At the upcoming Agora, Teo Šarić, President of the new contact of AEGEE in Split, Croatia, and member of AEGEE-Zadar, is running for the position of Financial Director (FD) of the European Board. The AEGEEan spoke with Teo about his candidature, his different fields of interest within AEGEE and his motivation to become part of the new Comité Directeur (CD)!
Teo: Teo Šarić, a Policy Officer on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) topics, a topic which is really hard to deal with because a lot of hate is shown to the people that identify themselves as different. Not a problem in AEGEE yet, I must proudly say. The President and the founder of AEGEE contact Split. (I do a lot of work with our) 30th Anniversary team, a coordinator of our 30th Anniversary on AgorAsturias where we are going to have a super fancy celebration. Zadar’s coordinator of our Summer University with Bratislava and Maribor and HR responsible in the local.
You are running for Financial Director. Please present your programme in one sentence!
My programme will be to support all kinds of projects and also every body in AEGEE, not only one project or one body, so we in AEGEE need to do more different kinds of projects, not only because we have to, but because we can, which means, for example we miss art projects and projects about human rights (for ex. LGBTI rights and gender equality) and I will do everything what is in my power to do this job as good as I can.
When and why did you come up with the idea to run for a position within the Comité Directeur (CD)? Why did you pick the position of Financial Director specifically?
Well honestly, I knew that I will apply for the position within the Comité Directeur after I started to be a Policy Officer, I knew I can give much more to this organisation. I have chosen this position because it is very connected to my studies, which are very useful for the position of Financial Director. I study on Alma Mater Europaea – ECM’s European Business Studies (Project Management) Master Program and the purpose of my studies is to educate and prepare students to become innovative managers who will lead businesses and create new policies.
In your programme, you state that you plan to “support all kinds of projects“. Can you be a little bit more specific as to what kind of projects are the most important to you?
Of course I will support the projects that are active now, but my opinion is that we need more projects in general, we don’t have anything about art, we don’t have enough projects about human rights (for ex. LGBTI rights and gender equality). We need this in AEGEE a lot, I think. I will try my best to make these projects happen and I think that AEGEE as an organisation has much more potential than we usually think.
You are very active in LGBTI topics and you mention that projects about human rights are an important part of AEGEE. How will you try to combine your work as Financial Director with the involvement in such projects?
A lot of people imagine that finances are a boring job with a lot of bookkeeping, numbers etc, but it really doesn’t have to be, especially when you are trying to help, educate and motivate people who are feeling scared or different. I can start with simple things, you will probably see me wearing different kind of clothes, still official but just different. Even though I am good with the finance, I have very strong statements about every subject, and of course I am not scared to show it, which is in my opinion very important for this position. I am also a member of Rišpet – Dalmatian LGBTI organisation. I will fight my entire life for human rights, as much as I can. We, in my country Croatia, in my region and in the eastern part of Europe in general, need more brave people to fight for their rights and I honestly feel as one of them. One of the reasons why I badly need this position is because it will be a huge step in my career. Yes, it is different from my current position, but as I said my studies are very close to the position of Financial Director, and just because it is different from my current position, however ambitious it sounds, I feel I will move mountains after it. I hope that AEGEE members will recognise that. Even our former Financial Director and my dear friend Anna Gots now works for ILGA – the biggest worldwide federation of 1100 member organisations from 110 countries campaigning for LGBTI rights.
Whilst you write a lot about the contact you founded and your efforts in the LGBTI movements, you do not write a lot about your experiences in the topic of finances. What experiences do you have in the fields of bookkeeping, fundraising or finances in general?
As I already said my studies are very connected with the subject. Maybe some of you don’t know, but AEGEE-Zadar is a small antenna and it was all on the back of three or four of us. We were the only active members, so we had to do everything in it from fundraising, finances, bookkeeping to PR, HR… I mean everything. I was also an HR responsible and I succeeded to bring more new members. I think it is a better situation now. I also started from the bottom when I was establishing a new contact in Split. I included a few friends in it, and now we have around 25 members, and we just started! We already have a space to work in, we started cooperation with the biggest organisations in the region. I did all the work by myself mostly, I have huge amount of great friends and contacts that are always gladly ready to help. I will really try to support more new projects, more new trainings, and involve more members to be interested in the topic.
Just recently, you founded an AEGEE contact in Split, Croatia, and, as you point out in your candidature, you are the President. What will happen to this contact in case you move to Brussels soon?
We have a wonderful cooperation with the Rector and the Prorectors from the University of Split, and I will say big thanks to them even in this way. Thanks also to our board members Ivana, Ivana, Marina, Mia, Sara, Tamara and Tamara for their help. We now have around 25 very talented members from all fields of studies from writing, art, design, IT to law and management and we just started. It really seems that people from Split are interested in AEGEE and I just know that in the future we will be an excellent AEGEE antenna. I will persist to support them, but I am already sure that they can do the rest of the job alone if I get this position. I hope to sign the contract during the Network Meeting (NWM) in Zagreb in April.
The other candidate for Financial Director is already living in Brussels right now and working as a CD assistant. Have you been in the CD house before, too? Have you worked with others who are running for a position within the CD?
I was in Brussels in January with my faculty and we were in the European Parliament and the EU Commission, where I also represented AEGEE externally. I also visited the CD house, sadly only shortly I must say. But I hope to be in it much more in the near future. I know this is not my weakness because I worked and cooperated very well with everyone that applied for the position, all of them. The only reason why someone is a CD assistant and I am not is because I already had a position of a Policy Officer before. Too bad I don’t have more hands to do more tasks. I think this AEGEE generation will be impressive. Aleksandra Klucka (Comité Directeur), Andrea Ugrinoska (AEGEE-Skopje), Antonija Parat (Comité Directeur), Svenja van der Tol (AEGEE-Nijmegen), Anna Gumbau (AEGEE-Barcelona), Réka Salamon (AEGEE-Aachen), Pablo Hernández Rodríguez (AEGEE-Thessaloniki), Mayri Tiido (Comité Directeur), Balazs Kovacs (AEGEE-Debrecen), Ander Guerrero Ruiz (AEGEE-Zaragoza), Maria Arends (AEGEE-Tarragona) and Natalia Ivleva (AEGEE-Voronezh) are just some of the people that I cooperated and worked with, and I hope to do it more in the near future.
In your programme, you mention the names of eleven other AEGEEans, thank them for their inspiration or for working well together with you. Can our readers assume that you are a team player?
Honestly I am a big team player, I have a lot of AEGEE friends and I just had to mention some of them. I was born in Mostar, BiH, during the war so I have lived in Croatia, Split for the most part of my life. As a child I couldn’t even dream of having the opportunity to travel so much, work at this position and meet so many different people. I am always thankful to the people with who I worked well or who have helped me somehow. I will mention it publicly too, for example my dear friend and our Secretary General, Antonija Parat, to support us, the Policy Office, without any mistake ever. That girl is out of this world. I never saw so much positive energy. Also a President of AEGEE-Zadar, Ivana Kovačević, who accepted me in the board in a very sensitive period of my life. I suppose she is very proud of my work, as I am very proud of her loveliness and hard work. In the end my AEGEE role models and my gorgeous friends Marko Grdošić, Luis Alvarado Martinez, Réka Salamon. Seeing you speaking on the stage feeds my hungry melancholic soul. Even though I am a team player, I am also a big solo player, which means that I am not scared to be different and do my own thing. For example, it was only my idea to make a position of a Policy Officer on LGBTI topics in AEGEE and I suggested it, and the CD accepted it. I consider myself a fast learner and a progressive leader. I speak Croatian, English, French and now I’m learning Spanish. It would be an amazing opportunity and also a big gift for me to be the next Financial Director, I will try my best in that position. I hope that AEGEE members will recognise my potential and quality.
One of our readers asked: May you, please, point out the most relevant aspects of your candidature?
After I started to be a Policy officer, I knew I can give much more to this organisation. I have choosen this position because it is very closely connected to my studies (European business studies), which are very useful for the position of Financial director. I will really try to support more new projects, more new trainings, and involve more members to be interested in the topic. We don’t have anything about art, we don’t have enough projects about Human Rights (for ex. LGBTI rights and Gender equality). We need this in AEGEE a lot I think. I will try my best to make this projects happen and I think that AEGEE as an organisation has much more potential than we usually think. Also I will support everyone with a good idea. I will really try my best on that position. I must be honest, after the position I have even bigger plans. I will devote my entire life to fight for human rights, as much as I can. We in my country Croatia, in my region and in eastern parts of Europe in general, need more brave people to fight for their rights and I honestly feel as one of them. One of the reasons why I badly need this position is because it will be a huge step in my career. Yes, it is different from my current position, but as I said my studies are very connected with the position of Financial director, and just because it is different from my current position however ambitious it sounds, I feel I will spread my wings after it. I hope that AEGEE members will recognise that. Even our ex. Financial director and my dear friend Anna Gots now works for ILGA – the biggest worldwide federation of 1100 member organisations from 110 countries campaigning for LGBTI rights. I think that we in AEGEE for the CD need real leaders, not the followers. I consider myself a fast learner and a progressive leader. I hope that AEGEE members will officially regard my potential and quality.
Written by Katja Sontag, AEGEE-Aachen