, ,

OK, admitted: In the run-up to this special public speech, I was really nervous. Speaking on public stages in front of large audiences, keynoting, paneling, whatevering, is not new to me; in fact, I feel pretty comfortable doing the stage thing.

But then came this invitation …

The official title of the event alone made me shudder in awe: “INTA Public Hearing on ‘Europe-Asia Connectivity: what is the impact on trade?'” – INTA standing for “Committee on International Trade”, as I found out after some thorough research. The hearing was to be held in front of and physically IN the European Parliament in Brussels, so holy hallways from the finest.

The European Parliament from the inside. Photo: Tobias Dennehy

Plus: “Public Hearing” sounded very much like interrogation to me. But I went for it anyway, as it seemed like the only delinquency I was accused of was apparently being a corporate expert on Eurasian Connectivity in general, and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative in particular. However the EP came to this perception…In any case yet again one of those moments in my career when I asked myself: “How the hell did I get here???”

Seven minutes was the guidance for my statement – and I almost made it in time. What I spoke about? Well, the usual messaging suspects when I talk about this topic: proactive co-creation and mindful collaboration; broadening the view on connectivity (from physical to digital), listening, and changing the perspective (from “us” as givers to “them” as receivers).

It was indeed a lot of fun and highly inspirational in many ways. Especially sharing the stage (which wasn’t really a stage, because we speakers we sitting in the middle of the audience with questions then coming from every direction, a little akward…) with illustre and true experts on the matter like Francois Godement (Advisor on China an Asia at the Institut Montaigne), Thomas Eder, (Research Associate at MERICS), Astrid Skala-Kuhmann (Senior Advisor at GIZ), Ville Varjola (Economic Advisor to the ASIAPAC and Managing Director at EEAS), Wei SHI, (Counsellor at the Political Section of the Chinese Mission to the EU), Maja Bakran Marcich (Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport at the EU Commission), Francesco Rossi (Founder of TechSilu), and Tim de Meyer (Senior Advisor at ILO).

Needless to say, with so many elaborate experts, that it was a looooong event, but hey, if you get the chance to be heard in front of the EU Parliament, you better have some chair glue. I only regret that my words seemed to have struck my left desk neighbour with sheer ennuie and fatigue, sorry about that! 😉