Saying Goodbye to Our Former Director: Charlene Miller

It is with gratitude and sadness that we announce the departure of the now former IBCM director, Charlene Miller. Charlene, coming from Calgary, Canada joined the IBCM team as part of the new college’s pre-accreditation review process in 2012, and joined the college full-time as Deputy Director in January 2014. Charlene Miller was appointed as Director of the College in October 2015 and served in the role until July 2017.

During her time at IBCM, Charlene has shown tremendous dedication and excellent leadership, helping immensely in building up our institution and shaping the path for future growth. Under her leadership, the college has managed to establish and develop the Business Department, increase students enrollment and develop numerous local and international partnerships expanding the opportunities for our students and staff. Therefore, we at IBCM want to express our gratitude and wish the best of luck to Charlene in all her future endeavors. Charlene will be missed from the team here.

Upon her departure, we conducted an interview with Charlene to get her point of view and memories from her time with IBCM:

What are your first memories at IBCM?
Earthquakes, literally. There were several earthquakes when I first arrived in November 2013, which was shocking and felt ominous. But aside from that, my first impression was the positive spirit of the people – it was striking! Both students and staff shared a very strong belief in what the college offered – skills, jobs, an international outlook, a future! This was very motivating.

What was most unique at IBCM?
I found IBCM’s curricula to be very unique. In my experience, first and second year students follow more strictly discipline-based courses, whereas IBCM students were learning to be integrative in their thinking from the first semester. This in itself is more representative of the real business environment and especially of entrepreneurs, who have to constantly adapt and connect different parts. It was ahead of its time, and not just for Kosovo.

What were some of the major achievements?
IBCM aims to formally educate people but also bring them together and we have achieved a lot in both respects. We have connected students with micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the area, where they have an opportunity to network through career fairs, business clubs, and conferences. Many students and staff have gone abroad for the first time on exchanges thanks to ERASMUS+ mobility funds. Mitrovica can be a tough environment, and yet last year we saw student enrolments increase by 30% and dropouts reduce by half. Now we see graduates getting employed in top jobs, both locally and abroad. This is a major achievement. What has been most meaningful has been the tremendous support from the community during the recent crisis with the government. This had a direct impact on IBCM and without flinching, our students, business and community leaders were adamant that not only must the college survive, but that it must grow. This is a testament to what IBCM has achieved thanks to a dedicated staff and incredibly smart and ambitious students.

Any messages for the students? 
Focus, plan, take risks and do your best, but accept that there will always be factors that you cannot control. So learn to get good at turning anything that comes at you into an advantage.

What will you miss most?
Obviously, the great people.

What are your plans for the future?
After taking some time off, I plan to make several plans and see which one sticks! It will be difficult to match the rewarding experience that working at IBCM has been for me, but I am very much looking forward to it.

A short bio:
Having studied peace-building and development at Trinity College Dublin and international relations at the University of Calgary, Charlene saw the practical value of higher education in building local leadership, particularly in fragile states. This vision guided her career in international higher education, which has spanned from education policy reform in Sierra Leone, surgical training programme and institutional development in Ireland and Tanzania, and development, management and evaluation of business education in Canada and finally Kosovo.

The role of IBCM director has now been assigned to Dr. Brian Staines.