Why We Love and Work for EuropeSEVEN BOCCONI ALUMNI WHO WORK FOR VARIOUS EU INSTITUTIONS TELL US WHAT EUROPE MEANS TO THEM
Mario Nava, Director General – Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, European Commission
My high school examination, in June 1985, coincided with the European Council being held at the Sforza Castle in Milano, not far from my high school. That Council laid the foundations for the Single Market, which was enshrined into the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and became a concrete economic and political reality in the following two decades.
While I was preparing for my diploma examination, I devoured all the news I could obtain about what was happening inside the Castle. It was very clear to me that Bocconi, where I was to enroll in September, would help me move from the subtleties of Latin and Greek (wonderful schools of life) to the complexities of European policymaking. The dream took a concrete shape during the years at Bocconi and during my PhD, when I became persuaded that applying for a EU concourse to work in European institutions was the best way to give back to civil society what I had received in my undergraduate and graduate studies.
Twenty-five years have passed since I started working in Brussels on September 1st, 1994. I have seen Europe go from 12 to 28 states (and now, perhaps, decrease to 27), I have seen 5 presidents of the Commission and countless commissioners take office, and I have changed 9 jobs, while remaining in the field of economics and finance, where I was given growing levels of responsibility. But above all I saw Europe, our home, our world, change and improve. Calling, traveling, studying, working, buying, investing, paying are just a subset of the everyday activities that that were almost exclusively national in 1994 and have now become European, thus creating incredible opportunities for everyone, especially for young people. The European Union has ensured the longest period of peace and the highest level of prosperity ever achieved by this Continent, guaranteeing its citizens a lifestyle (limited social inequality, good work-life balance, healthy eating habits, care for the environment etc.) that is envied all across the world. This is not something that can be taken for granted. It is an outstanding result that must be defended and nurtured every day.
Working for European institutions is incredibly exciting. In 25 years, never a dull day! Colleagues offer a wealth of cultures and contacts unimaginable in any national context, which allows for open and constructive discussion. There a common feeling that pervades everyone's behavior and actions. The paradox is precisely this, that cultural diversity drives union of intent, because everybody is united in the pursuit of the public interest. High skills and professionalism make the working environment competitive but in a healthy way. There is no time to abandon oneself to resentment and spite, as can happen in national administrations. I have always perceived working in EU institutions as a great professional fortune, but also as a civic and social duty towards the rest of the population and towards our children and grandchildren. To work for EU institutions one must believe in Europe, one must have the passion for Europe that allows individuals to put their hearts, and not only their brains or expertise, in solving economic and political difficulties. Long live and thank you Europe!
Andrea Enria, Chair of the Supervisory Board, European Central Bank
Working for Europe is in many ways exciting: you find yourself committed to the frontier of the most important debates in public policy, in any possible field; it allows you to work in contact with high-quality peers from all EU countries, providing a formidable contamination of different cultures; despite the often heavy and difficult decision-making process, actual and visible results are obtained. Active participation in the European project makes the job exciting. Jean Monnet said that nothing is possible without men (and women, I would add), nothing is lasting without institutions. Great men and women have worked to achieve the dream of a united Europe. Today more than ever we have the duty to ensure that this dream will last over time.
Guido Bichisao, Director, Institutional Strategy Department, European Investment Bank
After a long experience in finance, institutional affairs and banking at the EIB, I believe that working for Europe in one of its institutions can be qualified by four concepts. Decision by consensus: the decision-making system is based on the principle of checks and balances. The consultation of the internal services of the different institutions that form Europe, allows the weighing of all the aspects to arrive at an articulated decision, even if this requires the search for compromise. International breadth: in addition to working and interacting in multilingual and multicultural environments, a European institution interacts with a multitude of national and international private and public actors. European construction: the international scope enables the serious search for adequate solutions to social, economic, development, and innovation problems which require the understanding of all relevant aspects contributing to the building of a more effective Union. Economic diplomacy: Europe often presents itself as divided in international diplomacy. European institutions work to give more cohesion to Europe’s international profile, by balancing the promotion of the internationalization of our companies with the need to reduce global imbalances that are sources of social and political tension, and promoting European values and standards. Working for Europe means imagining the future and helping to make it better, while knowing that "the future means losing what you have now and see something come into being" (Haruki Murakami).
Maria Bianchi, Economic Analyst at the European Commission, Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs
Career start, personal growth, and overcoming borders: this is what working for the interest of Europe at the European Commission means to me. Career start, because I started out at the European Commission, in a lively international environment placed at the heart of Europe. Personal growth because, in less than two years, I have acquired a profound knowledge of how EU decisions are taken and how the policy positions of the Commission are prepared. I had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and "national experts" from all member states. I am constantly put to the challenge by different points of view and the need to reconcile different opinions to arrive at a final unitary position. Overcoming national boundaries because by living abroad, learning a new language, traveling freely across European cities both for work and leisure has allowed me to consider Europe my true home, and European values my own personal principles. I feel privileged and honored to be part of the European project, not only for the opportunities for personal and professional growth it offers, but above all because I am aware that the ultimate goal of my work is nothing other than working on behalf of the interests and welfare of European citizens.
Guido Fara, Auditor, European Court of Auditors
It was our university, in 2012, that gave me the opportunity to learn about the world of European institutions through a summer internship in Brussels at the Directorate General for Competition. From that experience, I quickly realized that the work does not end with the daily institutional tasks, but represents a tangible example of collaboration and common commitment to solve challenges that are too big for individual Member States.
In my current role as performance auditor at the European Court of Auditors, I question myself every day, alongside committed colleagues from all over the Union, on how to make EU action more effective and its impact on citizens and Member States positive. I am well aware of the need to improve many aspects, but also of contributing to the key role that the Union continues to play in developing a more prosperous, cohesive and conflict-free Europe.
Chiara Landolfo, Advisor to the Director, European Parliament
As a graduate in Management of Public Administrations and International Agencies, working for the European Union was one of the natural professional destinations for my studies at Bocconi. I chose to move to Brussels in 2010, thanks to the Schuman internship program of the European Parliament. I started my professional experience within the administrative offices of Parliament's Communication Department, where I still work overseeing internal control and resource management. Working for Europe means for me contributing to efficient administration, by putting the skills learned at Bocconi at the service of EU institutions in terms of process effectiveness, orientation to results, and accountability. It also means representing my country beyond national borders in a perspective of quality and excellence, by applying rigorous methods of analysis and performance management to be able to communicate the concrete results achieved by the European Parliament. Finally, working for the EU means having direct contact with European citizens, in particular with young people, in order to inform them and make them aware of how crucial it is to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming European elections of 23-26 May.
Alessandro Malchiodi, Policy Officer, European Commission
it is a great honor, and the culmination of a vocation that I cultivated at Bocconi. It is enough for me to close my eyes to find similarities with academic life. There is the need to reconcile different points of view, as in the many work teams we did at the Velodrome that prepared me for this. The dialogue between theory and policy, which brings to memory the almost reverential fear we felt in our professors' offices; and experimentation with the formulation of public policy, which cannot be learnt in textbooks, but must start from economic analysis to be effective. The profitable tension between European and national perspectives, similar to the one that exists between macroeconomics and microeconomics, something that is part of my academic curriculum. The complexity of Community Law, which was broken down for us by teachers who put reasoning ahead of learning rote notions. The engagement with the variety of cultures that give life to the Union, thanks to the languages studied at the language center in via Calatafimi and honed in the Bocconi exchange programs. And fundamentally, also the courage and sensibility that is needed to raise one's hand in a packed classroom in via Sarfatti and venture an answer to a professor's question, similar to the soft skills need to lay out an intuition that could drive a meeting out of an impasse in Brussels!
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