Category Archives: Personal

The stuff that shows we’re real people

Moving

Not from London, or even moving house. Just moving the blog to my own domain http://www.euonym.eu Please come and visit me there. And if you have any ideas on how to transfer this blog over (the import/export tool doesn’t seem to work) that would be good too!

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Filed under Digital/social media, Personal

2011 in review – back at my desk

There’s been a bit of a hiatus in the blogging while I was on holiday in Mexico for three weeks. There was so much to say there, I could have written every day, but I thought that most of you probably wouldn’t be that interested. All I’ll say is that Mexico is a fabulous destination, if you are careful about where you go. The food is amazing, the people lovely and the weather significantly better than here!

Anyway, best wishes for 2012 to anyone reading this. In blogging terms, here’s a summary of 2011.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Off-topic: Well done Greenwich Council

It’s easy to take to Twitter or a blog when something is getting you down (you know who you are…Southeastern Rail) so I thought I would buck the trend by noting when something has gone right. I left my house yesterday morning (bin day in our street) to be confronted by clothes, shoes and bags strewn across the pavement – someone doing a little light fly-tipping. I went back in and went onto the Greenwich Council website and reported it via the online form. The automatic email I got said they would deal within 3 working days, but within 10 minutes I had a reply from someone saying they would send out a van to clear it away. When I went back outside I realised that whoever was responsible for the mess had also nicked one of my wheelie bins. Back inside, to call Greenwich Council and order a new one. All sorted, and he was very apologetic that it would take 2 weeks to get it to me. Within 15 minutes all was sorted, and when I got home last night, they had come by and taken away the mess. Good on you Greenwich. All that and weekly bin collections as well 🙂

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Filed under Living in London, Personal

Goodbye media, hello communication

As of tomorrow, my role in this office will change. I will no longer be the head of media, dealing with the press, TV, radio, agencies and online journalists that I have dealt with in the last 3 and a bit years. Instead I will be responsible for our publications, websites and digitial media, relations with NGOs and the voluntary sector, foreign languages, information networks and parts of England outside London. I hope this new post will give me a bit more time (and, to be honest, some renewed enthusiasm) for this blog. Time will tell…

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Filed under EC in UK, Personal

Where my career has taken me

More graphic madness today. I’m doing a careers presentation at Leicester University next week and in an affort to make it a bit more viewer-friendly, I put together a Google map of everywhere I have visited around the world in a professional capacity. My favourite is the one right at the top – Svalbard. What an amazing place…

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Filed under EU Careers, Personal

Women in the Commission

Some interesting stats have come my way relating to women in policy grades and management positions in the European Commission. I find them particularly interesting because they start the first year I joined.

The first table refers to all policy grades.

Women in policy grades in the EC

When I joined 23.9% of policy grade post-holders were women and now 41.6% are. So that’s a clear improvement. It’ll be interesting to see if the introduction of the new format entrance exams affects those figures in the future.

Next table is women in middle management, that is heads of section, deputy heads of unit and heads of unit. I’m not sure whether my current position as head of sector in a rep counts as a middle management job, but this is the kind of job I would expect to have when I leave London in a few year’s time.

Women in middle management in the EC

This shows that women are under-represented at middle management in the Commission. This is of course logical, as the figure for women in middle management in 2010 is broadly the same as the figure for all policy grade women in 1995. As it takes about 10-15 years to work your way up to those grades, that makes sense (at least on one level). Will that trend continue? Will it take to 2025 to see 40% of middle management posts occupied by women?

The final graph is women at senior management level, that is Director, Deputy Director-General, Director-General.

Women in senior management posts in EC

Here growth has been steeper, aside from the drop in 2004, which is probably due to new senior level posts and occupants from the new entrant countries (I don’t know whether they have a better or worse record on equality, though the figures suggest “worse” at least at senior level). While 22% certainly looks a lot better than 4%, it still means that 78% of jobs are going to men.

Clearly the overall situation has improved. But there is still a way to go for young women in policy grades to feel that they have role models in the upper echelons. The Commission has undoubtedly sought to introduce policies that allow a better reconciliation of work and family life (flexi- and tele-working, discouraging late evening meetings etc) but I still have the feeling that this is only dealing with some of the problem. Work/life balance affects women, certainly, but men have children too, and also have a lot to gain from family-friendly HR policies. And not all women have children. Encouraging women to apply for senior positions, and having a system in place that recognises a variety of experience and approach (rather than having a specific-shaped peg in mind) are both important as well.

I’m sure there are more profound things to say about these figures, and I’d like to hear them.

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Filed under Management, Personal

Off-topic: LSE reunion call for music

Not strictly speaking about the EU, this one, but I need a way to get input and isn’t that what a blog is for!

I’ve been asked to DJ at the LSE 1990-1994 reunion this summer and I want to make sure that I play what people want to hear. So, if you were at LSE between 1988 and 1994, what were the tunes you heard in the Tuns? What was played at that great Tequila party? What were the sounds of the Underground? Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

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Taking a break

So, having sat at this desk for much of the glorious summer, I am heading off for two weeks holiday, just as it turns to autumn…never mind…

See you back here in two weeks for more fun and games!

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Off-topic: Beagledors

One of the most common search terms that brings people to this site is, surprisingly, “beagledors”, because of this post in 2008. And maybe this one. Oh and possibly this one. Anyway, obviously there are lots of people interested in Beagledors, so I thought I’d give them something today: the most recent pic I have of Bailey, the Beagledor who started it all off.

Photo by Jon Boyle. All rights reserved.

PS In case you think I am exaggerating, I just looked at the list of top search terms for this blog and “beagledor” is top. By quite a long chalk. And there are 4 beagledor-related terms in the Top 20.

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Working for a living

This week is clearly careers week. I don’t think I’ve done a single careers talk since I arrived, and I’m doing two this week. On Monday we had someone from EPSO, our recruitment service, in the Rep holding open sessions for graduates (or soon-to-be-graduates) on the new round of recruitment and the new system. I was there to give a bit of a personal view of working in the Commission, describing my career path, and of course answering questions. The experience of new aspirants to an EU career will be a bit different from mine, as they will be taking tests designed to test competence and not knowledge. So no more questions about how many traffic accidents were there in the EU, or what is the weight of printer paper (both terrifyingly examples of questions in past competitions!). I was only at the final session of the day, but it was striking how many of the people who came along were from other Member States. Apparently this was less the case earlier in the day, but it raises yet again the issue I mentioned at Abingdon about the spectre of a loss of UK influence within the EU institutions.

Tonight I’m going to City University to talk to their Sociology MA candidates about possible careers for social science students. Given that I did a social science Bachelors and am starting a Sociology MA at City in September, it seems a shoe-in for me to do!

So, if I’m having to stand up in front of people and encourage them to consider a career here, I have obviously have had to think about what makes it a career I enjoy. So here is a purely personal look at the main things:

1) I love being able to use languages on a daily basis (and so that’s something I really miss here). As a spokesperson I got to do interviews in French and English, brief journalists in those languages and German and improve my minor languages by reading the press cuttings. Really made all those years of language learning worth it.

2) I’m a bit of a butterfly (5 different posts and 4 houses during my 15 years in Brussels), so working for an organisation with such a broad range of subjects means I can imagine about a lifelong career without worrying about getting stuck in a rut.

3) Leading on from that, there’s something for everyone. If you’re a really technical type, whose life revolves around widget regulations, then you can spend your whole career on widgets. If you want to move around a lot you can. There are many jobs giving an overview of a broad policy area, and many that are highly specialised.

4) The calibre of people you work with, both within the Commission/other institutions and their broader ecosystem of trade assocations, think tanks, law firms etc is very high. So intellectually it’s an amazing environment to be in. Like university with better food…

5) There is a strong element of idealism. I came to the view when I was a teenager that it is in our continent’s best interests to work together, and I was happy to be given the chance to work daily to make that happen.

I’m sure if I sat down for a beer and talked about this, more would come up, but that’s it for the moment. If any of this strikes a chord with you, why not apply for one of the recruitment competitions coming up? If you’re on Facebook you can follow developments via the EU Careers fan page.

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Filed under Coming Week, EC in UK, EU Careers, Languages, Personal, Youth