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Meet the Brussels expat: Adam Gerencser

Jan 14, 2018
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Adam Gerencser describes the value of family time and offline interests outside his role at the European Commission

My roots are Hungarian, though owing to the nomadic impulses of my parents I grew up on the move, mostly in Germany, North Africa and Australia. Then, as a student in Aberystwyth, Wales, I met my brilliant best friend Gina from Malaysian Borneo. A decade ago she became my wife.

Pursuing a childhood dream to work for the most ambitious utopian project on Earth, I left my management post at IBM and moved to Brussels in 2012. I joined the European Commission’s directorate-general for translation, initially as a translator and workflow coordinator, then as a quality officer.

In 2016 I moved into an advisory role. My role shifts with the policy priorities of my director, but an average working week usually sees me attending meetings, drafting briefing notes and papers, coordinating consultations and managing ad hoc projects. This requires me to take a broader view and engage with all aspects of multilingual policy, to ensure European citizens have timely access to legislation and key documents in their own language, and that translations are provided within a sustainable budget.

When not at work I mostly stay offline, pursuing my creative quests: I research and publish science fiction, study theology, volunteer, hoard far too many books, and host a board games club with my wife. Together we travel off the beaten track about once a month and relentlessly challenge every parenting cliché flung at us.

When it comes to work-life balance I’ve been fortunate. Thanks to my understanding boss, I’ve just spent four months on half-time after the birth of our daughter, able to fully enjoy what Brussels has to offer for families.

The Belgian capital is like a large junction at the crossroads of Europe, where travellers meet to exchange tales and ideas. It’s not a melting pot like London or Paris, as there isn’t one overarching identity to melt into. Rather, it’s a matrix of overlapping social and cultural bubbles – eurocrats, anglophones, Catholics, Hungarians, art lovers, parents. Here, you get to configure the life you want from a wide choice of social Lego bricks. What you build is up to you!

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