11 Oct 2023

Sabine Pendl & Wessel Meijer: Managing staff, cultivating talent



It’s October 2023 and we find ourselves at the start of a new academic year. This is a hectic period for many professionals within the field of international higher education, but also an exciting start to a new year filled with purpose and possibilities. In this episode of the EAIE podcast, host Laura Rumbley talks to two guests who have found themselves at this ‘back to school’ moment numerous times already in their careers and whose senior leadership roles require them to guide international office teams through many such key moments.  

So how do seasoned team leaders like Sabine Pendl, Director of the Office of International Relations at the University of Graz (Austria), and Wessel Meijer, Senior Policy Advisor for Internationalisation at Leiden University (the Netherlands) prepare themselves every year for this ‘reboot’? What do they currently see as some of the main issues that international office staff will likely be facing this year? What are some of the key skills or competencies that they see as vital for managing an international office today, and what are some memorable pieces of advice they received from a supervisor or mentor over the years? Listen to this episode of the EAIE podcast to kick off the new academic year, and also get a sneak peek at Sabine and Wessel’s upcoming EAIE training on 13 and 14 November in Amsterdam, ‘How to manage an international office.’

About Sabine Pendl

Sabine Pendl is the Director of the Office of International Relations at the University of Graz, Austria and has served as President of the EAIE from 2018 to 2020. For almost 32 years she has been active in the field of internationalization. She has managed international projects and summer schools; has worked as a trainer on the development of joint degrees and the management of an international office; has authored numerous articles on internationalization topics such as benchmarking and teaching in English; and has participated actively in conferences around the world. In addition, she is Vice-President of the Utrecht Network, member of the steering committee of her University Alliance “Arqus” and currently acts as auditor for the German Rectors’ Conference for their internationalization project.

About Wessel Meijer

Wessel Meijer is an all-around international relations manager with 30 years of experience in the internationalisation of higher education, both as a manager and as a specialist. He is currently Senior Policy Advisor for Internationalisation at Leiden University, The Netherlands, responsible for strategic internationalisation issues. Recently, Wessel was Director of Strategy and Academic Affairs at Radboud University Nijmegen, responsible for the university’s strategic issues, institutional research and education policies. Before that, he led the International Office of the same university of 30 staff responsible for European projects, scholarship programmes, international admissions and corporate partnerships. As Head of the international office of Fontys University of Applied Sciences, he managed a team of 15 staff at three locations. At Utrecht University, his responsibilities were the Erasmus programme and the development and implementation of the international marketing strategy. He started his career at the Utrecht School of Arts in the early days of student mobility. Wessel is involved in several other international project activities as a trainer, speaker and expert in assessing projects at the EACEA in Brussels and auditing international courses.

Additional Resources

For further insights into the topics touched on in this episode, the following resources may be of interest:

→ EAIE Academy: How to manage an international office

→ Ten tools for managing an international office

→ 5 questions to ask during strategic internationalisation planning

→ International directors: managing up, down and across

→ Alejandra Vicencio & Frank Ziegele: That first job in international education