It’s hard to believe that yesterday morning, I was in another country giving a Guest Lecture at one of the biggest universities in Eastern Europe! This event was organized through ESOMAR Next and through their dedication to helping students. I came home quite late in the evening yesterday, (and here I am traveling again!) but started typing out this blog while waiting at my gate for my plane.
In the last two days, I have learned so much but not only about Bucharest and some Romanian history, but about the trends in this region, the people, their lovely hospitality and sense of humour (as well as how dedicated they are to research best practices) but also about the struggle that some academic institutions are facing, like the Academia De Studii Economice.
The University itself is truly an awesome spectacle. From the outside, you can’t see any kind of grandeur at all. Walk through the doors though and you’re in a hallway that looks like something from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry (see picture of the stairs!). And yes, I checked all the portraits and no, the paintings of professors past did not move or talk.
I was lucky enough to speak with the Dean of the Faculty, Calin Veghes who, incidentally, also came to the ESOMAR CEE Forum event the day before (CEE stands for Central Eastern Europe). This in itself is impressive as the students aren’t just getting a professor spouting theory, but someone who is very much up-to-date with the industry and can share his feedback on events directly with the students. Calin told me how, not too many years ago, the Academia De Studiii Economice had 45,000 students, but now they have much less than that. Despite the change in numbers, he was incredibly optimistic about the future, saying how the University will thrive from adapting to the students. He also told me a very familiar tale I’ve heard from my clients about the change that has occurred from ‘student’ to ‘customer’. Calin mentioned that through understanding more about the students, their lifestyles, ways of communication and attitudes, the University have been able to do things like use Facebook, which they know their students also use. It just goes to show that understanding leads to development not just for brands but for organizations even in some challenging times. When I had told the Dean how pleasantly surprised I was by his optimism for the future (considering the student decrease) he, very deadpan, responded that there is simply no other way to be. And this is the attitude, generally, of all Romanians I’ve met in the last two days (and at a conference, you can imagine I got to speak to many people attending from the local area).
So how is the University changing and evolving? Well, just the fact that they had two researchers from the commercial industry there giving talks on case-studies and talking about the life of being a researcher, is a first step. Also, the fact that this was all organized through ESOMAR is common with the way I’ve seen other universities continue to develop with strong bonds with industry and other organizations. Indeed, when I first began to guest lecture at Universities, my first being in Venezuela, I was pleasantly surprised at just how bonded Universities were with commercial businesses, to the benefit of all involved especially the students. The dedication of Calin and the University itself makes me wish I had seen such enthusiasm, passion and integrity when I was at University – I certainly didn’t see any guest speakers from the industry while I was there!
When I entered the lecture theatre for the first time, my first reaction was WOW. A massive space set out like somewhere I’d expect to find the European Union debating a world issue. The room had severity, beauty, authority, history all at the same time. I’ve never spoken in such a beautiful place before. The photos really don’t do it justice!
Sadly though, one of the main spectacles of the room was majority hidden behind the projector so I couldn’t get to see the grand painting which took up the entire front wall of the theatre, but from what I could see, it was amazing. It was an image of history, people labouring bare-foot on the earth and carrying goods to trade. Animals in the background being used for transportation. It was a really cool sight. I’ve since emailed Calin so he can tell me more about it.
So the talks went on and the students interacted with us a little, but it was nice that one student had asked me for my email address. Perhaps an internship for her is on the cards, who knows? I’ve been told today through the ESOMAR representatives over email that the students were inspired by the session and at the very least that’s all I can hope for! I was pleased to recieve an email from Alina Serbanica with a message she wanted to pass onto me from Calin. Alina emailed me and said: “The Dean of the Faculty (prof Calin Veghes) sent me a very nice quote (in Romanian :)) letting me know that he strongly believes that the MR future is the one described by you, with a lot of technology and passion for it and creativeness. He was very much inspired too!” Fantastic, I feel epic!
The entire event from the ESOMAR CEE forum to the University Guest Lecture was carried out professionally, with integrity and enthusiasm and I thank ESOMAR once again for inviting me to share my study and work with the industry at what has now been my 8th ESOMAR event with the Finnish Market Research Day organized with ESOMAR on 10th April being my 9th ESOMAR event! For information on Finnish Market Research Day, (FMRD) check it out here.