For our 50th Anniversary, EFMD has created a “Behind the Scenes” series so you can get to know us better. This conversation is with Diana Grote, one of our Managers for Business School Services in Brussels.
Thank you, Diana, for agreeing to do this today. To start out with, could you tell us a little about yourself? How long have you been at EFMD, what do you do, and where are you from?
Of course. So I’ve been with EFMD now for 15 years. It’s been quite a while, and I’m originally from Germany, but I’ve been living in Belgium now for over 18 years.
I didn’t know that. So, you’re with the Business School Services Department, correct?
What events are you primarily responsible for throughout the year?
I am in charge of three of our conferences – one is our Bachelor Programmes Conference, which is aimed at bachelor programme directors or people who are generally involved with bachelor programmes. I organise a similar event for MBA directors, and then I’m also in charge of our Annual Conference that basically brings together all the different EFMD members from all different backgrounds.
It’s a big one. I’m sure it keeps you busy all year.
Yes, definitely. They’re well spread over the year, but I’m never bored.
Learn more about Diana in the video with Eline Loux below.
And how would you describe what you do to a child?
Well, it’s a bit like organising a school excursion and a birthday party at the same time. So basically, part of my job is to give people the opportunity to discover new things and to learn. And then part of it is to meet new people and make new friends so that they can then one day, if they have a problem, reach out to those friends who might be able to help them in their daily lives or in their jobs.
And what is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while working for EFMD?
For me, the biggest challenge was definitely moving all the conferences online during the pandemic. I thought that was a real challenge because I wasn’t very much at ease with the technology of the different event platforms and had no clue how you make engaging sessions online. It was a great opportunity to learn a lot of new things and new skills. And I was really amazed, by the help I received from our team. It was a real team effort and, in the end we managed to design engaging events that I enjoyed a lot and hope our participants did too.
Are you happy to be back in person?
Oh, yes, I am. Although it was great to be able to go online rather than having to say, oh, no, sorry, we can’t do any conferences this year. So it was a great opportunity. But I very much missed meeting people face to face because of that fun part you have at events where you chat with people and get to know them better. I thought that was really missing from the online experience. You can, of course, do part of it in the virtual space, but it’s just not the same. Like after a long day, when you sit down with people, and you have more casual conversations. I was missing that part in the online world.
So along those lines, what do you appreciate the most about the EFMD network?
It’s definitely meeting all these great people from very different cultures and very different backgrounds. It’s amazing to discover what is done in universities around the world and to meet people who are generally very open-minded and easy to talk to. So the social part of my job, I really enjoy that a lot.
That’s very nice. So personally, what is something you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t gotten around to?
Really? Have you never tried yoga?
Yes, I’m always planning to start yoga because I think it would be really good for me and help me to relax and so on. But so far, I haven’t taken the step to take actual classes.
Yes, I’m sure you would be totally fine. If you could travel in the blink of an eye. Where would you go and why?
I would go to Australia. I have a very close friend who lives in Perth, and I haven’t seen her in a long time now because she couldn’t travel to Europe during the pandemic either. I really miss her, and I would really like to beam myself over there and catch up a bit.
Have you been there before?
That would be a great trip. What habit do you wish you had started much earlier?
Sports. I never was a sports person. Like during my university time and even at school, I never did a lot of sports. And I started that fairly late in life, and now I enjoy it a lot, so I wish I would have done that earlier.
Yes, I agree. I was the same. And our last question, if you had one superpower, what would it be, and what would you do with it?
I would time travel.
And where would you go?
Oh, there are so many things I would like to see for real. I would like to attend a Doors concert. I think that would be the first thing I would do and then travel to all those different time periods like, for example, Granada under the Moorish kingdom, Machu Pichu at its prime, or Pompei before the eruption. I would love that.
Yes, that would be a nice superpower to have. Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Diana. It was nice to get to know you better.
See more of our staff interview series.