TLDR: I’ve been in projects of first 20K, then 100K, then 0,5 MEUR and finally 1 MEUR. Organic growth, right? Experience in applying for Erasmus+ EU grants as well as getting down to the nitty-gritty of grassroot project life.
I see my growth in project work as one of steady and constant progress.
Baby steps: five figures
First, I did some small-scale external evaluations lasting a month or two. Someone needed this kind of service and I was booked as someone with qualitative or quantitative research skills to get the job done.
Then I got involved in a two-year evaluation process (2010-2012). Funding had already been covered by others, our portion was small (20 000 EUR) but it taught me the basics of how projects operate under the hood.
Please see examples of these in the Project Evaluation section.
Learning to swim: six figures
After this I spend several years as an Academic Coordinator in higher education development cooperation projects. These were a bit larger deals, ca. 100 000 EUR projects, and there was another Administrative Coordinator having the main responsibility for applying for funds, managing the admin side and submitting evaluations and reports.
My job was to plan international pedagogical processes, both long-term (two-three years project span) and short-term (one semester, one exchange etc.). Everything was done in teams and networks, of course, so it was constant emailing within the organization, with other national partners and a lot with international partners.
I learned to plan, implement and evaluate Intensive Courses. Some emphasized research and others development, but every one was a process of several months. We integrated learning assignments, theses and practical placements as part of these processes, wrote several international articles and learned a great deal of sustainable partnerships.
Many important friendships were formed in these years.
The six figures years also taught me to be a full scale Project Manager with responsibility over half a million euros. You can read more about the GLORE project in the Sustainability section.
Challenging the big boys: seven figures
I know a million euros is nothing for some readers but for me it has been a milestone. Just before I left I was able to secure an Erasmus+ Key Action 2 capacity building for higher education project with a budget of a little over 1 MEUR (2018-2020). The EU grant received was 941 420 EUR.
The project involves curriculum development in four higher education institutions in Vietnam and Nepal. The European network consists of organizations in Finland, Norway and Turkey.
This was an important success for me because I had failed miserably before while attempting to finish this application. I had worked tirelessly for weeks but could not complete the application text in time. I realized this about 15 minutes before submitting the application. You can imagine how traumatizing this can be.
But our wise management gave me a second chance, and this time around it was a success. We had more time to prepare (it does take months!), refined the line-up with most relevant experts, I personally learned to delegate, and everything just worked.
There were, of course, some last minute moments of horror, but in the end it worked out. We secured the full requested amount and the project is already running.
I decided to let go of the process even though the initial plan was for me to continue as the project manager. Some may question this choice, but I know it was the right one.
What’s most important for me is that many of the development plans we had in the South for so many years can now go forward with proper funding. This means renewing equipment to meet modern educational standards and having enough professional resources to renew pedagogical thinking.