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 our Manager of Finance, Angela Rojas.
Thank you for talking with me today, Angela. It’s very nice to meet you and hear from someone on the administrative side of EFMD. Can you tell me how long you’ve been with EFMD and what you do?
Thank you for having me. It’s very nice to meet you as well. It’s nice to see the faces of your colleagues. I am working for EFMD now for 14 years. Wow, 15 years. This year will be 15 years. I started in October 2007.
And what do you do for EFMD?
I work in the accountancy department. It’s very challenging because EFMD it’s very diversified with a lot of activities. So, I work 100% for accountancy.
And what do you like most about your work?
What I like most is the contact with all the colleagues. I have contact with everyone. I can advise everyone. Some departments have more contact with some departments, but we at administration will have contact with everyone. Everyone is coming to see us, for research, to ask for help for a conference, for example, if they do a conference in a country of the European Union, how the VAT has to be applied. The rules they have to follow. Yes, what I like the most is this contact and helping colleagues.
And what do you want people to know about the accounting department?
Sometimes people think that we are bothering them, it’s not because we want, but because we have to follow the account rules for taxes and legal representation. If a colleague has an invoice that is not correct, so we will speak with them. It can be difficult for people to understand, but the finance department is there to explain and help.
We like to have the job well done. We take a lot of care about the legal responsibilities to avoid problems after if we have a control. In general, people accept, but I can understand that it’s complicated.
If EFMD makes a conference in Spain, EFMD cannot charge the Belgium VAT. I want people to know that it is not to bother them; we are there to assist and advise about accountancy and tax rules. I think that people know that we are always available, they can always come, and we will always try to find a solution.
Sure, of course. So thinking of that, what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far while working at EFMD?
When I started, it was the analytical codes. At EFMD, we work with A LOT of analytical codes. I was a little lost. There were really hundreds of codes because we have too many activities, so understanding the way how EFMD works was really a challenge for me. Now, it’s just normal, but when you start in the accountancy at EFMD, I think this is something surprising for everyone.
The challenge now is the VAT because we are making conferences in all the European countries; so, we have to be subject to every country. The rules for every European country are different. It’s very difficult, even for the experts. Europe wants to make that more regularised, to make more conformity with all the countries but for the moment is not the case. Every country applies their own rules. So, it’s very challenging.
It sounds very complicated.
Yes, it’s complicated. Sometimes people ask me things I don’t have an immediate answer. We have an external VAT office for special advice and sometimes they have to ask their correspondent in that country. So yeah, it’s a big challenge.
What do you appreciate the most about the EFMD network?
To work with our international colleagues. This is pretty nice. When you arrive at EFMD, you feel like you are in the complete world. We have colleagues from everywhere. I remember in the first years at EFMD when letters arrived from, let’s say, Czech, Spanish, French, English, in every language. You can go to one of your colleagues to translate the letter. In this atmosphere, where we help each other, you can know the culture of everyone. When we sit at the table at lunchtime, everyone starts saying, “Oh, my country it’s like this and mine it’s like that”. It’s so nice to have this ambience. It’s not common. It’s a side I appreciate very much.
I like that about EFMD as well. It is really nice. So getting to know you a little more personally, can you tell me the three words that would best describe you?
Responsible. Reliable. Positive. Yeah, I think these three words describe me well. I am someone that you can count on. I know what I have to do, I know my and EFMD’s responsibilities. I think, like many people, I like to do my best. Yeah, and I am positive. I have a positive character. I think that if you are positive, the good energies arrive to you and I believe in this. I think when you are positive; the good things come to you easily.
Yes, I agree. What habit do you have now that you wish you had started much earlier?
Now? Teleworking. Before, we in the administration said we cannot telework. Other colleagues can work at home because they do more network. In the accountant department, before COVID, we needed a lot of papers. You cannot imagine how we needed the papers before. Two years ago, I said teleworking is nice, but it’s not for me. I need, the bank statements, the invoices, I need the documents. I cannot work at home.
Then COVID arrived, and it was a challenge for the administration because we never worked at home. I said to myself, what we will do? Where are our documents? We need the papers, and now, two years after I see that we don’t need papers, everything can be electronic. So, I change my mind, I adapt and do my job. I think that the work that we are doing it’s very good. There are no delays; all the information is available. So yeah, this is a habit I have now and I like it very much, I think it was a challenge but we went over that with our accountancy department.
Sounds much more environmentally friendly as well.
Yes, less paper is more environmentally friendly and it’s really easy to make teleworking. You need only good material and internet connection. I am very happy that now we can telework two days at home. That is a very good decision; it is very nice to have the opportunity to work at home. I think that it’s a good thing for your personal life. It’s more relaxed, you can combine your professional and private life.
Yes, I like that too. What would you do with your extra time if you didn’t have to sleep?
If I didn’t have to sleep, I would learn languages. From my childhood, I always wanted to learn many languages. It would be very nice to understand everyone, it’s just great when people speak and you can understand and communicate. So, if I have extra time, I will take advantage to learn more and more languages. I think life will be easier if you understand the other, you can accept more things. The problem is when you don’t understand and you cannot communicate with the other, it creates barriers. The other thing I would like to do is Pilates and relaxing activities such as read, go to the cinema, theater…
So, I don’t know, where are you from originally?
I am from Colombia.
Colombia. And so, how many languages do you already speak?
I speak Spanish, French, English and I can communicate in Dutch. My husband is from the Netherlands, so I have been studying Dutch for many years, but it’s still so difficult for me.
I think that’s very impressive. What would you do if you were given a surprise, three days paid break to rest and recuperate?
I will go to a hotel with a spa, massage, sauna, Jacuzzi, and I will rest. Yeah, I love this. I love sauna and the calm atmosphere that you have in a spa. You go there, and you don’t take your phone or laptop… you take only a nice book and take advantage of a complete day only for you. You go to relax, to think about you, yes, for sure I will do this. Three days in a hotel with a sauna, Jacuzzis, massage. Oh, yeah, a dream.
Thank you so much, Angela. That’s all the questions that I have for you today. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and getting to meet you and know you a little better. Thank you so much for doing this.
Oh, thank you very much, Laura. Thank you.
Learn more about Angela in the video with Eline Loux below.
See more of our staff interview series.