Global Development Institute Blog

Dr Chris Rees, Senior Lecturer, Human Resources and Organisational Change

I was saddened to learn that Professor Ruth Alas of the Estonian Business School had died on January 23rd 2018. She was 57.  I first met Ruth in 2002 at a conference in Zagreb. After that initial meeting, we worked together on various initiatives and writing projects.  In 2004, Ruth suggested that, along with Professor Vince Edwards, we put in a proposal to the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) to run an event on Organisational Change and Development. The proposal was received favourably and the first EIASM Organisational Change and Development colloquium took place in 2006. The event ran successfully and then became an annual fixture, not least because of Ruth’s high levels of commitment and energy.

One of Ruth’s visions for these events was that they should provide an opportunity for PhD students and early career academics to present their work and receive constructive feedback in a genuinely international forum.  Ruth’s vision became a reality; for example, since 2004, steady streams of GDI/IDPM PhD students and staff participated in the colloquiums and gained firsthand experience of the type of learning engagement that she valued so highly. I recall Ruth’s enthusiasm as she opened the events, often with a roll call of some of the names of people who had attended the colloquiums in the past. When Ruth closed the colloquiums each year, she was first, generous with her thanks and then, invariably, sought to turn our attention to the theme and location of the next event. She had a remarkable capacity for networking and, during our planning activities, was never short of ideas for names of potential collaborators.

It was a pleasure to work with Ruth for 16 years. Over the years, it was natural that we sometimes had differences over matters such as venues, reviews, best papers awards, and choices of keynote speakers; yet Ruth was always patient, gracious and, with her familiar shrug of the shoulders and open outstretched hands, charmingly disarming. She remained positive throughout her long illness and talked openly about the daily strength, comfort, and hope for the future that she found in her strong Christian faith.

Ruth will be sadly missed. For those of you from GDI/IDPM who knew her, I am sure that you will join me in offering our sincere condolences to her family and friends.