Pia Valdivia (EML ’07) is vice president and chief financial officer of Salzburg Global Seminar. Prior to joining Salzburg, Valdivia was chief financial officer at Results for Development Institute, and held the position of director of finance and administration at both the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She received an Executive Master’s in Leadership (EML) at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, an MBA from the University of Miami, and a B.A. and M.A. in business management and marketing from the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
We spoke with Valdivia about her work at Salzburg, her experience at Georgetown, and a new program for leaders of global family-owned businesses:
Please tell us more about the work of Salzburg Global Seminar!
Salzburg Global Seminar partners with innovators and change makers across regions and sectors to inspire solutions to tough global challenges. As a fully independent, non-profit organization, we have convened nearly 600 sessions bridging cultural, ideological, and geographic divides, launched cross-cultural educational programs that drive institutional change to scale, and created peace-building initiatives and networks. Seminar participants share knowledge of complex issues and of the barriers that inhibit progress. They tell us that the Salzburg Global experience helps them channel frustration, renew their confidence, and open doors to breakthrough thinking and practical innovation. Through an array of continuing programs, Seminar takes a long view and emphasizes programs that address systemic challenges on a multi-year basis.
What motivated you to join the Salzburg team? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I felt honored to join this extraordinary organization. As a Salzburg native who has spent her adult life in the United States, I was thrilled to take on this new challenge allowing me to spend time in both the United States and Austria and to foster stronger ties across the world.
My skills and experience continue to help our teams achieve its ambitious goals as the institution raises its global profile, and that’s what excites me the most about my current role.
It has been 10 years since you graduated from Georgetown. Looking back, how has the EML experience impacted you? What lessons have stayed with you? What made the experience special?
The time I spent at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business was the most academically challenging and rewarding educational experience I have ever had. The extraordinarily innovative faculty, focus on theory, and real-world application in a variety of subject areas allowed me to explore individual areas of interest as well experience personal growth. The education I received was tailored to the experience I was seeking at the time, and the small program size was invaluable in fostering an encouraging, personal atmosphere for faculty and students. My Georgetown experience instilled in me a deep rooted sense of connection, which I continue to cherish and keeps inspiring me in my professional and personal endeavors.