12 Feb 2024

Written by

Nanna Cornelsen

#MeetTheTeam – Alexandra Clipa

Meet the TeamZero Waste Europe - general

It’s time to discover and learn more about the people behind Zero Waste Europe’s work and magic! In addition to the ZWE Changemakers series, where you can learn more about our member organisations, we invite you to get a closer look at our staff, what they do, and what inspires them to work for a zero waste future.

This time, we sat down with Alexandra Clipa, our Administration & Events Officer who has been at Zero Waste Europe since May 2020.

How did you come to join Zero Waste Europe?

I believe that joining Zero Waste Europe came at exactly the right time in my professional life. I was missing purpose and unsure of what path I should take, so when I discovered the vacancy I immediately thought about how I could connect my knowledge and experience to the role.

The concept of zero waste is generally well-understood today, and while I already had my own views and understanding, looking at it through my own cultural lens, it was only after joining the organisation that I became more aware of the different realities, be it at the local, European or international level. 

What motivated you to work for a zero waste Europe?

I would say it’s a mix: my own upbringing (coming from a small town in Romania and thinking back on our minimalist lifestyle that I used to question growing up), the wish to be part of a community, the need to become more educated and self-aware of the decisions I make in my day to day life, and, of course, the intense belief that we all have a direct role to play in driving change (no matter how invisible it is). 

What would you say is the most interesting part of your job?

Being challenged! Having an Operations role implies a lot of “figuring it out”. From strategic planning to scoping the work and process improvement, there are many big questions you constantly have to ask yourself; it’s all about your team and their enablement and empowerment.

The culture of an organisation is the sum of all its subcultures – different teams, personalities, and working styles, and you have to find a way to blend everything harmoniously. 

What would you say is your greatest professional achievement while working at ZWE?

Witnessing all the spectacular change Zero Waste Europe has gone through since I joined, all while doing my part to support this change. Back in 2020, the world was different, and even more so today.

But what really makes me proud is the innovation force we’ve unlocked within the team; from systems and processes, practices and behaviours, values and culture, to learning and development, there has been a lot of care, thought, and resources put into making Zero Waste Europe a thriving workplace.   

What are the biggest challenges that you face in your work?

For each area of work, there are different challenges, but the most striking one remains prioritisation. How much change is needed in an organisation and how do you know when to stop? This is one of the questions I always ask myself.

As an Operations Team, you need to find the appropriate balance between impactful change and ‘Big Bang Change’ (=change that is too sudden or too ambitious). You have to live in the moment, but also look forward to the future, taking risks but also staying realistic.

Most importantly, what we really aim for is to design feasible solutions, only change what isn’t working, and facilitate healthy team mindsets.

What is an aspect of your work that you find fun?

That you can be yourself, even in a professional setting. And that colleagues can actually be bribed with chocolate or snacks. All joking aside, I think one of the best parts of work is when you feel comfortable enough to bring a bit of fun to the workplace, be it in moments of success or failure. 

In your view, which actions are needed to ensure Europe is moving in a direction in line with the principles of sufficiency, wellbeing and resilience?

It has always been challenging and provocative to tell people what they should and should not do in terms of behavioural change, but I believe that we all need to acknowledge the scary thing at a certain point: living in a wasteful and consumerist society is not the way to go if we seek to fix a deeply broken system. We do not need to go big or do everything all at once, but instead just bring a bit more meaning and care to what we do – be it our consumption, lifestyle, self-awareness or contribution to society.

Looking ahead, which developments or priorities will you be focusing on in your work?

In 2024, our focus as a team will first and foremost be on continuing to foster a positive culture, from learning and development, to developing an organisational approach, to project management, to simplifying some internal processes for better alignment of work with purpose.

Personally, I will work on further developing a comprehensive IT infrastructure for the organisation, leading on impactful events and strengthening our intra-team (operational) capacity.

Are there any other resources or topics that you want to highlight?

I recently read an interesting article about life in (and out of) the office – it seems that 2023 was viewed by many as the year of Great Exhaustion – mostly because of the intense work, back-to-back meetings and endless email chains or messages. The excessive levels of (digital) communication severely impacted morale and productivity, and ultimately led to fatigue.

As a personal/professional goal, I have decided to be more mindful about the pressure I put on myself or others, and only cultivate healthy ambition.

Want to learn more about Alexandra and her work? You can reach out to her at [email protected]