Project Manager Eco-toxicology and Toxicology, Umicore
Developing a network
“At Umicore I am part of an R&D team that works for various business units within the company. I run tests on our production lines and then analyse and interpret the results.
“This is my first job since I gained my doctorate and the network I developed during my time at university still comes in very handy. During my PhD I participated in a European project that developed alternative eco-toxicological tests. Supported by 35 partner organisations, it brought together many skilled researchers on whose expertise I can still draw.
“Before my PhD I pursued a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences. I primarily chose that option for the diversity and versatility it offered. At the end of my Master’s degree, I felt that I knew something about a lot of things, but nothing in detail. My PhD in eco-toxicology changed that and has given me more in-depth knowlegde.”
Stay calm when problems occur
“My PhD has given me tranquility. At the start of my doctoral research, the slightest glitch meant disaster. Today,substantial challenges are more manageable. You detect a problem, remain calm, and look for possible solutions. What has changed is the level of responsibility. Previously, if anything failed, it was a setback only for myself. Umicore employs approximately 14,000 people. Here, every decision taken has consequences as it can provide solutions for thousands of people. I feel like a fish in water. There are currently two of us in my department. Within five years I can see myself still working at Umicore, and in the same department. But I will be part of a much larger team that I have helped to develop!
“I would definitely encourage students to pursue a doctoral degree. As to your subsequent career, it is advisable to look for a first job which is more or less an extension of your academic achievements. As you gain more experience and (self-) confidence, you can move on to other challenges.”