Veronika Di Luna
SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER | CAMBRIDGE
CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I’m from Estonia but I’ve lived in the UK since 2007. My husband is Italian and my friends are from all over the world, so I live a very international lifestyle. For me, GÉANT is an extension of that. Before GÉANT, I worked in a team where I was the only foreigner and I felt like I had to suppress my background and personality to fit in, whereas GÉANT provides an environment where I can be myself. The last time we counted, staff at GÉANT represented over 35 different nationalities. Therefore, when we work with the entire world and serve the European community, we reflect that diversity which means we can understand them better.
WHAT DID YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE BEFORE GÉANT?
I studied Global Studies International Relations at university while working at American Express. However, I struggled to find a job relating to my studies because nobody could see beyond my American Express finance
experience on my CV. After relocating to Cambridge, I came across GÉANT’s advertisement for a Finance Administrator role dealing with EC funding and many international projects. I was so happy when they confirmed my application was successful because I knew that while I still had one foot in finance, the other foot was in something international. From day one I was excited in GÉANT’s activities and the opportunities to grow, and I can say that I’ve been on a very exciting career journey in the international projects environment ever since.
HAS THE FLEXIBLE WORKING ENVIRONMENT PROVED USEFUL FOR YOU AND HOW?
I have two kids who are one and a half and six years old and they were both born while I’ve been at GÉANT. It’s incredibly hard being in any job to manage full time work and two little kids, however employers have the choice to create extra obstacles and pressure, or they can work around the reality of young parents. In the time when my children were particularly young, GÉANT have been very understanding and adapted my role to suit my family’s needs. This made my return after maternity leave so much easier. As a young mother I wanted to prove to myself that I can manage everything, but looking back I am very grateful to my senior colleagues who advised me to take on as little as possible initially.
GÉANT’s flexibility also means if my child has an appointment during the day I can attend, but of course it never comes at the expense of my work quality. All GÉANT staff are entitled to childcare vouchers and a generous amount of annual leave, however parents get extra days to make allowances for when your children are sick. I find it empowering to know that your employer is so supportive and understanding.
WHY ARE THE GÉANT VALUES IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Personally, I believe it is incredibly important to be aligned with your company’s values, and for me our value of innovation means the most. Being a non-technical person, I see the meaning behind it in two different ways. It can be the work of my extremely smart colleagues (who I am in awe of) who create these amazing technical advances, but it can also come from other areas, such as being innovative in how we help staff be the best version of themselves, which really makes GÉANT stand out from other companies; and the support that women receive returning from maternity leave alongside the dedication to gender equality and our green policy is also hugely innovative.
During the pandemic GÉANT embraced flexible working and even provided staff with home working equipment. They also adapt and refresh the office environment to ensure staff are happy and want to stay at GÉANT. To me this is all different types of innovation.
“I like the not-for-profit nature of GÉANT. For me it’s important that what we do contributes to the well-being of people and the world, as opposed to making money for people who have too much already.”
FOR YOU, WHAT MAKES GÉANT DIFFERENT TO OTHER COMPANIES?I like the non-for-profit nature of GÉANT. For me it’s important that what we do contributes to the well-being of people and the world, as opposed to making money for people who have too much already. That would be against my values but GÉANT is the place that genuinely cares for global well-being.
WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE A VALUED MEMBER OF GÉANT?
I’m in a special period of my life trying to balance family life with work. Senior management have been very understanding, which has resulted in my workload and expectations being adapted to suit my current circumstances. However, eventually my children will grow up and I will be able to to give more focus to my work. This is where trust comes in and people are treated as adults. You aren’t here just to tick a couple of boxes, and this principle is something other employers across Europe need to take on.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WONDERING IF GÉANT LIFE IS FOR THEM?
Why would you not want to work for an organisation that cares for your well-being, gives you opportunities to develop, has great flexibility and does some good for this world? I think it’s for anyone, except perhaps those who are driven purely by commercial sales targets.
Veronika was born in Estonia and moved to the UK in 2007. She graduated from the University of Sussex and the University of Vienna with a MA in Globalisation, Ethnicity and Culture. In 2014 Veronika started working for GÉANT in the Finance department and after three years joined the International Relations team.