Lockdown Chat #1
Welcome to the first edition of Lockdown Chat, a series where we interview our team about life and work in the time of corona. This month marks a year of working remotely for the staff of the European Youth Forum and we wanted to sit down with our colleagues and have a chat. You know, as we did before at the coffee machine.
For the first edition, we spoke to Eva Cildermane. After starting her new job just before the pandemic, Eva has only ever met her team virtually - so how is she finding life at the Youth Forum?
Hello Eva, it's great to see you today. Can you tell us what you are doing at the European Youth Forum?
I'm the Communications and External Affairs Director. My colleague Inge Brees and I co-manage the External Affairs Department. External and internal communications are a major part of my daily work.
Can you tell us a bit more about it? What do you do on a daily basis?
I co-manage a team of 14 policy officers and communications and events professionals. I aim to make our work efficient, productive, and enjoyable. I attend many meetings with the team members, partners, and external stakeholders to plan, reflect, and strategize. An important item on my agenda is the team’s well-being, especially in these unprecedented times. In my work on communications, our priorities are website and newsletter redevelopment, social media and media engagement, and design and branding. Since January, one of our flagship projects – European Youth Capital – has been rotated into my space. I believe we can take the project to the next level and make it more successful and impactful.
What's the most exciting project you're working on right now?
Oh, there are many of them! But creating a communications plan and promotion strategy for the Youth Progress Index would be the most exciting.
Did you learn anything new while you were working on this project?
Oh, yes. I learned that you can measure progress without considering economic indicators. I have a degree in economics, and I know it's difficult to present concepts if economic indicators are not included. I am very happy to have discovered that there are ways and methods to measure happiness, sustainability, and well-being without incorporating the dollar sign.
Is sustainability an important topic for you?
Yes, it is. And I would say it’s more important than ever. Sustainability comes in different forms and sizes. It’s education, environment, water, and energy conservation, just to name a few. I have studied sustainable urban development, and I can say without hesitation that the program opened up new horizons for me in this field.
Where are you spending the lockdown?
I'm spending the lockdown in my hometown, Liepāja, Latvia. It's a pretty cool place despite the lockdown. Liepāja is situated on the coast of the Baltic Sea – I’m enjoying long walks on the beach and the sunrises and sunsets.
Did you actually study in Latvia?
I got a scholarship and enrolled in law school in Latvia for a year but decided to move on. I did my bachelor's degree in the United States, then a master's degree in Canada. And later on, I kicked off a second master’s degree in the U.K.
You seem to have travelled to many, many places. Can you tell us what you did before coming to the European Youth Forum?
I was working in Silicon Valley for a proptech company called Propy. There I worked on corporate development and communications. What does Propy do? We developed a real estate transaction platform to make real estate transactions speedier and more secure and provided the facility for storing complete transaction information on blockchain. Our client can go online, find a property, do a virtual tour, and buy it with just a click. Yes, just like that!
Since you actually worked in Silicon Valley, I wanted to ask you, what's the biggest difference in working in Europe compared to the US?
Oh, that's a good question. I think that the working style in Europe is more relaxed. In Silicon Valley, everything is about innovation, and there is this fear of missing out. You have to be everywhere and do everything. It seems that people in Europe disconnect from work more often and enjoy their downtime without feeling guilty (laughs).
I'm sure that it must have been quite an experience. Also working in an NGO, coming from the corporate world must be quite different?
I have run my consulting business for seven years and I have consulted companies and organizations of different sizes across the globe. Therefore, the move to an NGO was not a big culture shock.
So, with the coronavirus going on, what do you do in your free time?
I have a dog so I'm spending two, two and a half hours a day outside to walk him. I also enjoy reading. One of the books I read recently was No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer. It's about Netflix’s organizational culture and the way Netflix is operating. I would recommend this book to everyone. I think it's amazing. Also, a friend of mine wrote a book and I'm looking forward to receiving it. It's called Beasts of the Night. It's a novel.
What's a thing you really want to do when the pandemic is over?
I would like to enjoy peace of mind again. Sitting in a sidewalk cafe, enjoying a cup of cappuccino, and watching people pass by.
Connect with Eva on Linkedin