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At Pauwels Consulting, we are continually looking for motivated consultants who are in a position to bring our clients’ projects to a successful conclusion. As a result, we interview lots of candidates and regularly take on interesting new colleagues.
In our series ‘People of Pauwels Consulting’, our colleagues introduce themselves and talk about their projects and experiences. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Sofie Deroover, Regulatory Affairs Specialist at Pauwels Consulting.
Sofie, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sofie: Of course! My name is Sofie and I am thirty years old. I live in Binkom, a small village in the sticks. Our house is an old farm surrounded by agricultural fields.
What are your hobbies?
Sofie: I like sports: I play tennis and korfball and I walk or swim regularly. Sports are my real way of letting off steam.
I also love nature. I try to take my dog Cavan for walks regularly in the countryside around our house, although I don’t always have the time.
During these walks, I really enjoy the nature and fresh air and I take photos of everything I see: birds, roe deer, flowers, mushrooms, butterflies, dragonflies, etc.
My interest in nature and science led me to study biochemistry and biotechnology back in the day.
My biggest passion/hobby is travelling, preferably to South America and Central America. The nature, culture and adventure there really appeal to me. I’m also taking Spanish lessons, which helps me get by well in those countries.
I noticed that you have a PhD, which requires a considerable time investment, as well as lots of courage and perseverance.
Sofie: I did indeed take up the challenge to study for a doctorate, because of my interest in research and science.
I carried out lots of tests and research on molecular plant biology in the lab and learned a lot. In addition, I got to know lots of kind and passionate people. It was a very interesting environment.
What subject did you research?
Sofie: I decided to study a PhD on ‘energy signalling’ in plants. Plants are important organisms for humans and our planet: they produce oxygen, they are a source of food and medicinal products, they create an environment in which animals can thrive, etc.
Fundamental research on plants is therefore very important, which is why I wanted to contribute to the research of molecular mechanisms in energy signalling in plants.
Did your decision to study a doctorate also have a downside?
Sofie: Yes, it did actually. It’s hard, intensive work, but above all frustrating at times. Sometimes you run into walls, which is confrontational and doesn’t make it easy to stay motivated all the time.
Does your PhD help you in your current job and career and why (not)?
Sofie: At the moment, I don’t directly use the specific knowledge and experience I acquired during my doctorate.
A doctorate does of course prove that you can learn quickly and can quickly process new things. These indirect characteristics which are not related to knowledge did actually help me land my current job.
If you want to continue working in research, a PhD is certainly useful, but I don’t have any experience with that (at least not yet).
After your PhD, you still followed some interesting courses at AMS and Vlerick. Why did you decide to do that?
Sofie: That’s true. I’m very pleased with my scientific degree in biochemistry and biotechnology, but I still longed for a better understanding of economics and business administration.
As a result, I decided to follow a course in innovation and entrepreneurship at the Vlerick Business School following my PhD project. That course broadened my view and I now view these things from a different perspective.
You’re already been active in the business world for a while. Why did you make the switch to business?
Sofie: In fact, I wanted to enter the world of business anyway, whether it was a research job or not. The academic world, where scholarships and grants have to be requested again and again, was too uncertain for me.
It’s also nice to know that you’re working on something concrete. Objective fundamental research is certainly essential, but it’s also important to convert that knowledge into practical applications. And that’s where the business world is stronger than the academic world.
How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting?
Sofie: I met Pauwels Consulting for the first time at the BCF Career Event in Ghent, where I spoke with Jolien Demanet. We had a very open conversation.
“What you like to do, you do better and you also enjoy it.”
What was your first impression of Pauwels Consulting?
Sofie: Pauwels Consulting made a motivated, enthusiastic impression on me. In addition, Pauwels organised a promotion to win a trip during the BCF Career Event. That is of course a great bonus for someone who likes to travel. (Laughter.) Later, I came across Pauwels Consulting again at the Knowledge for Growth conference.
After completing my doctorate, I was contacted by Céline Crombé, who invited me for a chat at the Ghent office. Again, it was a pleasant and positive conversation, with enough openness to discuss expectations on both sides. Shortly after we spoke, Céline contacted me for an application at MSD Heist.
And that application went well?
Sofie: Absolutely. I got some fantastic supervision during the application process for this project. I was given help on the phone both before and after the job interviews.
For my first interview, I was even personally encouraged by the account manager for MSD at Pauwels Consulting, Saskia Van Laere.
That was a great way of reducing stress. And it obviously helped. I started working at MSD in August! (Smiles.)
Congratulations! Is your first impression about Pauwels Consulting by now confirmed?
Sofie: It certainly is. I’m very satisfied with my work-life balance. Pauwels Consulting is willing to listen to what the consultant needs and also offers a lot of space for initiative.
Could you tell us more about your current project at MSD?
Sofie: Gladly! I work as a Regulatory Affairs Specialist at MSD, an international biopharmaceutical company. Our department is going to ensure that the registration of a number of products worldwide is retained by submitting innovations to the authorities, by submitting variations to ensure compliance, etc.
That requires scientific knowledge. We also have to adhere to strict deadlines, so that the supply and commercialisation of products aren’t put in jeopardy.
“Nothing is stronger than your own motivation and will to do something. Try to live your passion.”
Sounds interesting, Sofie! To conclude, do you have any good advice for students who want to build a career in life sciences?
Sofie: The most important thing is to do what you feel good about and what you’re interested in. I think I’ve always been able to do that and it has certainly helped me to bring everything to a successful conclusion.
Nothing is stronger than your own motivation and will to do something. Try to live your passion. What you like to do, you do better and you also enjoy it.
Well spoken, Sofie. Thank you for the interview and here’s wishing you success with your projects!
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