In May 2016, Sebastian Zoepp was appointed as one of the Managing Directors of Interpret Europe. What are the motivations and goals that led him to take that role?
Sebastian, you recently joined Thorsten Ludwig as Managing Director of Interpret Europe. What was your motivation behind this step?
The motivation was to reconnect with working on more of an international level. I have already worked in development projects in the Philippines 15 years ago and always felt inspired by the diversity which people from different nations and cultures bring. However, for the last couple of years I have been very much focused on working on a more regional level. Working as a Managing Director for IE gives me the chance to connect again to colleagues all over Europe on a professional level and to exchange ideas as well as to cooperate wherever possible. My personal goal behind all this is to gain experience which helps me to foster sustainable development in rural areas all over Europe – and even beyond. I consider interpretation as one important instrument to achieve this goal.
What competences and experience do you bring to the role of Managing Director?
I have been self-employed for more than ten years, always dealing with the natural and cultural heritage of the UNESCO biosphere reserve, Spreewald in Germany. During this time, I have set up two enterprises; one in the field of education for sustainable development and one in tourism. In both enterprises heritage interpretation plays a key role in raising people’s awareness for the value of the regional heritage.
I have also been involved in several projects, such as ParcInterp, in which I have worked as an interpretive trainer. Moreover, I am familiar with working in an association, having worked on the executive committee of an association before. All combined, I bring a wide range of experience in the field of management and finance. Together with my long-standing practical experience and professional involvement in heritage interpretation, this will be an enrichment for IE.
In your opinion, what are the great opportunities for the development of IE within the next five years?
IE can connect a large number of practitioners as well as stakeholders in the field of heritage interpretation. The big chance of IE is to become the number one professional action and exchange platform for all European interpreters. IE allows all these people to connect, to exchange ideas and to represent their interests at a European level. In this way, IE can increase the importance of one single person on a local level and make his/ her knowledge available on an international level.
In addition, I think IE has enormous potential to become a key player in maintaining Europe’s natural and cultural heritage, through extended cooperation with tourism businesses, those delivering formal and non-formal learning and regional development.
What would you like to achieve for IE in the near future?
During my managing era, one of the first things to focus on will be to further professionalise the internal structures of IE so that we can smoothly handle the ongoing increase in members. This means, for example, to improve our membership database and back office software. In addition, the further involvement of our members as volunteers for specific tasks and projects will be a great achievement for the near future and the long-term implementation of our strategic goals.
What’s your personal wish for the near future of IE?
I see IE as an international platform for personal and professional exchange. The central idea behind this is on-going exchange and cooperation on an international level – all over Europe and beyond. That’s what the original idea of Europe is all about.
IE provides the ideal opportunities for this kind of exchange and cooperation: We act from the basis of focusing on local levels of all kinds and connect on an international level in order to make our local voices heard. Therefore, my wish for the near future of IE is to have more and more members being willing to bring in their competences and knowledge to cooperate with the Management in order to move IE one big step forward.
Thank you, Sebastian.
You are welcome!
Katja Winter is a freelance consultant, running courses as a trainer in Germany and currently working in a regional EU LIFE project. You can get in touch with her at Katja_Winter_LIFE@gmx.de.
Sebastian Zoepp is Managing Director of Interpret Europe. He is the founder of Spreescouts and of the Spreeakademie, two enterprises in the German Spreewald Biosphere Reserve, close to the Polish border. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To cite this article:
Winter, K. (2016) ‘Interview with Sebastian Zoepp’. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 2-2016, 7