External member of Wittenborg University’s Exam Board, Tanya Dimitrova, recently made a memorable trip to South Africa to interview Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr Desmond Tutu. “I’ve always wanted to meet him. After Nelson Mandela, he is one of the best-known South Africans and is respected worldwide.”
Dimitrova, who is currently an MSc lecturer at Rotterdam Business School, was education manager at Wittenborg until 2008. She went to South Africa at the invitation of the non-profit organisation Dream Chasers Approach and its founder, Uta Schmidt. The Tutu interview features in Schmidt’s book Dream Chasers: Overcoming Life’s Obstacles on Your Way to Your Destiny, to be published this summer.
According to Dimitrova, she was far from disappointed in her high expectations of meeting 84-year old Tutu: “I went to Cape Town for 10 days but until the very last minute we were not sure whether I would be able to meet him because he is very frail and rarely does interviews anymore.” Tutu played a key role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and received the Nobel Prize in 1984 for his efforts in reconciling the country’s black and white inhabitants. He was also the first black archbishop of Cape Town.
Dimitrova calls the trip “an eye-opening experience” and she says she fell in love with the country. “Desmond Tutu really is one of our modern-day heroes. He has an enormous capacity for love and compassion that shines through. He brings humanity to every situation and has this incredibly powerful but soft presence which touches people across religion and ethnicity. A real warrior of peace. Through people like him we can really learn a lot. I would love if we could incorporate that kind of humanitarian approach in our business courses. "
While in South Africa, Dimitrova also worked closely with the Out of Africa Children’s Foundation that helps children in poor circumstances. Tutu is one of its patrons.
Dimitrova, who was born in Bulgaria with extensive experience in business and telecommunications, came to the Netherlands in 2002. She joined Wittenborg from 2004 to 2008, setting up its education department after it became an English-taught institute. She played various roles, including its first education manager. “I don’t regret moving to the Netherlands – the country offers a lot of opportunities once you've decided which path you want to take. I like the sense of freedom and opportunity that exist here. I like the mentality of the people and the emphasis on personal development.”
Her areas of expertise are marketing, digital marketing, international business and strategic planning. “I am passionate about digital marketing and the impact of the Internet on business life and social development,” she explains.
Dimitrova has been an external member of the Wittenborg University Examination Board since 2013, - the exam board meets at least 6 times a year and has 2 external members. She also helps other institutes with benchmarking.
by Anesca Smith