Athina Zampara – Part 2 – Leveraging Your Skills in Project Management

In part 2 of this week’s interview, Athina Zampara tells her story of investing in learning as an adult and of building her CV to eventually find a position in the European Commission, where she now oversees projects offering support to PhDs and researchers around the globe.

Athina Zampara comes from Greece and has lived and worked in Brussels, Belgium, for 10 years. Athina has an interdisciplinary educational background having studied Physics, History and Philosophy of Science, Italian language and Education. She has worked as Project Manager and now holds a position as Project Officer in the European Public Administration.

Note: The views expressed in this interview are purely those of my guest and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • What the Marie Slodowka-Curie Actions does and what role Athina plays within the organization
  • The difference between the roles of a project manager and a project officer
  • The fulfillment Athina gets from being able to see the results of the programs she works on and the impact this has on the individual researchers
  • The paths to a job in the European Commission for people with advanced degrees
  • How leveraging information that is online can help you map your skills against jobs that interest you
  • The general structure of the hiring process for the European Commission and how to prepare

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“When I go to the projects and I discuss with the young researchers, I tell them “Look, what are the skills that you are going to have from this? It’s not only the research, the specific scientific knowledge that you are going to learn, but it is: you learn how to work in a collaborative environment, you learn networking, you learn negotiation, you learn project management. So you learn many, many things that you can say to an employer in the future in order to make them understand that woul will be a good employee.”

“There are many resources on the internet where people can look and map themselves on these skills. And they can understand better, also for themselves, what they can do. And then, if they understand, they can explain it to the employers.”

Athina’s links: LinkedIn –; Twitter – @LifeOfaPOinEU; Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, European Commission –

You might also like the following episodes:

Adriana Bankston – Science Policy:

Jonathan Weitzman – Professorship and Industry:

Rob Hutcheson – Health Economics:

Simon Moore – Postdoc to Industry:

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