Yesterday (May 9th) was Europe day! A day to “celebrate peace and unity in Europe”. Celebrated on the day of the Schuman declaration, this day is a perfect opportunity to think about European and international collaboration. The theme is focused on 60th anniversary of the European Union as it is today.
One of the best parts of working at an agency such as Sparks & Co is the opportunity given to us to either travel or to meet people from all over Europe (and sometimes beyond!). I have a personal interest in collaborating with people from different countries. As one of the only non-French people in the office (so far!) it is interesting to learn about different cultures, values and languages both in my daily work interactions, but even more so through my interactions at events and with proposal partners. So far I have worked with people from Italy, Spain, France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Belgium, to name just a few!
With the political climate more turbulent than ever, fostering good collaboration between different countries and cultures is incredibly important to help solve humanity’s greatest challenges! I decided to ask around the offices to find out why the different people at Sparks & Co felt it was important to maintain good international collaboration:
Camille Cocaud (Founder and CEO): International collaboration is the only way European research can become competitive against other “research giants” with larger populations, such the US and China
Joy Cremesty (European Project Communication Officer): International collaboration provides a broad access to researchers to facilities and information and it increases the impact and exposure of the project.
Caroline Estephan (European Communications Manager): International collaboration is the key to understand each country’s local specifics and build a relevant communication strategy that maximizes the impact of the research projects.
Julien Santin (Digital Marketing): Digital marketing best practices and tools change very fast. It is crucial to collaborate internationally to be able to learn from the best experts in a given field quite often and without the need of being physically with them
As is the norm here on our blog, we have some tips to give you on how to maintain good international collaboration in EU projects!
1. Do some research
It is important to know (especially as a coordinator) where your partners are coming from! This 1. Shows an interest in your colleagues and 2. Allows you to manage the team to the best of your ability. People from different countries have many different assets they can offer, knowing a little bit about the country they come from can yield some good ideas! So take a little bit of time to make sure that your partner is from Belgium not Belarus, your Swiss colleagues are eligible to be a part of the consortium and that The Republic of Ireland is not in the UK (this one comes from personal experience!).
2. Be time-aware.
Aligning work processes over differing time zones can be a complicated aspect of working in international projects, luckily in Europe people are never too far ahead (or behind). Good time management and robust project management by the coordinator are crucial to making sure that everyone can deliver on time and in a relaxed setting. Manage your time and be aware of other’s time-constraints.
3. Use language wisely
It is easy for me as a native English speaker to communicate with international partners, as the common EU language happens to be English (lucky for me!). This common language is not to alienate or to exclude people, but is there to ensure that international cooperation is possible. If you have partners from Spain, Norway and Romania there is no way that each partner will know all the languages of the other partners! The tip here is to try and include everyone by using a language that everyone can understand, speak slowly and avoid too much slang. I have, however, introduced some choice phrases into the office (it is funny to hear your French boss asking you the very Irish saying: “What’s the craic?”1 !)
In celebration of this day of international cooperation and collaboration why not head to a Europe Day event near you?
So do you think international collaboration is important? Have you been in a situation where collaboration with international partners has been complicated? Let us know your thoughts, and if you would like to be a part of a collaboration with Sparks & Co send us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 A common Irish saying meaning “what’s up?”, “what’s going on?” or simply used as hello! http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/craic
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