Mrs. Albina Tocilla is an expert in the field of Telecommunication Engineering. She graduated with an MSc in Telecommunication Engineering at Polytechnic University of Tirana in 2017, following her Bachelor studies in this field. She is currently pursuing her PhD studies at Ferrara & Polis University (double degree) on the topic “An optimal VANET system for urban traffic issues in intersections”. Driven by a passion for Computer Networks and Smart City, Mrs. Tocilla is actively engaged in education, sharing knowledge on topics like Telecommunication, Computer Networks, Network Infrastructure and Smart City.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with Higher Education Digest, Albina shared her professional trajectory, current roles and responsibilities as Vice Dean of Research and Development Faculty at POLIS University, her approach to leadership, significant career milestones, future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Albina, when did you realize you wanted to work in higher education or was there a moment in time when you decided this was the career path you wanted to take?
My affinity for teaching has deep roots in my family, possibly stemming from the influence of both my parents and grandmother, who have all been dedicated educators. This familial connection to the academic world has undoubtedly played a role in shaping my perspective. However, the decisive turning point in my professional trajectory occurred on the day I successfully graduated with a Master of Science in Telecommunication Engineering.
Rather than hesitating, I found myself ready to jump into academia, driven by a profound passion for sharing knowledge and fostering learning environments. The completion of my master’s degree not only marked an academic achievement, but also served as a catalyst for my commitment to higher education. Since then, I have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to contribute to the academic community, driven by the belief in the transformative power of education.
Please brief us about your roles and responsibilities as Vice Dean of Research and Development Faculty at POLIS University.
As the Vice Dean of the Faculty for Research and Development at POLIS University, my main focus is to create a culture of excellence and progress. I work closely with the faculty members to develop and implement innovative academic programs that are relevant and strive for continuous improvement. Representing the Dean, I consistently uphold our institution’s values. In addition to that, I also contribute to initiatives that promote student success, plan strategically for research and development and position our faculty as a leading center of excellence in the country. Essentially, my role as Vice Dean involves collaborating with others, having a forward-thinking approach and advocating passionately to establish POLIS University as a beacon of excellence and innovation.
Who would you say was the most impactful professor for you as an undergraduate, and what did you learn from them?
Professor Rozeta Miho made a lasting impression on me during my time as an undergraduate. She stood out as a dedicated teacher and mentor, bringing the curriculum to life with his dynamic teaching style. She emphasized the practical applications of what we were learning and inspired us to think critically. What set Professor Miho apart was not only his commitment to academic excellence, but also her genuine interest in our success and future careers. She provided valuable guidance that has had a significant impact on me.
The most important lesson I took away from Professor Miho was the value of critical thinking. She encouraged us to question assumptions and approach problems thoughtfully, which has proven incredibly useful beyond the classroom setting. In essence, she went above and beyond traditional teaching roles by fostering a love for lifelong learning and leaving a profound influence on my academic foundation and personal growth.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the start of your career, what would it be?
If I could offer myself one piece of advice at the outset of my career, it would be to embrace change and view challenges as opportunities for growth. In the dynamic landscape of one’s professional journey, adaptability and a positive mindset are invaluable assets. Rather than fearing change, see it as a chance to acquire new skills, broaden your perspective, and propel your career forward. Embrace challenges with resilience, recognizing that overcoming obstacles often leads to the most significant personal and professional development.
As vice dean, what is your approach to leadership?
As Vice Dean, my leadership approach is defined by collaboration, empowerment and a commitment to innovation. I prioritize teamwork, encouraging faculty members to excel through autonomy and mentorship. Visionary thinking guides our strategic plans, adapting to the evolving landscape of higher education. Open communication fosters trust, and I champion innovation to keep the faculty at the forefront. A student-centric focus and unwavering ethical standards underpin my leadership, creating an environment of growth and excellence.
What is your favorite non-academic book and why?
One of the books that I really enjoy reading of subjects is ‘Broken April’, by Ismail Kadare. What attracts me to this novel is its captivating exploration of traditions, the themes surrounding blood feuds and the impact of the Kanun. Kadare’s writing style is truly remarkable. He delves into human nature, making ‘Broken April’ an incredibly compelling and thought-provoking book. The novel’s unique insights into culture along with its crafted narrative resonate with me, on a personal level making it a book that I find both engaging and meaningful.
What has been your most career-defining moment that you are proud of?
The appointment to the role of Deputy Dean within the Faculty for Research and Development marks a pivotal moment, highlighting the acknowledgment that earnest dedication to professional responsibilities and a persistent drive for progress merit recognition. This event emphasizes the timeless truth that consistent hard work is a trustworthy driver for achieving positive results, confirming the belief that unwavering dedication leads to tangible benefits.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In the coming five years, my aspirations include obtaining a Ph.D. Degree, advancing my career in academia and establishing my own technology consultancy firm. This trajectory reflects my ambition to merge academic knowledge with real world implementation, making valuable contributions to research as well as the wider industry.
How do you wind down or rejuvenate after a long week or day?
After a tiring week or a particularly challenging day, I find comfort and renewal in practicing my favorite activities. Whether it’s getting lost in an exciting book, enjoying some relaxing music or taking a long walk-in nature, these activities help me disconnect from the pressures of work and recharge my energy levels. Spending quality time with loved ones also plays a vital role as it gives me a sense of belonging and support.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring professionals across the globe?
Embrace the concept of lifelong learning, remain flexible in your approach and cultivate a wide-ranging professional network. Embrace challenges as chances for personal development, uphold a strong commitment to your work and prioritize integrity. Achieving success requires a combination of dedicated effort, adaptability and a favorable mindset.