Andrea Schneider is part of the Organizing Committee and Head of Marketing and Communication of IChO 2023. She tells us how it came that she joined the team, about her memories of the last International Olympiad in Switzerland and why to her “Let’s find solutions together!” is an important key message.
How come that you are part of the IChO 2023?
In 2016 the International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) took place at the University of Zurich. For that event, I had the pleasure to act as General Manager of the Organizing Committee and was responsible for all the tasks that were not covered by the Scientific Committee like events, hospitality, volunteers, marketing, and communication. Marco Gerber, who is the General Manager of IChO 2023 was also heavily involved in the IPhO 2016. As we got along well, we stayed in contact and met from time to time. Four years ago, I was invited by ETH to present lessons learned from IPhO. How glad I was to be able to refer to IPhO’s comprehensive and detailed final report! Due to my self-employment as a consultant, I could not take over a major role, however I was always happy to act as a sparring partner for the team. And then, last November, I had the chance to come on board with a part-time pensum.
What are your strongest memories of the International Olympiad in 2016?
I enjoyed so much to be surrounded by young people and their visions, spirit and enthusiasm – during the preparation of the event but as well as during the event. Thanks to that experience, I got very confident that despite of worldwide challenges the young generation will make a better world happen.
What I will also never forget is the time being surrounded by hundreds of physicists from many countries especially during the two years of planning. There were so many great discussions, and these were my source of inspiration – not only for my work but also for life in general. I will never forget the amazing time I had sharing the office with the Head of the Department, Ueli Straumann.
Now you are part of the IChO 2023 team, what are the biggest changes to IPhO?
We were a very small team at that time, what was linked to a couple of challenges and even risks. At IChO the load of work of the Organizing Committee is carried by more people. This is also great as we can exchange ideas, find solutions together and make use of the team’s brainforce. Of course, a bigger team also requires more exchange, more communication and interface management, which is by the way superbly managed by Marco.
The pandemic taught us how to work from home and use online meeting and cooperation tools. So, the domicile of the team members are spread all over Switzerland. I lived in Zurich during the time of IPhO, now I moved to Interlaken and work mostly remote on the project. Of course, the team meets regularly at the office at ETH. And surely, during the IChO all of us will be onsite and part of the big IChO family.
There is this IChO claim «Let’s find solutions together!», can you tell us more about it?
Finding solutions is the central theme of this year’s event. The wordplay is intentional. On one hand, a solution in chemistry is a homogeneous mixture consisting of two or more chemically pure substances. On the other hand, a solution is what is needed to accomplish a task or problem.
The IChO 2023 has both meanings in mind. At the same time, we see the importance of finding solutions to the challenges that affect our world.
We, the Organising Committee also asked ourselves, what “finding solutions” means for our work. And the answer was sustainability. We use sustainability as a guideline in every aspect of organising and implementing the event. And of course, it is also an important topic in our marketing and communication activities. We want our community to get inspired by people from the world of chemistry, to get fascinated and to also make an impact for a better world. Because we believe, everyone can do something. And everyone should.
And why is “togetherness” so important to you?
The key to almost everything is togetherness – if it is about creating a better future, but also in most aspects of life and work. What an International Olympiads offers (of course beside challenging problems and competitions), is to meet science enthusiasts from around the globe. To spend 10 days together – no matter from where in the world one comes – can be both fun and inspiring but also the foundation for future exchanges, research or common projects.
Of course, we want to encourage togetherness during the IChO, therefore we also planned a couple of activities. And sure, we will also keep our followers and readers up to date about it on our various channels.