Personal story Technopolis Group

Name: Gerwin Evers
Master’s degree: Innovation Sciences at Utrecht University
PhD degree: Innovation studies at Aalborg University
Current position: Science, Technology and Innovation policy Consultant at Technopolis Group

Ambition: What was your ambition in terms of career perspective, during your master’s?

During my research master’s I enjoyed both the theoretical part of discussing innovation literature and the part of applying these using a variety of research skills. This made me want to pursue a career in which I could use my research skills to answer questions related to science and innovation topics.

Difficulties: Which uncertainties did you face?

I have always taken it one step at a time and was interested in making an impact with the things I work on. Yet, working in a research environment means that it is likely that you have to deal with the imposter syndrome, and are susceptible to struggle with the doubts that your work will not have the impact that you are striving for.

Helping hand: What helped you in taking the career step?

Although I enjoyed my PhD research, I missed real opportunities to get my academic work to be used by policymakers. At academic conferences I met researchers who made the move to policy consulting. This seemed to me an ideal way to both use my research skills and provide insights to policymakers – contributing more directly to impact. A few months before defending my PhD I sent an open application to Technopolis and joined them shortly after my defense.

Personal growth: Why does this job fit you?

Within Technopolis we conduct evaluations and studies to provide evidence-based insights to public sector clients. These clients include the Dutch ministries, the European Commission and a broad range of global, European, national and regional public stakeholders in the area of science and innovation policy. While working for clients, we conduct our work independently and collaboratively with knowledgeable colleagues across our international offices. Our reputation, expertise, independence and international coverage are important reasons why our clients choose to work with us.

I appreciate the freedom that my current position as Consultant offers me to develop a profile that best fits my personal strengths and interests. Currently, I have both a thematic focus on science policy and a methodological focus on data science, which aligns very well with my expertise and interests. As no individual is the same nor enjoys the same kind of work, consultancy offers the flexibility to work on a wide range of projects and tasks that best fit your profile and development trajectory.

We work in a market environment, in which the studies we conduct are responding directly to current questions and needs of policymakers. Therefore, our work is directly contributing to current societal needs, but also in competition with other consultancies and research organisations. This means that we need to provide high-quality and well-managed projects, in which we bring in our expertise and independent and critical perspective.

I also appreciate many of the similarities that exist between policy consulting and the academic sector: I am still collaborating with an international group of smart people that always strive to deliver high-quality insights. While striving for quality, we tend to be a flat and informal organisation, in which social cohesion and work-life balance are key values.

The takeaway: What can others learn from your story?

Make sure to find an organisation where your research skills and expertise are an added value. Also consider the amount of flexibility you want in developing your own profile by working on a broader range of projects. For me policy consultancy provided that environment.

Personal story GenDx

Name: Maaike Rijkers
Master’s degree: Life Science Research & Development at Leiden University
PhD degree: Platelet transfusion and immunology at Sanquin Research Amsterdam
Current position: Project Manager Research and Development at GenDx

Ambition: What was your ambition in terms of career perspective, during your PhD?

I always enjoyed doing research, both during my Master’s internships and my PhD. The feeling of discovering something new and contributing to solving a large research puzzle has always given me a sense of purpose. My final Master’s internship was at a biotech company, and there I experienced how research could lead to development of actual products to help patients. Since that internship, my ambition was to pursue a career in a biotech company.

Difficulties: Which uncertainties did you face?

During my Master’s programme and PhD, the focus was completely on doing research in the academic world and how to continue a career within academic research. I really enjoyed my time as a PhD student and I obtained many new skills. However, I had to take initiative to explore which career opportunities there are outside academia, after obtaining a PhD.

Helping hand: What helped you in taking the career step?

I searched on websites with job openings, and made sure to get notifications in case new opportunities were posted. Also it was helpful to go to career events and talk to people from different biotech companies to get acquainted with different career options. In the end I wrote an open application letter, which resulted in my current job.

Personal growth: Why does this job fit you?

In my current job as Project Manager Research and Development I am part of the R&D team at GenDx. I am using a lot of skills obtained during my PhD and get the opportunity to develop myself.
Research is still a large part of the job, as we are developing new diagnostic assays for transplantations. For me it is very satisfying to know that we are contributing to improved diagnostics for transplant patients. So while still using my research skills, I am also close to the “real world”.

The takeaway: What can others learn from your story?

After a PhD, there are lots of opportunities, both in academia and outside of academia. It is very valuable to have a large network, so if you are at a congress or (career) event, make sure to connect and talk to potential employers and add them on LinkedIn.

Would you like to share your personal story? We are continuously looking for new stories. Fill in our form and we get back to you as soon as possible.