The EAN Head Office in Vienna, Austria, is the nerve centre of the European Academy of Neurology, serving as the main base of EAN activity, with various personnel also operating from elsewhere around Europe. With many of our staff interacting with EAN Members from a distance, and relatively few chances to meet in person, we decided to use this platform to introduce the team behind the scenes. This month it’s time to introduce our Executive Director, Anja.
Name: Anja Sander
Role: Executive Director
This year was my 20th congress (of course, it was only my 8th EAN Congress, but I had several congresses with the EAN’s forerunner, the European Federation of Neurological Societies) and it was in Vienna! The city I was born in, where I live and work – in the most beautiful office I know.
Twenty neurology congresses. “Always the same… isn’t that boring?” one might think. Not at all. There are always new things to do. And challenges. I love challenges. Which is not always appreciated by my colleagues.
I have a tiny country house, where I have my home office on the terrace, and in between I do some gardening because I love plants and nature, and all the little animals that are there. All? Not quite. There are even challenges in my garden: the snails. They eat my salad, my flowers, the potatoes, etc., and I have not found a solution for them so far. But since I know that they are food for the little fireflies that turn on their lights at night, it is easier.
Before the congress there is the time when the redcurrants are ripe and this is also a small challenge, since something needs to be done with them. So we usually prepare jelly—a lot—enough for the year and even to give some to friends.
Cooking is something I love, too. And baking. In previous years, I did not have (or rather allow) too much time for that, but luckily my husband is a really good cook, so I only do the baking. While doing so, I listen to podcasts; usually something on history. I never listen to audiobooks because I love reading. Books have been my companions since I was a child and I read every evening, no matter how late it is. Then I come to the office grumpy the next day. I mainly read Austrian authors, but also books about literature, communication, and behaviour.
Sports? Too challenging for me. What I really like is yoga. I also love to play cards and board games—usually when my son and his girlfriend come to visit us.
I love my job and the team I work with, including all EAN staff members, but also the board and committee members. It is interesting to work with lots of different people of different ages from different countries and different cultures.
I am thankful for having the opportunity to go to the various EAN schools, where I meet junior neurologists, who have such a great time and appreciate learning and interacting. To see this makes me really happy. Of course, I also love to be at the congress, where it is just great to see all the developments, the people interacting, exchanging knowledge, and communicating. It is a pleasure throughout the year to create new things, co-ordinate, organise, help, talk, discuss and have fun.
This is the most important thing for me: to work in an environment where innovation takes place and problems can be solved, but at the same time there is a spirit of good collaboration, openness and even friendship.