Usually people study, do AEGEE, then start working – not so Alma Mozgovaja. The newly elected Secretary General of AEGEE-Europe does things in reverse order. After starting working at the age of 19, next to her studies, Alma decided that life is more than studying and working. She calls it her new “unpaid life”. Being elected with 63.9 percent in a competitive election at the Agora in Alicante, Alma is looking very much forward to her new life that starts in September. The Golden Oldie asked her about her motivation, her hobbies and reveals what never misses in the fridge of this versatile young lady: eggs in all forms.

Golden Oldie: Alma, tell us a few words about yourself. How old are you, where do you come from, what did you study?

Alma Mozgovaja: I am 25 years old. I’m coming from Jurmala, a beautiful city along the seaside, but all my life I have lived in Riga. Although during high school I was more focusing on maths I chose to study Communication Sciences in the university. Afterwards I was studying Baltic Sea Region studies, but I have never worked on any of these fields.


Golden Oldie: You are working already as Brand Manager at Sirowa Rīga. What kind of company is that?

Alma Mozgovaja: I started to work already during my studies – first in marketing research and then decided that I want to do marketing. So the week I graduated I started to work in L’Oreal, after two years I changed to Henkel. I just love marketing because there is everything – numbers and analysis, research and development, PR, designs and visuals and many more things. As you can see I really like diversity. And after 4 years in pure marketing I changed my job to one of the biggest parfume distribution companies in the Baltic countries, which is working with such brands as Hugo Boss, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and many more.


Golden Oldie: Why do you give up a decent job for AEGEE?

Alma Mozgovaja: I have worked for more than six years already and I have never had a decent student life. I believe that working for AEGEE will bring me down to earth and will reveal the reality of students’ and young people’s life and interests. And moreover – I will focus on one thing instead of several: AEGEE.


Golden Oldie: How did you join AEGEE?

Alma Mozgovaja: I joined AEGEE in 2005 and at my first meeting I was elected as HR responsible in the board. Why? Actually I found out about AEGEE in 2004 during European Days of Languages organised by AEGEE-Riga and fell in love with it, but it took me exactly one year to join, as there was no HR responsible and nobody answered to my emails. They saw how desperately I wanted to be in AEGEE and how important it is to have a HR responsible. That’s how it started.


Golden Oldie: That’s impressive. What were your biggest achievements so far?

Alma Mozgovaja: I have organised a lot of events but of course the one I’m proud of is EBM Riga this year.


Golden Oldie: 30th of April, 8.17 pm, the announcement of the election results in Alicante. How did you feel in that moment?

Alma Mozgovaja: How precise! I was just enjoying the moment that will change my life, as I’m sure it will!


Golden Oldie: Did you have doubts that you would be elected?

Alma Mozgovaja: I was sure that I want to be elected and this is the most important. But anyway I had other plan, if I hat not been elected.


Golden Oldie: How is your relation with the other candidate for Secretary General, Seren Günes? Did you talk with her afterwards?

Alma Mozgovaja: I didn’t know Seren before and still don’t know. She wished me good luck.


Golden Oldie: When did you decide to candidate?

Alma Mozgovaja: For the first time it popped up in my mind during the European School 1 in Las Palmas in December 2010, but I decided to do it just after the EBM in Riga, when I had some time to sit and think, to understand what it really means and what I want to do in the future.


Golden Oldie: How does it feel to be CD member-in-waiting? Are you eager to start?

Alma Mozgovaja: I didn’t want to leave Brussels when I was there right after Alicante, but now I’m enjoying the last weeks at work and with my friends in Riga. I love the feeling of being “right before something”!


Golden Oldie: What qualifies you to be a good Secretary General?

Alma Mozgovaja: Motivation, experience and the energy that I want to devote to this position and people with whom and for whom I will work for.


Golden Oldie: You have the advantage of knowing how to organise statutory meetings, since you were coordinator of the EBM in Riga this year. How did that go? What were the biggest challenges?

Alma Mozgovaja: It was challenging, but the AEGEE-Riga girls and one guy did it with the great help from our beloved twin antenna AEGEE-Las Palmas and other volunteers. Usually the biggest challenges are those that you cannot influence, for example minus 20 degrees, but everything went fine, we had very sunny days indeed. Of course, we also took extra care of all premises to be warm enough.


Golden Oldie: Which are your most vivid memories of the EBM?

Alma Mozgovaja: The most vivid memories I have from the opening ceremony when I was four times on the stage with different tasks and managed to change my clothes three times. The opening ceremony was stressful for me, but right after it finally I felt relaxed, because the long preparation phase was over and the event had started.


Golden Oldie: The future AEGEE-Europe president Alfredo Sellitti said he wants to strengthen the Secretary General role, since he wants to focus on external relations. What does that mean for your work?

Alma Mozgovaja: It means that I will be Alla and Manos in one person. Just put the first two letters of their name together – Al-Ma! I will do the regular Secretary General tasks and additionally I will take care of the team management what has been done lately by the president.


Golden Oldie: Indeed, the Secretary General is very important for the atmosphere in the AEGEE-Europe headoffice. How do you want to assure a positive atmosphere?

Alma Mozgovaja: The cooperation between us CD members will be the most important point to ensure a positive atmosphere. Additionally I am planning to take care of details what will make our life easier so that everybody can feel appreciated, empowered to reach their potential, committed to the quality of work they do and still to have some fun. Details? They will see it soon!


Golden Oldie: In your candidature you said that being in AEGEE for six years gives you a clear vision how the association has changed. What do you see as biggest challenges for AEGEE as an international students NGO?

Alma Mozgovaja: I believe it is the lack of common goals and vision. We are open for everybody and for every activity and that makes us split our resources and harder to reach our goals. Even if we have Flagship projects, we don’t have one focus on our activities. One more challenge is a lack of people who are active in European level.


Golden Oldie: You also said that you want to monitor the quality of events. How is the quality now? And how can it be improved?

Alma Mozgovaja: William A. Foster said: “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” This is how we can improve what we have: to be conscious of what we want and what we do!


Golden Oldie: Finally, a few personal questions: How do you want to manage a good work-life balance in the CD? What are your hobbies?

Alma Mozgovaja: My balance is a bit different: I’m able to work for 24 hours but then my brain and body need the same amount of hours to relax and enjoy life. I love an active life. Right now I’m dancing Latvian folk dances, but I know that most probably I won’t have enough time for this in Brussels. So I will do jogging what I haven’t done for a while. Beside that I like artistic things – making photos, handmade postcards for friends and family, earrings, my designed clothes and more.


Golden Oldie: What do you want to do after finishing AEGEE? Going back to marketing?

Alma Mozgovaja: I hope the CD will be the beginning of my new unpaid life. I’m planning to do European Voluntary Service, study a Masters and not return to the labour market for the next couple of years.


Golden Oldie: As a child, what did you dream to be your future job after growing up?

Alma Mozgovaja: I was dreaming just about getting independent as soon as possible. I really liked ladies behind the screen – as directors – and to design clothes.


Golden Oldie: What are you most afraid of?

Alma Mozgovaja: That there is not enough time for everything what I want to do.


Golden Oldie: What is never missing in your fridge?

Alma Mozgovaja: Eggs, I love eggs in all possible ways – except raw. I had even a business plan to open an eggs bar where all food would contain eggs.


Golden Oldie: How would you describe yourself in five keywords?

Alma Mozgovaja: Active, sociable, creative, complicated, stubborn.