Theodora is from Romania and has spent the majority of her life living in different countries – United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Spain. As someone who loves to challenge herself and is curious about people and storytelling, Theodora spent the last five years working in the communications industry, gaining experience both in the private and public sectors. Seeking ways to make an impact not only on businesses but also on people, she now works as a Communications Officer at the European Union Satellite Centre. Theodora is an alumni of both IE University (Class of 2014) and IE Business School (Masters in Management, Class of 2017) and currently resides in Madrid.
Q&A WITH THEODORA
I’m curious by nature. I am interested in different topics and industries – from entertainment to politics, real estate, or outer space. I chose Communications because it seemed the most complete. It allowed me to learn about marketing and journalism, while at the same time exploring topics like corporate communications, international affairs, globalization, minorities, or multi-media. Fun fact: We were the second graduating class of IE University.
There are a lot of memories to share.
On one hand, we have the big events—the Ski Trip to Andorra or the IE balls and Halloween parties. On the other hand, I fondly remember the smaller things like late nights of studying with friends, breakfasts on campus or the endless car rides between Madrid and Segovia. It’s not so much the moments you remember, but the feelings you had in those four years.
IE’s most valuable asset is the diversity among its students. This experience alone enriches you both personally and professionally and allows for a well-rounded approach and understanding of any business situation. Also, IE works on both technical and soft skills. Its methodologies allow students to not only learn in classrooms but apply the knowledge, from the beginning to real industries and companies. This hands-on experience was instrumental in preparing me for the professional jump.
To a big extent, the IE alumni community shaped the person I am today. I am truly inspired by the journeys and career paths of my colleagues, who prove that the sky is indeed the limit.
Professionally, it is through the IE alumni community that I jumpstarted my career. When graduating from university, I was approached by former students for the opportunity to work in their tech startup. I took it gladly. It is also thanks to the IE community that I started working in the advertising industry at MRM McCann, and became an associate professor for the Strategic Planning/ Integrated Marketing Communications courses of the IMC specialization.
Stay curious, be brave and take risks. You don’t need to have it all figured out on day one. What’s important is to be open-minded, explore new fields, and challenge yourself. Whether that’s by joining new clubs/teams, exploring new fields, or doing an exchange program… do whatever you can to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and learn new things.
Be open about your passions, goals, and objectives. Teachers and students are a pot of knowledge and opportunities.
I am currently a Communications Officer at the European Union Satellite Centre – an intergovernmental agency of the EU that provides security and defense-related products through the exploitation of relevant space assets and collateral data, like satellite imagery.
In many ways, it was about being in the right place at the right time. I was looking for a career change and have always been inspired by international organizations. Perhaps because my parents, and grandparents, worked in this field, or because it always felt like you were working towards a bigger and more significant impact. It just so happened that they were also looking for a communications expert that was coming from the private sector and could offer a new perspective and modus operandi. It was a perfect match!
The hiring process was pretty standard. I applied through their careers portal and went through two rounds of interviews. The first is a written exam and the second is an interview in front of a panel.
This year, the European Union Satellite Centre is celebrating 30 years of activity. In celebration, we hosted various high-level visits and events at the Centre. I am currently working on a 30-panel exhibit to be hosted in Brussels at the European Council in the Justus Lipsius Building. The exhibit will display some of our most recent geospatial analysis works. It’s been both a challenge and a learning experience preparing the designs, panels and products, and organizing the story flow for the event.
Professor Ibrahim Al-Marashi, my former international relations teacher, was key in making this happen. Ibrahim, along with two other professors, teaches the class on “Interplanetary Relations”. It’s a first-of-its-kind, dynamic course that covers the history of the space program and engages students in the complexities of space governance. Through an interactive simulation, students are divided into teams, representing different space players, and work together to simulate how different countries strategize and make decisions about global governance.
Professor Al-Marashi was kind enough to invite me to speak to the class, discuss the role and activities of the European Union Satellite Centre, and provide an EU-focused perspective on space policies and programs.
It is important to not only train your hard and technical skills but your soft ones as well. To be an effective communicator, you must be empathetic. To put yourselves in the shoes of others, to understand what the story is and what people are intrigued by. In my specific industry, you also have to get creative in the way you tell the story.
Know your strengths and what you can bring to the table. The rest you can figure out on the way.
Family and friends are my biggest motors in life. My curiosity as well – you’ll find me watching documentaries on the most random topics.
My passport is without a doubt the most valuable thing I own. It’s my ticket to the world, the bridge to my family and friends, and without a doubt, my access to new cultures, countries, and traditions. I might not like flying, but I love visiting new places and learning new things.
I’m an open book, so there’s not much that would surprise my family and friends. Except, perhaps the fact that I played the violin since the age of three. I stopped taking classes (thankfully) when I turned seven. Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of giving it another try.
According to my friends, “most likely to follow the rules” and “most random facts-savvy person”.