Aspire Global Weekend- Q&As on leadership

Aspire’s strength is Aspire’s vibrant and diverse tight-knit community! Community and a sense of belonging to a community are always important – be it within a company or nationally. The Aspire journey does not end in Poiana Brasov. It flourishes and lives on outside of the Summer programs.

Our Aspire Global Weekends are a testament to this strong desire to reinforce our connections and community. Old ties are strengthened and new ones made!

This year’s Global Weekend that took place in Brussels was much needed after a long time of disruption in our personal and private lives! Amidst uncertainty, Aspire rediscovered the value of a strong and solidary community.

Not to worry if you missed out on the event – this post will give you a recap and highlight of the most important moments during the Global Weekend! From riveting speakers to amusing nights spent discovering this European capital, this weekend was one our Aspirers will not forget.

Luminița Odobescu

Ms. Odobescu was Romania’s permanent representative during the first Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, contributing to the perspective of the Romanian people abroad. The first lesson Ms. Odobescu took from her job as Romania’s representative was that she had to trust herself and be serious regarding her work. As she mentioned, another lesson she learned during that period was to be more operational, specific and to follow up to see if her decisions were also applied in real life. “The EU, for me, is opportunity and trust.”

Her unforgettable advice for the audience was: “If you are very committed and have the know-how, everything is possible.”

Ami Calancea: “The session with Luminița Odobescu gave us fascinating insights into the life of an ambassador and into her experiences in fighting for her country”

Simona Lungu

“Leadership is about others- you need to understand the people around you to serve them in the best way possible.”

“Education should not and does not happen in isolation.” 

Simona joined the Junior Achievement Europe team in Brussels in 2019 after 10 years of experience working across the private, public and charity sectors. When she worked as a Business and Economics teacher in the UK, she focused on developing underprivileged communities across Europe, developing teacher-training curricula with Teach for All network partners.

Throughout her career, she has been actively seeking opportunities that bring change and societal impact and has worked on various corporate social responsibility projects, with a focus on youth employment, work readiness and skills development. Currently, she is managing pan European large-scale projects in the field of entrepreneurship education, STEM and digital skills at JA Europe, Europe’s largest provider of education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy.

Her leadership tip for us was to listen more and talk less!

Suzana Carp

Suzana Carp is a European expert in public climate and environment protection policies in Brussels, where she offers advice to the European institutions, to the UNO, and not least to academic research centers recognized at European level.

Through the efforts made by her and the coalitions she has built, Suzana has made significant contributions to the European environment legislation, in terms of the EU ETS carbon market, the European climate law and the Regulation that translates the Paris Agreement into national targets. Suzana’s education took place in five countries and two continents. Suzana graduated with a master’s degree at Oxford University. Her diplomas are in various fields such as conflict reconciliation, migration studies, EU climate and energy legislation, political sciences and international studies.

The main takeaway from this outstanding session was that doing courses, besides having a job, is very helpful in broadening one’s set of skills.


  • “What is your motto?”

Luminița Odobescu: “Keep smiling and never give up.”

  • “What characteristics or skills should a future leader have?”

Luminița Odobescu: “Empathy, stubbornness and the ability to keep negotiating.”

Simona Lungu: “To be an effective communicator, strategic, yet operational, digitally literate and to know how to develop teams.”

Suzana Carp: “The art of building consensus, being realistic about what we can do, authentic and doing good things for the people.”

Alin-Claudiu Apostu: “Paying attention to what happens around us and to details.”

Mihai Toader-Pasti: “Expectations- there is no magic recipe for anything, you have to work for it. Also, being curious and asking questions.”

David Timiș: “Empathy.”

  • How has the learning/teaching pattern changed during COVID? 

Simona Lungu: “It has been difficult to measure learning and progress, especially because a lot of students do not put their cameras on (some teachers even resigned because of this). This depends a lot on the country, in Denmark they had already used technology before COVID, so it was easier for them to adapt to this new teaching era. We will see the impact this has had in the communication and teamwork skills in the coming years.”

  • How do you adapt your projects to new environments (like countries who have a different cultural background)?

Simona Lungu: “In countries where innovation/entrepreneurship is not taught in schools, there is a “hunger” for knowledge. Listen more and talk less to understand what the population actually wants. Don’t have any preconceptions.”

  • For developing good leadership skills, what would you put in shopping cart?

Simona Lungu: “Good online courses (eg effective communication).”

  • What would you buy your friends for Christmas so they improve their leadership skills?

Simona Lungu: “A journal, bullet or not, to be able to reflect on your success.”

  • What would you like to see more of around you?

Simona Lungu: “More curiosity.”

  • What would you do on your first day as the “Minister of Leadership”?

What would you do on your first day as the “Minister of Leadership”?
Simona Lungu: “Demystify what leadership actually means.”

  • What helped you get through COVID?

Simona Lungu: “My accountability partner. We would always check on each other to see if we managed to do what had aimed for.”

  • What will and will not change in the next 10 years?

Suzana Carp: “What will change in next 10 years is the mobility around the city and between cities while what won’t change is the need to be creative and versatile with our skills.”

  • What type of mindset helped you in life?

Suzana Carp: “The American approach that teaches you not to limit your perspectives just because someone believes something to be impossible.”

  • What is your definition of leadership?

Mihai Toader-Pasti: “The ability to imagine a future and to inspire people to make that future happen.”

Alin-Claudiu Apostu: “Leadership is not about you, it is about serving others.”

David Timiș: “Seeing the potential in others and helping them put it to work.”

  • How much of a leader is born/made?

David Timiș: “You can be born with a leader’s skills, but you need to develop them.”

Mihai Toader-Pasti: “People find the excuse <<I was not born to do that>>, but the only thing that matters is what you want to do in your life.”

  • How do you not give up on your dreams?

Alin-Claudiu Apostu: “Accept that you have the chance of failing and disappointing people.”

  • In a room full of leaders and strong individuals, how do you reach compromise?

Alin-Claudiu Apostu: “Think about the greater good of the group.”

Entertainment after the conference

This Aspire Global Weekend was an occasion to reconnect and make new friends. Our community did not pass on visiting Brussels by night as well as touring the European Parliament. Aspirers tasted the famous Flemish fries from a stand that even Angela Merkel gave her seal of approval to. They also went for drinks at the Embassy Room bar where they had a great time!

We are grateful for our ever-growing community and would be happy for you to be a part of it too! Apply to Aspire’s programs and follow us on our social media accounts ( Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram) to be alongside us every step of our ambitious journey.

This blog post was written by Ioana Turcan and Daria Dumbravă on the basis of Larisa Dașcău’s materials from the presented event. “Teamwork makes the dream work” indeed!

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