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“It feels extremely scary, that’s why I want to do it”, was my reply to my manager when he asked me why I had chosen my second spot at his department. By now I have been working at the roadmap Maritime & Offshore within the Energy theme for three months, in the position of program leader of the MUST consortium (Maritime Consortium of Environmental Science & Technology). MUST is an alliance between the institutes TNO, Images, NIOZ and Deltares to combine forces in projects related to sustainability research on the oceans.
At the end of your first trainee period you start contemplating what you want to gain from the remainder of the traineeship. Your first position had been chosen for you, but now you are given free rein to go anywhere you like. Having worked as a researcher for several months, I now yearned to explore a different role. While looking around I identified two aspects that I wanted to develop in my next role. On the one hand I wanted to establish projects and motivate people, for which the project manager role was a good fit. On the other hand I wanted to find out what problems were bothering potential clients and how we could tackle them as TNO - the epitome of the business developer role.
I scheduled some initial talks with departments at which I could take on either of these two roles, but none of these completely convinced me. One day before going on holiday, I received an email that contained the following request: “I am looking for a trainee to lead the MUST consortium.” This was it. I did not want to pass on this ideal combination of project management and business development, and I knew for sure that this was going to be my next position.
Right on my first day my inbox contained the task to provide the flyer for my masterclass. What masterclass? It turned out that was scheduled to present MUST as a “One-stop shop for sustainable R&D” at the Europort fair in Ahoy, Rotterdam. All with two weeks of experience. Flanked by my new colleagues I got the opportunity to present the story of MUST, a running start in this new environment.
With freshly printed business cards saying “Program Leader MUST” in my pocket I entered the magic world of the oceans: an ocean of possibilities, full of chances that this consortium, with its combined ecological, biological and technological expertise, can tackle in a sustainable manner. During the last weeks I have had meetings on diverse topics including plastic soup, seaweed, mussel fouling, tidal turbines, offshore wind, deep sea, sea drive piles, porpoises, ballast water and floating greenhouses.
What could be the next step? How can we provide value? Who is the problem owner? What expertise is available? How can we complement each other? How can we get this project up and running? All questions that I face on a daily basis, answering which can be quite a challenge.
From day one I have been circulating among the insiders, and my enthusiasm for answering questions together with the four MUSTketeers (the representatives of the four institutes) has only grown. The first proposals (some even at the other side of the ocean) have been sent off, and more will follow. Full speed ahead!
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