Why a PhD adds a business perspective to his technical skill set with Vincent Coppé
I’m a computer science PhD; specifically, I studied a mathematical engineering subbranch that mainly focuses on creating algorithms. During my studies, I learned how to make computer algorithms more memory and time-efficient.
I planned to do a postdoc in Sweden but chose to see the industry instead. The consultancy route made a lot of sense because I wanted to test different cultures and companies. So far, I have seen three of them.
During my PhD, I worked on a thesis, and in the end, it was a small booklet that sits in a library and probably will never be read again. So, I was keen to work on something creating more value for society.
My goal in perhaps five years is to be working on something valuable for society itself. The way that Dominique likes to put it, “in academia, you’re creating little value with high risk, while in the business world, you try to create maximum value with minimal risk.”
THE DIGITAL TWIN PROJECT
One of my current projects involves working for a client’s enterprise business department. My track within this project concentrates on a consumer business product line.
Analysing data is not a problem for me; I’ve been doing that for quite a few years. However, conducting user interviews, visualising the insights, and communicating to management are all new. This project has allowed me to start learning that strategic aspect and further develop my soft skills.
I help my colleagues with data analysis, and in turn, they coach me in creating slides with strategic intent. I’ve been a part of the steerco meetings in this project which has taught me a great deal. I didn’t have this input from my PhD background; I made a lot of excellent figures, but not in PowerPoint.
In an academic context, it doesn’t 100% matter what you’re trying to prove. In the end, as long as you have something to prove or disprove, both are fine. However, in the business world, things are done with a motive, i.e., to save money or create extra value. These additional dimensions I’m learning in small steps.