There Are No Limits to EDEN

June 21, 2016 by Antonio Moreira Teixeira   Comments (0)

Last week, at the 25th EDEN Annual General Meeting, I completed my term as President of the Association. The baton was passed to the new President Airina Volungeviciene, to whom I wish all the best in her new role.

At this significant moment, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the EDEN community for their support, engagement and contribution throughout these last three years. Similarly, I would like to thank the members of EDEN for the opportunity they gave me to serve, in this capacity, the largest and most dynamic European Association in our field.

My idea of leadership is a very personal one. Let me share it with you through a story that is special to me. Like most of you, I had idols in my youth. Looking back now, probably the one who made the biggest impression on me was the F1 champion Ayrton Senna (1960-1994). Senna was five years older than me and although we were not personally acquainted, our paths crossed several times. I first met him in 1978, when he was still a very young aspiring driver. The world kart championship was organised at the Estoril circuit and I attended the event with a bunch of school friends. Senna finished second and I remember that I became almost immediately a fan.

Three years later I was thrilled to discover that he had triumphed at the British F3 championship. The following year, Senna was introduced to F1. By May, at the Monaco Grand Prix, he drove superbly in the pouring rain. Starting at 13th in the grid he missed the deserved victory only because the officials called off the race. But, Ayrton didn't give up and continued impressing throughout the season. The following year I returned to the Estoril circuit thrilled to be able to attend the first race of the F1 season. In dreadful rain, Senna demonstrated his unique technique and talent, winning his first Gran Prix. A star was born.

Senna was arguably the best driver of all time. For me he certainly was. I still remember his most amazing races. However, what impressed me the most in Senna, was not just his natural ability or driving technique, he had a complex and very rich personality. Someone who had a deep understanding of his condition as a human being, as well as a professional driver. Someone who refused to compromise with the ‘powers that be’ and with injustice, and someone who didn't believe in luck or fate, but in the competence and commitment to elude the limits.

In Senna's own words: "On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And then you go for this limit. You touch this limit and you think 'Okay this is the limit.' As soon as you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high." Moreover, Senna recognised that this possibility to push the limits further was the ultimate expression of a well organised, engaged and focused team work to which everyone's contribution was critically important. A detail can make the difference.
Ayrton Senna driving at the European Gran Prix at the Donington Park Circuit, in 11 April, 1993.
Photo by Sutton Images/Corbis

For me this sums up the idea of leadership. To lead an organisation such as EDEN is in many ways a constant search for the limits and a tireless collective effort to expand them, as Senna described it. I'm happy to realise that our Association's limits have been continuously pushed and that our field of research and practice expects of EDEN more and more in each passing year.

Delivering the Senior Fellow Award to Tony Bates, at the Sheldonian Theatre, in Oxford, during the opening ceremony of the EDENRW8. In the picture is also the Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Mohammed Abbasi (left) and the Deputy Lieutenant, Mr.Graham Upton (right). Photo by EDEN.

We're living through the most challenging and exciting times in Europe and in our own field. I believe EDEN is very well prepared to support our community in exploring the emerging opportunities. Most surely, the best of EDEN is yet to come.

I'm deeply thankful to all the many colleagues and organisations who helped me through this demanding but also rewarding experience of leading EDEN. A special word of appreciation is dedicated to all my excellent colleagues in the EC, in particular the Vice-Presidents. Another very special recognition is due to the Secretary General Andras Szucs and the Deputy Secretary General Ildiko Mazar, as well as Anna Wagner, whom I once called the "guardian angel of the EDEN Presidents". I'm very thankful also to the EDEN staff whose expertise, commitment and cooperation have been absolutely critical for our Association's success.

This being my final post on the EDEN President's Blog, I would like to thank all those who have made this experience possible. I would like to acknowledge the 23 most distinguished guest writers who contributed to make this a collective medium of EDEN's governance and community.

Last, but not least, I wish to express my appreciation to Deborah Arnold, Ildiko Mazar, Eva Suba and Krisztina Tatrai who supported me brilliantly in setting up and managing the blog. Their contribution was simply great.

In the coming weeks, a renewed President's Blog will be launched. Please stay tuned.

Thank you so much for following us. All the best!