Zintis Hermansons (SPP ’15) is a native of Latvia and a project expert at ESPON EGTC (European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation) in Luxembourg. His research focuses on evidence-based policy, regional development and innovative ways of using spatial statistics and data for analysis. His passion is mapmaking. While at CEU, Zintis organized 'Data Stories' an exhibition presenting the complexities of CEU's various disciplines through different forms of data visualization.
As a researcher and project expert with ESPON, what do you feel is the most fascinating and / or impactful aspect of your work?
I’m leading several international research projects and I get to interact with people from all corners of Europe with very diverse experiences and academic backgrounds. I’m surrounded with so much knowledge that at times it feels terrifying to realize how little you know. But at the same time it makes me happy that I am able to synthesize all of it and translate to messages to policy makers.
How did your experience at CEU help prepare you for or influenced the work you do?
Before joining CEU my professional experience was limited to my native country. While at CEU I interned at the UN headquarters in New York; through a SPP research project I had a chance to work with the UK’s Department for International Development, which resulted in co-authoring a chapter in a book published by the World Bank. All this prepared me for an international career.
What do you feel is the core value or relevance of CEU, as both an institution and a global community?
I think CEU is a unique place where you can find academic excellence and a global approach to studies. It’s also a place for open minded people who think about changes in global perspective and one which truly advocates for open society. This goes far beyond the walls of CEU: as a community we have a strong sense of identity and a purpose, which helps to connect to each other.
Has the recent #LexCEU crisis affected your thinking about this?
The crisis demonstrated how strong the CEU community is in helping to our university to fight and survive it. It just showed me something I already realized: that our university is being respected globally, people have high opinion about it and they can come forward to speak out about many unfair and controversial proposals from the government.
What role does the CEU alumni network play in your life and/or career? Do you still keep in touch with classmates, fellow alumni?
When travelling for business or leisure I try to arrange a meeting to catch up with my classmates who are now building their careers all over the world. Some of these friendships are indeed special. My fellow classmate, Pasqualino Okello, has become my in-law. I am married to the most beautiful of Acholi woman, my wife Sophine Okello. CEU indeed has made a lasting impact on my personal life as well.
What do you miss most about your student days in Budapest?
I would lie by saying that I don’t miss Budapest’s ruin pubs and hanging out in the city. Indeed, these are some of the best memories, Budapest is a beautiful city and there is so much energy there. Therefore, I make sure to return to Budapest yearly to connect with my friends and enjoy the city.