In my first year as External Relations Officer at the WHO office in Brussels, I had the good fortune to interview the European Commission’s Director-General for Health, Sandra Gallina, on her approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms Gallina and I both started our careers as language interpreters, and through different roads, our paths intersected in the field of EU policy-making and public health. For my part, it was the LSE, and especially the European Institute, that accelerated my entry into the world of European Public Policy.
Thanks to LSE, I have been able to build on my skills and experience to translate ideas into policy and, in turn, into impact at EU level. My LSE education earned me a place interning at the European Commission in the field of digital innovation, which later helped me find a job at the global association for mobile network operators (GSMA) where I engaged with top policy-makers at the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council. With the areas of expertise that I have garnered, I am able to contribute to the development of health and wellbeing at the WHO Office to the EU.
LSE formed a big part of my personal development - and it still does, because here in Brussels we have a very strong and diverse alumni community. I now enjoy the daily challenge of breathing life, substance and fun into the local alumni association; as well as representing a Brussels point of view in the global LSE alumni network. I am honoured to be able to lead the organisation of the group’s activities as its President. In this capacity, I have had the privilege of collaborating with colleagues at CERN, Geneva on a book about the unsuspected real-world and near-term benefits of big and long-term science, and in my humble opinion, we were ahead of the policy curve in discussing approaches to science that we can now see in the EU Horizon Europe programme.
We all need roots. Not only geographical roots (for me that means Greece and, specifically, Thessaloniki) but roots in virtual places. LSE is important not just for what I learned there, but for the values that make us more than just an alumni network. I have so much admiration for the ethos of our School - LSE alums are a community of intent, and we want to shape the world and make it a better place.
There is hard work along the way. However, I very much endorse what the LSE Director, Baroness Minouche Shafik, recently wrote about the role of luck in our career successes. Every day I feel lucky to have become a member of the LSE community.