The European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) came together in Prague, Czechia, October 4-6, 2021, for a very special strategy meeting to discuss the past, present, and future of the organisation. The gathering included the EARMA Board, EARMA Executive office, Standing Committee representatives, ERION group representatives, course trainers, and other active EARMA members to meet and share their thoughts.
The event kicked off with a drinks reception and dinner at the hotel venue in Prague city centre before two days of presentations, meetings and discussion. We were joined by colleagues from right across Europe, many of whom will be familiar to our EARMA community, to ensure that we had a representative mix to contribute to the upcoming agenda.
On the first day of meetings, we were welcomed by EARMA Chair, Evelina Brännvall, and EARMA Managing Director, Nik Claesen, who gave those gathered an insight into the operations of the Association. The welcome was then followed by a history of the organisation with former Chair, Jan Andersen. Later that morning, the EARMA Executive office staff presented on their relevant areas and took questions relating to operations.
The group then took a walking tour across the magnificent city of Prague with Czech local and EARMA member Jaroslav Sip. This brisk walk was enjoyed by all and was the perfect way to take in some fresh air while enjoying the sites of the historic Old Town. Luckily, the walkers were also able to avoid the rain in an otherwise grey week.
Following this excursion, to familarise the attendees with the relevant people, presentations took place introducing the EARMA Board and Standing Committee members with some fun facts about each individual’s life and interests. This section of the agenda was then followed by discussions to set strategic goals for each group within EARMA. After these fruitful conversations, those gathered then set out on the town for a lovely evening.
During the second day, the EARMA groups came together in the morning to conduct their first face to face meetings in almost two years. We then later received a presentation from the EARMA Professional Development and Recognition Committee Chair, Astrid Vigtil, on the progress of EARMA’s courses. This section was then followed by a surprise gift giving ceremony for those who have made a significant impact by dedicating their time and knowledge to the Association. Following this, we heard again from Jan Andersen with a presentation on leadership.
So what next for EARMA? Nik Claesen outlined the plans for the organisation's future - to be the best association of research managers in the world. This inspiring discussion was the perfect preparation for an open mic session in which attendees shared their thoughts and ideas going forward. We received some important feedback relating to communications, policy and the direction of EARMA that will be very beneficial for planning.
The final portion of the agenda was a BBQ on the beautiful rooftop terrace of the Prague hotel with a farewell speech from Evelina Brännvall followed by campfire stories. The remaining attendees shared their funniest stories, many of these were around weird and wonderful experiences relating to our recent migration to virtual ways of working in line with the theme “Zoomed out in Prague”.
We would like to thank everyone who attended this event. Your contribution is greatly appreciated and will be instrumental in shaping the future of EARMA. We would also like to say a special thank you to Johanna Roodt, EARMA’s Community and Events Officer, for organising such an enjoyable and productive time in Prague.