Team of the Month 03/19: “Presidents’ Talk” organization team

On October 9, 2018, WU had the honor of welcoming the president of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the president of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska, to Campus WU. During the “Presidents’ Talk” in the Audimax auditorium, the three national leaders discussed the future of Europe with students and other members of the public.

This extraordinary event was made possible mainly thanks to the outstanding efforts of a highly motivated project team, consisting of Karin Siedl and Sonja Smiderer (Event Management), Johann-Wolfgang Hörtl, Philipp Laurenz Amon-Luger, and Franz Buresch (Safety and Security Management), Angelika Joassart (Teaching Coordination), Christopher Posch (Marketing and Communications) and their teams, along with Maria Manhardt (Institute for European and International Law).

The project team cooperated very successfully with the event’s initiators – the Austrian Society for European Politics (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik, ÖGfE) and WU’s Institute for European and International Law (where Alice Pohl also made a major contribution to this project).

“This event was particularly demanding with regard to organization, communication, and security. A well-structured coordination process within the project team helped us ensure that the event went smoothly for our guests and media representatives. We were also very pleased by the positive press coverage of the event, which confirmed WU’s position as a space for dialog and exchange,” said Christopher Posch.

This large-scale project presented the event team with a number of major challenges in September and October 2018. These included the increased security demanded by the offices of the three presidents, coordinating a wide variety of organizational and technical issues, drafting comprehensive, detailed scheduling plans, and complying with a strict protocol both before and during the event. The Audimax and large parts of the Teaching Center building had to be secured, for example, without interfering with teaching operations, and that at the start of the winter semester. The project team also had to provide the required infrastructure for a TV camera team in the Audimax and find space for a cloakroom for 650 guests. They also needed to organize a holding room for the presidents and their teams and a live broadcast to the Library & Learning Center for additional viewers, as well as many additional challenges that needed to be solved in a short time.

Thanks to the team’s professionalism, commitment, and outstanding efforts, this important event went off smoothly in spite of the very limited time frame for the necessary preparations and was a great success, resulting in a considerable echo in the Austrian media. For Maria Manhardt, the opportunity to hear a group of national leaders talk about their own personal views on the EU (and life) was an extraordinary experience.