A role with many hats - MCAA Magazine March 2022
Valentina Ferro was happy to serve as MCAA vice-chair for a second term. She talks to us about her role and her experiences before and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you ask Valentina Ferro what it was like to serve as MCAA vice-chair, she will likely mention the many hats she has happily worn to help MCAA achieve its goals. This is one of the things she loved the most about her role.
“I had the opportunity to explore and learn many new skills. One day I would be interacting with members, gathering their feedback to improve our website. The next day I would be leading the taskforce for our virtual conference, juggling many complex tasks at any given time from gathering quotes for software, identifying solutions, and coordinating between different stakeholders,” she explains.
Serving as a mediator was a privilege since she could smoothly facilitate the communication and exchange of information between the different MCAA members.
Looking back at the highlights of the past two years, Valentina is proud to have learned to trust. “Showing vulnerability has empowered me and the people I worked with to trust each other, to connect to a deeper level and to better understand the challenges ahead and how to solve them. In my previous term, I was known for always sharing my opinion during meetings. This time around, I tried to listen more,” she says.
BEFORE AND AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Having served as the MCAA vice-chair for two mandates, Valentina’s experience has been rather unique in the sense that she worked behind the scenes of the MCAA before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is something that worked to her advantage. She says: “I feel that despite the odds, and thanks to the unbelievable commitment of the current Board, MCAA has proven to be a mature organisation. We have shown our members and ourselves that, with a common mission, we can really overcome big challenges. The complications that the pandemic has created for us made our work extremely interesting and valuable.”
According to Valentina, MCAA currently boasts an excellent reputation within the European research arena. All thanks to the achievements of the past two years. “We have managed to be an ever-present voice for researchers and scientists. And during difficult times like the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been a current source of support and career development opportunities. We have done all by maintaining the highest standards when it comes to sustainability and accessibility, thus aligning our every activity to the core values that we believe in,” she says.
Looking back at her own accomplishments as MCAA vice-chair, Valentina is particularly pleased with the virtual conferences. She recalls all the hard work that went towards the organisation of the first virtual conference. “I coordinated the overall organisation of the conference, leading a committed and talented team that worked behind the scenes of the programme, identifying our technical needs and setting boundaries so that we would not be overwhelmed by the amount of content but instead focusing on the quality of that content,” she adds. This work has been recognised and awarded by the collaboration established between the involved members. Valentina feels thankful. She says: “I’m always floored by the commitment of MCAA active members: they really are the heart of the association!”.
INVESTMENT IN QUALITY TIME
Addressing her successor, Valentina recommends (above all) to have fun! Dealing with the day-to-day activities of the association is of course part of the vicechair’s tasks, but Valentina emphasises the importance of dedicating time to an MCAA activity that particularly matters. “For me, it was the virtual conference and laying the ground for future virtual or hybrid conferences to come. But it can be anything, as long as it is fun and gives you the right motivation to move forward when things might become overwhelming,” she notes.
In the end, the best advice Valentina can offer is simple. Join the MCAA! “If you play an active role, you’d be surprised by the amount of support, encouragement and resources MCAA can provide,” she concludes.
MCAA Editorial Team