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Pouneh Eftekhari

08 Jun 2021 3:30 PM | Anonymous


International Coordinator, Strategic Partnerships and Networks

Lund University, Sweden

  1. What is your current title, and where do you work? International Coordinator, North America at Lund University (Lund, Sweden)
  2. How did you learn about your current position? I networked my way to my first role at Lund University in 2016 and was promoted several times until I reached my current position.
  3. What sparked your interest in working in international education? Growing up as a minority in my hometown, I didn’t always understand why my different religion or the language I spoke at home made me the target for bullying or exclusion. I longed to be like everyone else and didn’t appreciate my uniqueness until much later in life. The intersection of my identity crisis, passion for learning/education, and interest in travel led me to a career in international education.
  4. What was your first job in international education? I created some opportunities for myself to work with international programs/students during grad school, but only through networking and lots of compromises, could obtain a paid position in international education.
  5. Tell us about your first international experience, either traveling or working abroad. I vividly remember traveling to England when I was five years old. The most exciting part was riding on a jumbo jet and seeing Buckingham Palace. After that point, I was fortunate enough to travel internationally a few more times before embarking on my first study abroad experience in college. To date, I have studied abroad twice as an undergrad, earned my master’s degree abroad, taught English abroad, and worked abroad in several countries.
  6. What do you enjoy the most about your job? I work as a project manager and love the process of bringing ideas to fruition. It’s exciting to work with different individuals and offices on campus and international stakeholders, like Embassies, partner universities, government agencies, etc. It is also fun to travel to different parts of the world to launch these projects and/or meet with partners to continue the management of such projects.
  7. What is the most challenging aspect of your job? I am originally from the USA and currently work in Sweden. Learning how to be a professional in the Swedish context and having to learn the language has been a challenge for me. It is a very humbling experience to have to make a good first impression in a foreign language which you’re still struggling to learn.
  8. Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? I feel very fortunate to have had several people throughout my career who have been integral in my professional growth and development. I have always sought out at least one person at work whom I admire and try to learn as much from them as possible. I have also reached out to individuals I didn’t know but were “known” in our field. Each and every time, these individuals have generously shared their time with me and offered their wisdom. The individuals I have been able to learn from have forever changed me and my life. Without their guidance, I wouldn’t have ever had the courage to apply for a Ph.D., ask for that promotion, or take a leap of faith and move to another country without having secured a job prior to the move.
  9. Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement. I feel like each day that I have worked abroad is my greatest “lesson learned” because I am continuously humbled by the realization that I have a very narrow understanding of how things work.
  10. How has COVID19 Impacted your work life? I started working from home in March and continued working from home until the end of the year (I am now on parental leave for 2021). COVID-19 made me realize how much of my job satisfaction had to do with where I worked and with who I worked. Having limited contact with colleagues and via a screen really changed things.
  11. If you are working from home, has that adjustment been difficult or enjoyable? I have tried to keep things interesting at home by experimenting with new things for lunch/snacks and using the time I used to spend commuting to and from work for other things.
  12. What type of things are you doing to balance your mental health and lack of social engagement? I have made an extra effort to reconnect with people I’ve lost touch with or don’t connect with as often as possible. It has also helped to make recurring video call dates with loved ones.
  13. What is the best advice you can give to other global educators right now as we move into the new year? Most people experience change as a stressful thing. They find it chaotic when the ordinary becomes unpredictable. But for me, I find change exciting. It’s an opportunity to take stock of what has been done and see how we can make it even better. So, my wish is for my fellow colleagues to use these uncertain times as an opportunity to take a step back, reevaluate what they’re doing and then make the changes needed to move forward in a more meaningful way.
- Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Kanette Worlds

The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.


Our members come from different backgrounds, abilities, levels of experience, and parts of the world. Our goal is to embrace this diversity and encourage relationships across generations and experience levels for the benefit of all involved. 

The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.


Our Mission

The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders.  Become a Member