An Renckens
An Renckens
Economist, European Commission (DG COMP)

Good learning plans

“In my current position at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition (DG COMP) I deal with the economic and legal aspects of competition in the market. This was also the main theme of my PhD dissertation.

“My PhD has enabled me to bring significant added-value to this job. Planning and preparing long-term projects, efficient scheduling, and structured information processing and presentation are things that I learned during my PhD and which still come in handy in my everyday (professional) life.”

Learning the ropes

“I have learned to independently and efficiently react to changing circumstances, and – above all – to think analytically. These are important qualities you acquire during a doctoral project. I believe the value of a PhD lies in the specific skills you develop and the experiences you gain. The PhD degree in itself is ultimately just a piece of paper. The academic experience at home and abroad, the networks, the experience gained during internships where you learn the ropes in the private and/or public sector, the knowledge gathered by attending conferences and writing papers, … are in my opinion, more important than the doctorate itself. By demonstrating that you have performed those activities and gained those experiences, you are able to show your future employers and colleagues what initiatives you are capable of and what other qualities you have acquired during your doctorate in addition to the purely academic knowledge. They get a better idea of what you can handle professionally.

“For me it was never about building an academic career. Immediately after my PhD I started working in the private sector as an economic consultant, and now I work in the public sector at the European Commission.”

Standing my ground

“My advice for people who want to pursue a PhD is to keep a broad view of things. People who want to concentrate on an academic career can perhaps afford to bet everything on a single academic subject. But you can also spend less time on a doctorate , and not just focus on theory. You might have fewer publications in academic journals, but in the end you will be more versatile. Even now I continue to benefit from that versatility. In my current job at DG COMP I work with many lawyers. But with my broad education and ability to analytically look at things as an economist, I can certainly stand my ground! "