| Elizabeth O'Connor
Financial Officer in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Equal Opportunities
Originally from Limerick.
About your job: At present I provide financial and administrative assistance to staff of the Unit where I work and to Member States for the efficient implementation of ESF (European Social Fund) Community Initiatives in accordance with the relevant rules. I have previously worked on the financial aspects of Tempus, an EU programme which supports the modernization of higher education in the countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Western Balkans and the Mediterranean region, through university cooperation projects. I find it very rewarding meeting project co-ordinators from many countries and building up a working relationship with them.
Why the EU? I had worked for an American company in Ireland, also in the financial field. When the company relocated back to the US, I decided to broaden my experience by working in another European country. I hadn't originally planned to work for the EU Institutions when I first came to Belgium; that happened by chance. It is exciting working for one of the European Institutions in a multi-culture environment and taking part in activities at EU level.
How do you think Ireland has benefited most from the EU? Financially of course, but also in confidence. By being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with all the other Member States on an equal footing, Ireland has become a confident country. This confidence can also be seen in the upsurge of Gaelscoillana and in Irish adults' renewed interest in wanting to relearn their national language.
Languages: English, French and Irish:
I received a good foundation in French at secondary school and perfected it at language courses in the European Commission, and in using it at work and in daily life. Irish is a bit rusty but I hope to address that in the near future. I also understand a few words in German, Spanish, Italian, through work and Dutch from living in Belgium.
Books/Music: I love reading and have a varied interest, so I have many favourites. That applies to music too. However, at the moment I am studying for a B.Sc degree in Psychology with the Open University (UK) which I hope to complete in October 2010, therefore I have to prioritize research reading.