Pass the pen: Alumna nominated spotlight

3 Mins read
Greta Paa-Kerner

As part of an ongoing series, we give alumni a chance to share their favorite GPS memories

By Rachel Hommel | GPS News

Greta Paa-KernerIn this series, we ask alumni from the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) to share a more personal side of themselves by answering seven or more questions from a potential list of 15. This will be a quarterly spotlight with the alumna or alumnus in the spotlight passing the “virtual pen” to the next person.

This month we feature alumna Greta Paa-Kerner, MPIA ’96, who currently works as the head of business engagement at Bucks New University. In this role she oversees the development of innovation hubs and the enterprise function of the university. Helping found the European alumni chapter, she is eager to reunite at this year’s 30th celebration.

Her comprehensive career spans involvement in start-ups, Fortune 100 companies and higher education across Europe, the U.S., Mexico, the Middle East and Asia. Although Greta Paa-Kerner is a native to San Diego, she has lived with her husband and three children in the UK for the last 10 years and prior to this they lived in Barcelona, Spain for eight years.

Read on as she shares highlights of her career and how she uses her GPS toolbox along the way.

Greta Paa-KernerQ: What has been a highlight of your career so far? 

A: I believe the best part of my career so far has been working and living in so many different countries. One of the reasons I studied at GPS was my interest in other cultures and my international perspective to life. I have lived in Spain and now England and I have worked with people from all over the world. It’s exhilarating to be invited as a guest of honor at an event in Sri Lanka or teach university students in the Czech Republic.

Q: What was your most memorable class or professor or project at GPS?

A: My most memorable class was International Business Simulation, where students were formed into companies and every week we made decisions about what to produce and where to produce it. My “marketing” colleague and I were both working while going to university and so our time was somewhat limited and so most of our decisions were guesses or gut feelings. This class was bold and ambitious for the day (1994-1996) as now these type of online modelling games are more mainstream.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received (professional or personal)? 

A: The best piece of advice I ever received is to not resist opportunity. If we are so rigid in what we think we want to do, then we miss the opportunities that we haven’t really even considered. Be open to new options. Another personal piece of advice I would like to share is to continue to be curious and always be open to learning something new because your career will go in so many different directions throughout life…but that’s exciting!

Q: What did you learn at GPS that has been most useful in your career? 

A: I learned that life isn’t so black and white and there are many ways of looking at things. This is especially true because we all have different backgrounds and life experiences which shape our thinking, meaning we can all be looking at the same situation and see something completely different.

Q: What do you like to do to relax/on weekends? 

A: My most favorite thing to do is to sleep in and then go for a long walk to a pub with family and friends, have a great lunch and then walk back.

Greta Paa-KernerQ: Your favorite city and why OR If you didn’t live in your city, where would you like to live? 

A: Barcelona is my favorite city and I lived there for eight years (2000-2008). We still have a flat there and plan on spending part of the year there when we are semi-retired. I like the city because there is always something to do, the weather is perfect, it is located on the sea, the sun is a little bit brighter in the sky than where I currently live and the people have a great attitude about life.

Q: What would make your life easier? 

A: Not having to work for a living, but rather having a secret trust fund or another mechanism to make money suddenly appear in my bank account. That way I could spend more time doing things I love but aren’t profitable like traveling and doing pottery.

Q: What do you miss the most about your days in San Diego (or more specifically GPS)? 

A: Mexican food!

Q: Who would you like to pass the pen to and why?

A: I would like to pass the pen to David Favela who has done an amazing job of building the Border X brewery business and revitalizing Barrio Logan.

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