The more observant among you have probably already noticed that Moravian Business College Olomouc (MVŠO) has a new Rector, the previous Pro-Rector for Science, Research and Development, docentka (Associate Professor) Ing. (Engineer of Economics) Jarmila Zimmermannová, Ph.D. What has the road that brought her thus far looked like? How has her career unfolded? What can she, in her own opinion, bring to this position? The answers (not only) to these questions can be found in the lines following!
To start off I will place a traditional question — what were your first feelings at the moment when you found out that you had been chosen to become the new Rector?
My first feeling was definitely surprise, the cause of which was the fact that I had not expected to be named to the position of Rector. The second most essential response was a sense of awareness of what a big responsibility is involved in being a Rector, because it means representing the school to the public. It is necessary to be very well prepared, in order to always be able, at a moment´s notice, to give precisely correct information, so that no misunderstanding has a chance to take place. At the same time I am accountable to the school itself, which in my specific case is made even more meaningful due to the fact that I have been working at this school since 2011.
Prior to becoming Rector you were the Pro-Rector for Science, Research and Development. To what degree will occupying the Rector´s position have an influence on your research career?
I certainly will have less time than in the past for my research work, but still I want to continue to actively devote myself to this area. I am staying put in the field of research for sure, whether as a researcher or as a research manager.
Do you figure, at the present time, in any particular research project?
As we speak I am involved in several research projects and I am also writing any number of research articles, which I of course want to complete. I will just have to find a way to make the time for both my new duties and my previous activities as well.
You mentioned that time is the main limiting factor in all this. What actually comprises the work of a Rector?
In general a Rector has to visit many time-consuming meetings and keep a large number of appointments, all of which is very demanding on one´s time. Even though I have been the Rector for only a relatively brief length of time, my calendar has already begun to fill up with these sorts of engagements. A typical example is welcoming visitors from abroad, where it is expected of me that I will represent the school by giving a memorable speech, thereby increasing the prestige of the whole school internationally. As a matter of course, however, there are also many dates with representatives of Czech institutions.
With whom have you met so far since becoming the Rector?
So far I have already participated in interactions with two Chinese delegations. The first was with a spokesperson of the Embassy who came to visit the school and at the present time, for a period of three weeks, we have here representatives of the Chinese institution of higher education Guangzhou College of Technology and Business (GCTB).
Do you see any basic difference between a male as opposed to a female Rector? What are the advantages of a woman´s character for this position?
In general it seems to me that women are more empathetic. This is particularly useful in dealing with others when you need to be able to see things from your partner´s point of view (or from that of a partner institution). This enables both sides to create just the right kind of mutually beneficial cooperation which will serve them best over the long haul.
Why, do you think, that you could be good for the school as its Rector?
I would say that the primary reason is that I know this school very well and very thoroughly. I have been here since the year 2011 and have followed not only the growth of the school as such, but also its daily development in the form of dealings, instruction, projects and social events. On all of these occasions I have been in constant contact with my colleagues as well as the students of MVŠO. For this reason I can see the potential that is here. Thanks to the fact that I am a fixed “internal“ component of the functioning of the school as a whole, I am at a distinct advantage to do this job.
Already as Pro-Rector for Science, Research and Development, you took part in several trips abroad as an employee of MVŠO. Do you think that the experience you gained via these travels can be helpful to you in performing the job of Rector?
Absolutely. While travelling abroad I was continuously improving my language abilities in English, which is practically a necessary language to know. What is more, the school is now opening itself to the outside world more and more in the sense of making studies here available to students from abroad, negotiations for international projects and, in future, efforts to acquire the prestige of international accreditation. In addition I have met many interesting people at universities in other countries who are now my professional colleagues. Some of them can even be called my friends and this is also an advantage for this school.
Which country was, from the academic point of view, the best for you?
Probably Germany, specifically the institutions of higher learning in the towns of Villingen-Schwenningen, Bochum and Nordhausen. At the latter two schools I even taught there in English for a longer period of time, which brings me back to the importance of this world language.
Being Rector means often giving public speeches, whether at graduation ceremonies or at other academic events. Are you always ready or are you still working on methods of how to overcome the stress of being expected to perform?
As Rector I have not yet given any such speeches, however, judging by my previous activities, where I had appearances, I did not have much trouble with stress. I have, you see, a tendency to always prepare myself very carefully and in that case stress and nervousness fade away. That is a good word of advice for students, by the way – — never underestimate the importance of being prepared. Put together an outline, then a rough draft and then you won´t have to worry too much about stress during your speech.
Any “message“ in conclusion?
I would like to invite not only students, but also my colleagues, to feel free to come and see me at any time to deal with whatever is necessary. I want to continuously communicate with everybody as I have done in the past. The fact that I am now the Rector doesn´t change that.