Ana Crespo Parrondo is a Communications and Press Specialist in European and International Affairs. She is currently employed as the Assistant to the Director for Media & Communication at the Council of the European Union (EU) in Brussels.1. Why did you want to be a talent in the Women Talent Pool program?
At this point of my career, I very much value being part of a network where I can learn from others – in this case young talented women - who perhaps encountered the same type of difficulties in their own professional lives and who also want to break the glass ceiling, get a new job or evolve in their careers. I have the feeling that we are empowering, supporting and helping each other through the WTP.
I am a member of several networks that are based in Brussels where I live and elsewhere as well, but I was very much looking forward to applying to this program because I knew that I will have the opportunity to meet incredible European talents. 2. You mentioned that you are part of several networks. Is the WTP different from the others? If so, why?
The WTP is standing out for two main reasons. First, it is an international and crosscutting network dedicated to women talents working in different sectors, whereas the other networks I am part of, are open to male and female members, but are mainly focus on a very specific area of interest. So, the women talent pool offers a broader perspective thanks to the talents who have diverse mindsets, academic backgrounds, and work in so many different fields, and this is for me very enriching.
I for instance work in communications in a European institution but I met emerging leaders who work in telecoms in London or Paris or in other EU institutions in Brussels. This is the added value of this program.
Second, I am attending numerous conferences, receptions and network events throughout the year, and I realized that the content is in many cases repetitive and you ask yourself what was the real added value of this evening. Therefore, what I value in this program is that you get to know your peers and the WIL members and even build a relationship with them. Each gathering is different. This way, you get to have and be part of a community that will last longer than just the duration of the program. You don’t get this by simply attending other individual events.3. Talking about the value of this program. We are now half way through it. Could you please tell me what you liked so far and share an example of a session that you enjoyed the most?
The Public speaking workshop at Hill & Knowlton in London was one of my favorite sessions. The workshop was very focus, well organized and synthetized in a way that all of us could get food for thought out of it.
I also very much enjoyed the speed dating sessions with the WIL mentors. I had the opportunity to discuss about future career plans and many other topics with my peers and various senior members. You don’t have this opportunity very often, therefore I really appreciated it.4. What are your expectations for the future? What would you like to see in the second half of this 18 months’ program?
It would be great to have a session to teach us how to be more confident and resilient; a workshop on mindfulness for instance. I also think that another session should be dedicated to improving soft skills such as negotiation or leadership.5. What do you think this program brought you personally and professionally?
I think that personal and professional are mixed here because this network doesn’t really make a distinction. When you meet your peers, you also get to know them personally: where they work and what they do. It is not a question of what they can give you but more about exchanging human values on a different dimension. Thus, I gained a lot of learnings to apply to my professional career and personal live. I also hope to keep in touch with as many as I can through WIL social media outlets and more specifically the LinkedIn group, to start building a real community and relationships that can last for longer.6. On a more personal level: could you please describe in a few words your current position and what you like about it?
I currently work at the office of the Director for Media and Communications at the Council of the EU. I’ve been working for that institution for the last 5 years, holding several positions within communications.
This work experience has been tremendously valuable for me. It is a privilege not only to work in the fields of my studies and the ones I’m passionate about, Communications and European politics, but also to do it inside the General Secretariat of the Council serving two of the most political EU institutions: the Council of the EU and the European Council. My work during these last five years has been extremely diverse, from dealing with media relations, analyzing the daily news, speaking to visitors’ groups to publishing press material on the official website or on social media accounts. I enjoy very much what I do.
I have been fortunate to be part of the press taskforce teams covering the last two multilateral summits (Africa 2014 & CELAC 2015). I enjoy very much greeting external visitors (media, citizens…) to our premises and explaining to them what we do and how we work. Those two times were exceptional and a real boost of energy. I remembered running across the corridors to ensure official press from different delegations were reaching the photo opportunities with their leaders. Those moments are difficult to forget you see how their national TVs used their footage on that day.7. What skills do you need to be successful in your position?
My main role is kind of “a chameleon”. I need to adjust and adapt myself quickly to the different positions, facilitate the job of my superior and be a team builder among my colleagues. My role is to solve the problems, give information, move things and communicate in the most effective way across all the teams. Be open to new challenges and don’t be shy, speak up your mind.
My motto is to preserve the image and reputation of my institution and my communications service, so I take that as my daily responsibility.8. How do you see yourself in the future?
I always say that there is a lot to learn and with perseverance lots of things can be achieved. My experience working with many highly professional colleagues, and especially next to managers, has been of extreme value for my future career. I would like to progress in the field of communications managing projects and specific policy portfolios and those leadership and negotiation competences will certainly help to that end9. Any piece of advice?
Be open to change, don’t be afraid of failures. Persevere in what you do. The most valuable thing you can tell yourself is that you have done a good job and that you are the only one who can value and credit that. Never stop fighting to get what you want. And if you fail, always tell yourself that there will be an opportunity standing behind if you keep on working.