EFMD behind the scenes: Conversation with Andrea Maresova


For our 50th Anniversary, EFMD has created a “Behind the Scenes” series so you can get to know us better. This conversation is with Andrea Maresova, one of our Managers for EDAF and Professional Development in Prague.

Thank you very much for doing this today. Andrea, just to start out, can you tell us about yourself, how long you’ve been at EFMD, what you do, and where you’re from?

Let’s start with the easy part. I am from Prague, born and bred. This is the Czech Republic, just in case someone wouldn’t know that. And I am now more than three and a half years with EFMD. And since the very beginning, I have been involved in both EDAF, which is part of the Quality Services Department and Professional Development, which is a department of its own. And so this is what occupies me pretty much 100% of my time at EFMD.

And when someone finds out what you do, what is the first question they always ask you?

First off, sometimes I have a hard time explaining to somebody outside of this field or line of work what it is that I actually do. And when we get past this part – me explaining what I do – the question I usually get is whether I get to travel a lot for this work. This was obviously mostly before COVID. So now, this question is not coming up, but I guess it’s slowly picking up again. So, I think I’ll be hearing this one quite a lot still.

EDAF is a part of our quality services that I think a lot of people may not know very much about. Would you like to explain that one a little more?

Sure. So, EDAF has been around for more than ten years now, and the acronym EDAF stands for EFMD Deans Across Frontiers. The thing I would start with when talking about EDAF is that it is not an accreditation. I would say that’s the biggest difference when it comes to EDAF being part of quality services.

EDAF is a mentor-led developmental process which supports and helps schools to get better and achieve their goals or objectives. And simply, I would say, to level up in the current environment of business schools. It’s a process. I would say that’s where the emphasis lies because it takes a long time.

For some schools, it’s kind of the turn-off for this process because when I say long, we’re talking three, four, sometimes even more years. But I would say the end results are worth it. And even though we’re not a big-scale venture of EFMD, I think we actually make a difference. We hear that quite often when the process is finished, and that’s a very rewarding thing because it adds purpose to what we do. So that’s EDAF.

Another important thing is that EDAF usually targets business schools in areas that are not the main areas of membership for EFMD. So we’re talking mostly emerging economies. That’s another interesting part for me personally and another added value for EDAF because, with this, EFMD can be proud and sure that everyone is accounted for in the network.

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

I think that’s great. And what do you like most about your work?

I would say that’s the feeling about a job well done. At the end, of course, but that may be valid for pretty much any job. In this particular line of work, I guess I appreciate the people I get to meet the most, and some of them I even get to know. And it’s very enlightening, and it’s broadening my horizons. That’s one of the most important things to me, not staying put in my little bubble and seeing what is out there beyond what I was thinking is the current state of things. So I guess that’s this part of the job that I really do appreciate the most.

I think we all really appreciate the network and the international aspects especially. And what do you most want people to know about either EDAF or Professional Development or both?

Well, that’s easy, and it relates to both EDAF and Professional Development. It’s simply the fact that they both exist. Because in today’s world, with the information overload, we sometimes struggle to get on everyone’s radar. And it’s a pity because we are doing good stuff, and we have a lot to offer. And I’m sorry to say it like this, but people are really missing out big time.

I agree. We do have, I think, excellent programmes that people should know about. And what are you most proud of in your departments?

Well, here I would answer separately for EDAF and Professional Development. For EDAF, as I was saying, I’m really proud of the actual work we are doing and that I can be sure that we are making a difference. Because the positive feedback comes back often, and it keeps us going and gives us purpose. So that is really important for me in my job to see there is something bigger behind it. There is a deeper meaning or some reason that keeps me and everyone else going.

And for Professional Development, I guess I’m most proud of our versatility because we are trying to come up with new ideas, and that is not always an easy thing to do. What you know is comfortable, and it’s easy if you stick with it. So, I really like that we are trying to come up with new things, and I feel like we succeed pretty often. And that’s a great feeling, too.

Definitely, and for you personally, can you tell me three words that would best describe you?

Yes, I guess it doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% positive because it’s just who I am. So, I would go for caring. I would go for organised, and I would go for stubborn or headstrong. Take your pick.

Being stubborn is not always a bad thing.

Depends. But, yes. Thank you.

I think it can be a very good thing sometimes. And if you could travel in the blink of an eye, where would you go and why?

That’s an easy one. I would want to go to Madagascar. I have always wanted to go, but I have never gotten further than just talking about it. And also, it’s not close to Prague, so if I can skip the actual travel part, that would be perfect. It would save me quite a lot of time and money. And it falls well that you’re asking me right now, beginning of October, because the best time to visit Madagascar is from April to October. So, if the blink of an eye can actually apply in this case, I would be right on time if I could teleport myself there.

That would be an awesome trip. Very interesting. If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

That’s easy. I would spend time reading. Really. I feel like I’m so behind these past few years. And if I look back at myself, I don’t know, 15, 20 years ago, I was reading much more than I am now. And I think it’s a pity. And here, I feel like I am missing out big time.

I also don’t read as much as I used to. I don’t know if you want to talk about this, but you have an interesting side job/hobby with your mom?

That’s correct. Yes, I like to call it a hobby because that means, chances are, I am not going to be fed up with it soon. If I would call it a side job, it might become really too much of a job. So yeah, my hobby is translating books, mostly novels, from French to Czech for one big Czech publishing house. And it’s a hobby because, obviously, I work full-time for EFMD, so my free time is limited to evenings and weekends, so that’s when I usually try to translate.

The good thing here is that, indeed, I am translating with my mom. So, we do every book together, which is actually pretty cool. I don’t know how it is for everyone else, but being a grown-up means that I have a life of my own, and I don’t necessarily have that much time to spend with my family. So actually, being forced in a good way to cooperate with my mom means we get to spend much more time together.

Over the years, we actually got to a point where we don’t argue and shout at each other anymore. And I can assure you it used to be like that sometimes at the beginning because, as I mentioned, I am stubborn and headstrong, and I got it after my mom. So, you can imagine the two of us being together and being 100% convinced about this one expression and what it exactly means. So that’s that. And it’s not like this is what we do for a living. Usually, we translate one, maybe two books per year, but that is more than enough for me and my work-life balance.

And yeah, I guess I’m actually kind of proud of it. Mostly because this was my major – translation interpretation. And, let’s face it, working for EFMD is not necessarily within the scope of my field of study, so I’m actually happy I still get to do something related to my studies. Then I feel like I didn’t spend almost ten years at school for nothing.

I think that’s so interesting and shows all of your language skills as well. So Czech, English and French. Do you know any other language?

Italian. Because I was studying the very interesting field of French philology and normative grammar and linguistics. It was obligatory to take another Roman language. And because Spanish was too obvious, too popular, I went for Italian. But Italian is more like a passive skill. I do understand pretty much everything. It’s very close to French. I am not a big talker. Mostly because I do not practice. But you know, they say these things stay somewhere in your brain. So I hope it’s really there. And if the time comes sometime in the future, I’ll rediscover it.

Awesome. That’s great. And our last question, what’s something you’ve been meaning to try but haven’t gotten around to?

I like the sea a lot, and I was always tempted to try surfing or windsurfing. I think it’s really cool if people can do this, but having no easy access to the sea, given where I am based, it would really require dedicating quite a few vacations to learn how to do this. And that was just never the case for me. But maybe one day I’ll get to it. I would really like that.

I tried surfing once, and it was so much harder than I thought it would be.

That’s why I’m saying quite a few vacations because I don’t really believe that going for one week someplace would do the trick for me. But yeah, I’m still keeping it as, let’s say, a fallback plan for summer vacations.

Sounds good. Thank you very much, Andrea. I enjoyed chatting and getting to know you better.

See more of our staff interview series.