1 Study & 3 Jobs

This column features three alumni from the same study programme. Graduated in different cohorts, working in various branches with diverse responsabilites! Showing you how you design your career and Maastricht University contributes to that!

Simone Kistemann: Philips Light & Health

What is it that you do exactly?
I am a Product Manager at Philips Light & Health since March this year. My business unit develops innovative solutions involving light for especially dermatological diseases. For example, we’ve recently launched a device that can treat plaque psoriasis with LED light during 15 minutes without stopping you from doing for example your shopping, work or household. I am concerned with the documentation before entering new markets (countries) and the registration as an official medical device. Also, I am involved in the editing of the manuals and the design of the packaging.

How does a day at work look like for you?
I love the fact that I can bike to work. I usually start early. Daily, I have  three to five meetings with the various departments in my business unit like marketing, depending how much new projects are running at the same time.

Who are your counterparts/ stakeholders?
My counterparts are the engineers who are responsible for the development of the tools and devices on the one side and the marketeers that have to sell it on the other side. I am not in direct contact with the users or patients. We try to incorporate feedback concerning usability which we receive through our call centre or social media platforms.

What’s your favourite aspect of the job?
There are two things actually. I love the fact that I work in an international company and that I work with people from all over the world from all kinds of cultures. It makes you reflect more about your own behaviour and way of communication. My work is still focused on healthcare, we’re making the lives of people better and healthier but we’re not dependant on financial aid from (non-)governmental institutions which makes it a sustainable business model. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I quite like what I am doing right now; I am a big fan of the company’s values. But since you’re asking me I would be interested in putting my experience to use for the benefit of NGO’s to assist them working on sustainable business models.

Why did you start the Master in Global Health at Maastricht University?
While I was studying Gezondheidswetenschappen/Health Sciences I was working for the promoteam of the university so I was aware of the opportunities offered at Maastricht University. The global aspect of the programme, enabling you to gain international hands-on and fieldwork experience triggered me and I never regretted it.
 

What advice would you give current student and recent alumni of Global Health?
When you start looking for work, don’t panic! I would say it is worthwhile to focus on a company that interests you and not so much on the position. Once you’re in, you can show what you’re worth and where your interest lie; this will certainly pay off.

If you would have another chance, what would you do differently as a student?
Studywise I wouldn’t do anything different. I am very happy with the choices I made. However, I would make changes in the way I spent my “free” time. There are so many opportunities offered by Maastricht University like language courses, masterclasses and lectures which I regret not making use of.

Chiel van der Voort: Sleepy Paradise

What is it that you do exactly?
Together with my wife and kids (7 months and almost 2 years old) I live in Brocanac, a really small village in Croatia (Rakovica). We have moved here, 1 year ago. We are setting up a holiday destination based on permaculture* principles, called Sleepy Paradise. At the moment I work as a freelance translator next to my chores at our premises which ensures us of a basic income every month.

How does a day at work look like for you?
No day is exactly the same. Today, I did some translation work (subtitling a movie) and this afternoon I dug a gutter for the electricity cables. As we are self-sufficient, all days are work days, but it still allows me spend sufficient time with my family. On Saturdays I work in the garden and on Sundays I especially focus on the animals.

Who are your counterparts/ stakeholders?
We have quite some volunteers working for us, some stay for a week others stay much longer (5 months). We’ve signed up for this website called Workaway where people from all over the world can sign up for all kinds of voluntary jobs. We had volunteers originating from the U.S., Germany and Sweden who came here for all sorts of reasons; dedicated to permaculture, travelling or to find out what they really want to do in life. It takes quite good management skills to make the most out of their stay at the farm. Other than that I interact with the tourists that visit us in the summer to either learn more about permaculture or stay here to discover the region.

What’s your favourite aspect of the job?
The idea is that this village, that was highly affected by the war in the early nineties will revive some day. Momentarily, we have around 20 people living here of which 50% is older than 80 years old. With our initiative we hope to attract especially young people to settle in the region, preferably people with the same ideas and ideals concerning self-sufficiency.

Why did you start the Master in Global Health at Maastricht University?
I always wanted to become a doctor in the Tropics. I had been studying Medicine at Leiden University for 4 years when I realized that this was not for me. For my Master’s thesis I interviewed over 80 medical specialists in 25 capitals in Europe and the former Soviet Union about how they collect their data on which their medical advice is based. Although my thesis got praised and published I realized that being a doctor would be far too stressful. My take on this was even more confirmed when I went to help out in a refugee camp on the Syrian border with Jordan over the summer. Obviously, my parents were not happy with this radical decision. The multidisciplinary aspect of health and the international twist of the programme triggered me. I got to meet so many interesting people. I squeezed two years into one so it was hard work but well worth it! (This was during medicine, not Global Health) Although I didn’t go abroad, as this was still optional back then, I had the best academic experience.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years our holiday destination is up and running. We will be able to sustain ourselves completely by renting out the house, the yurts, caravans and tiny houses. In the future I hope to advise others on how to implement and sustain permaculture initiatives which enables me to resign from my translation tasks.

What advice would you give current students and recent alumni of Global Health?
The programme allows you to look at a wide variety of subjects from different angles. Make the most of it!

If you would have another chance, what would you do differently as a student?
Nothing! Off course I missed out on the Thailand experience (semester abroad was still optional back then) but the curriculum in Maastricht was just more interesting!

*Permaculture is the design of an ecologically sound way of living - in our households, gardens, communities and businesses. It is created by cooperating ith nature and caring for the earth and its people.

Federico Duarte: More opportunities

What is it that you do exactly?
After been working with the UNHCR, UNAIDS, WHO, UNICEF, UN Women, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the Colombian Red Cross among others. Besides, to live in 6 countries, I decided to settle in Colombia. Now as an entrepreneur, I am the founder of the educational web portal www.masoportunidades.org (“more opportunities”) dedicated to motivating people to acquire international experience that will change their lives through studying with scholarships and other international opportunities such as volunteering and internships. Also, after been working with United Nation agencies for 9 year in different countries I am also the founder of www.trabajohumanitario.org (“Humanitarian work”), a web portal that disseminates job opportunities for the humanitarian and development communities in Spanish, with a focus on public health and gender. On the other hand, I am adviser/conusltant on how to involve gender and age properly in health and development of the projects. I am part of the coordination board of the Netherlands Alumni association of Colombia and there is no week that we are working in something or generating ideas. 

How does a day at work look like for you?
Everyday i get up early. We have a daughter of one and a half years. Every day I take them to the garden and pick them up in the afternoon. Work from home usually or from a cafe with good connection to internet. In the morning I dedicate myself to answer important emails and messages. Also to read projects or documents that you have to analyze. Lunch at home or usually near. I move by bicycle in Bogotá, remembering the old days in Holland. In the afternoon, I make the necessary calls, check social networks and answer questions or messages. I coordinate two pages with a total of 600,000 followers both. (“quiero salir del pais” Facebook page has 410,000 Spanish-speaking followers from different parts). from 5.45 pm until 9.00 pm we are dedicated with my wife to our daughters. I usually spend an extra 45 minutes to see something important at night.

Who are your counterparts/ stakeholders?
Generally they are educational institutions like universities or institutes. Also organizations that offer volunteers and NGOs that develop health and development projects. As a member of the board of the alumni association of the Netherlands in Colombia, I communicate frequently with other alumni and with the Dutch embassy, with which we develop ideas and projects together with the association.

What’s your favourite aspect of the job?
I have always loved working with people, I enjoy it a lot during my humanitarian work. However, now I love that I manage my time and I can dedicate time to my daughters and to me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I have lived in 4 countries in the last 5 years. I have learned not to make so many plans or project in the future. Uncertainty is my best friend now, which opens me to endless possibilities. However, when they ask me this ... I see myself running after my daughters in a park, taking them to school and traveling more with my wife. You may be working from home or generating a new idea.

Why did you start the Master in Global Health at Maastricht University?
I knew before doing my master that I wanted to do it in English, in Europe. Holland was my second option at the beginning and it turned out to be the best one of all. I am so happy that I did not go for my first choice ... I did my masters in public health because I knew that it would give me the doors to develop a career in the international humanitarian field. The master's degree in public health was what I was looking for to have more possibilities of international experiences with NGOs and United Nations. What I did not imagine was that it would have helped me to know myself more.

What advice would you give current student and recent alumni of Global Health?
• Be always ready to “unlearn” you will need to advance
• Find your own motivation and get advance of that – this will move you
• Health means work with people and for people. Invest in understand people is the best investment in the professional live
• Do your best in any of your activities. This Will open the future doorsand provides you a strong networking
• Set ups goals, and work hard to achieve it. But be flexible, you do not achieve all that you propose, but it is ok also. smile
• Know yourself to define your own success
• Never stop to travel. Never.

If you would have another chance, what would you do differently as a student?
If I had the opportunity, I would manage my time better. Maybe, I would have read more of the topics that I liked. I would not have worried so much about the expenses and would have traveled more, done more short courses or attended more workshops on different topics. Also, I would have taken some bachata classes ... in Holland you need it. My life as a student in Maastricht has been one of the best years of my life. You live all the possible emotions in one place, you leave part of yourself in the city and you always come back to her looking for that part ... but you do not find her again. That's why we always return, and we love it!