Recently we have started using acronyms for the titles of our training courses when referring to them internally. So, MFA stands not for “Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, but for “Master of Finance and Administration”. This course is one of our advanced level courses focusing on the financial management and administration of EU research and innovation projects as well as on EC audits. Usually, financial managers and administrative officers from universities, research institutions, industrial organizations and public bodies, who are in charge of managing the budgets and reporting the costs of their institutions’ FP7 projects, join us in these MFA courses.
Last week we had the fourth and the last MFA of this year, which took place in Budapest. The previous three courses took place in Brussels in March, June and October. While of course we like travelling occasionally to Brussels for training courses and project meetings, we also like very much welcoming and hosting our training participants in Budapest. In fact, they also seem to prefer coming to Budapest when we ask them; but of course when it comes to logistical aspects, most of the time Brussels is the winner given its easier accessibility for people travelling from different countries.
Then again, we had 18 participants from 10 different countries joining us at the MFA course in Budapest on 28-29 November 2013. We explicitly scheduled this training course on these dates to be in parallel with the launch of the Budapest Christmas Market 2013 (Perhaps this was the “hidden” reason why these 18 people travelled to Budapest?! J). In so doing, our participants had the chance to visit the Christmas Market and have some mulled wine or tea, buy some local handicraft products and relax after a hard day of training.
Indeed, we believe that it is important to combine work with leisure-time activities. That is why, in our training courses we always have some social events, be it a common dinner, sightseeing tour, boat trip in Danube, or a Christmas market visit if the course is in that period. We believe that the same principle applies also to European projects. We always recommend our training participants to include some social activity or other ice-breaking activity such as a common lunch/dinner or team-building session in their project kick-off or periodic meetings in order to enrich the professional part of these meetings with social aspects. This, in turn, should actually boost the effectiveness of the overall performance of these meetings and consequently the project activities.
This week we are going to Vienna for our last training course of this year – PMFR (Project Management and Financial Reporting). We expect to meet 40 professionals from across Europe and beyond looking for answers on periodic reports, consortium agreements, IPR issues, financial reports and EC audits of their FP7 projects and upcoming Horizon 2020 projects. Just one day before the start of our training course, the first Horizon 2020 calls for proposals are expected to be published. We will most likely be chatting about these calls with our participants over a hot wine at one of the renowned Christmas markets of Vienna and get inspired for some new project ideas!