I know the CEF from its early beginning; we are old friends. We first met when I was working as a national pre-accession coordinator and there was an idea that the EU should support the development of something that could grow into a center of excellence in finance. As there was no related acquis, the idea did not pass. The CEF, at that time national, more an idea than an institution, had to find its own way of growing. And it did.
In the last twenty years, we have met many times, in many different development stages and capacities. Our friendship has grown and strengthened.
My first impression of the CEF was, as the name says, that they are dealing with knowledge of finance. I experienced the CEF as a harbor of knowledge. As a place where we, the non-financial people dealing with finance, could shamelessly ask questions, share the same frustrations, and confess that we do not know but would like to learn. It was a safe environment, back then squeezed into a small office under the roof. But it was also a place where we could share our practices with colleagues from other institutions and across the region. It was an alliance-building place among knowledge and practice seekers. It was about much more than financial expertise and knowledge. It was about self-confidence that we do what we do in a comparable manner with others, and about a common notion where and how we would like to go and grow. It was about feeling good.
The CEF grew and transformed into an international organization. Members of the CEF family made it possible, as they perceived the CEF as their own institution. Why? Because it is an excellent, constantly growing, trustworthy institution. Are financial topics really so important? Most probably yes, but the way the CEF approaches the subject is something new and inspiring, something people are attracted to. As an international institution, the CEF had to expand its program, team and premises, but the good feeling remained.
In its new vision, the CEF is putting people in the center, not finance, because it is the people who deal with finance. With adequate knowledge, but also capacity and environment to exploit that knowledge, individuals and institutions can most efficiently address current and future challenges.
When was the last time you were at the CEF? Most probably before the Covid-lockdown. Did you feel like at school or in a cozy living room where people feel comfortable and relaxed in order to work well? Have you visited their summer terrace, experienced their creative learning program and working environment? Did they stop during the Covid-lockdown? No, they didn't. They just used the situation and time for another pleasant surprise for all their guests, hoping that the situation will allow hosting them soon.
For centuries, the humankind has been trying to satisfy mental and physical needs. From Roman baths to modern spas. Wellness is a state beyond the absence of illness and aims to optimize well-being. The notions behind this term seek to optimize health and to consider the whole person.
When I am at the CEF, I always have a feeling that they consider the whole person, the well-being of each one of their family. For me, the CEF is a mental spa, already for a number of years. Regardless of what is going on and the difficult environment or circumstances that we are facing at work, being at the CEF is like being in a mental spa: relaxing, inspiring, forward-looking, pleasant and productive. There is always optimism, plans for future, encouragement, good results. When leaving the CEF, I always feel encouraged and inspired for days and for all the challenges to come. For me, this is excellence.