, and I was like, yes, he won’t. She said he won’t and no one else will, so the advice that she gave me is that if you want something in life badly, you need to get out, and you need to fight for it. It’s something that stayed with me. She also told me not to hide from life and to leave the blanket with my candies.

Your grandmother sounds like a very wise woman.

She was, yes.

What could you give a 20-minute presentation with absolutely no preparation?

That would definitely be about what we do. Every time we go on the podium at a conference or in the virtual space, and when we start explaining what we do and how many services we have, we always break the time and receive so many questions. Even for us working for EFMD, we’re growing so fast by every minute, and we’re having so many activities and collaborating with many institutions. Sometimes we don’t even know how good we are.

But apart from EFMD, the great work we are doing and the great colleagues, I can talk about literature because it’s one of my passions and the field of my studies. I’m also very interested in philosophy, psychology, art, so that’s something that I can also bore people with.

Thinking of literature, what book has impacted you the most?

Well, at the very moment, I’m reading Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge: And the Discourse on Language, and I can say that this book is really impacting me because it forces you to think about the invisible link between the power of knowledge and the intrinsic dimensions of life. Having in mind what is happening in the world and Foucault’s explanation of how knowledge and its discursive forms are linked with the language and, furthermore, directly connected with our “conscious and subconscious mind”. It makes us think about our actions and how we govern our lives.

But the book that really impacted me for many years was The Diary of Anne Frank. Unfortunately, I received it at the time, from my grandparents, when the war in Yugoslavia started. It was, in a way, good timing and bad timing. The good timing was because the book really helped me to understand that I was not alone in the horror that was happening around me and my surroundings. The book taught me that time is relative, that nationalities, countries, borders, religion, it all doesn’t matter; what is important is that we are all humans and that love and respect should be universal for all of us.

Later on in life, when I came back to Anna’s masterpiece as a student of literature, I understood how smart and how brave she was. Something that I couldn’t see when I was 7-years old.

Yes, I remember that book had a pretty huge impact on me as well. To end on a positive note, what is something you’re looking forward to in the future?

I will first answer this question on behalf of all of us at EFMD. I hope that we will continue to grow, become even more omnipresent (if possible). That we will create more opportunities for our network and continue to positively impact business and management education.

Personally, I also hope that the war in Ukraine will end. And I hope it will stop by the time our interview is published. That would be it from my side. I wish everyone to stay safe, to stay strong and let’s unite our strengths and efforts to make things even better.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today, Ivana. I appreciate it.

See more of our staff interview series.