Timothy Desmet
Timothy Desmet
Co-founder of Profacts

“Profacts is engaged in all kinds of market research including: customer satisfaction; brand research; advertisment testing; concept testing; and pricing research. My job is to seek out new business opportunities, support our existing customers, and look for ways to expand the reach of Profacts.”

Making mistakes is very important

“During my PhD I conducted research into cognitive functioning, specifically with regard to syntax, and the production and processing of sentences. I worked at MIT in the United States for a year, which was a real revelation. Working abroad is one of the most valuable and enriching aspects of a doctorate. It was especially interesting to see how Americans view initiative and entrepreneurship. They have a different attitude towards success and failure. To them ‘daring’ is important and mistakes are tolerated. A doctorate is also a story of trial and error – of making mistakes but learning from them, of falling and getting-up again.

“You are given tremendous independence in your doctoral studies and it is your personal responsibility to spend that time well. At MIT you could find people at work every day of the year and at any time of the day. My doctorate has certainly played a major role in bolstering my sense of initiative.

“A PhD also gives you a chance to perfect your ‘hard’ skills which is a great asset. Methodology, statistics, and data analysis – you are taught those things during your undergraduate studies. But you really perfect them during your PhD. This means you are more employable and responsive to labour market demands. More importantly you also develop your ‘soft’ skills: analytical thinking; project management; and teamwork. I would encourage prospective doctoral students to collaborate with as many people as possible and avoid completing their doctorate from an ivory tower.”

Going abroad is required

“As an employer I would certainly encourage people to pursue a PhD. At the very start of your PhD, you may not yet know whether you have academic ambitions or if the private sector is your true calling. Even if you have a career plan, it can change along the way. But I think you get the most out of a PhD by taking an international approach. Search for networks, professors and companies that can help you. Attend as many conferences as possible with people of diverse backgrounds and learn to cope. These aspects of a PhD are really valuable. I think going abroad is a requirement – not an option.”