What exactly do you do at your job?
I am a PhD candidate/Research Associate at the Agricultural and Food Business Management Group. For my research I look at Chinese foreign direct investment in agriculture, typically in industrialised countries. That might sound complicated, but it is really trying to look more objectively at these investments and associated phenomena within an international business/strategic management context. Because it relies on secondary data, I spend a lot of time behind my desk; cleaning data, reading theory, generating variables to test, and of course doing the modelling itself. I do quite enjoy programming and data though, so I can’t complain that it disturbs me.
I also teach in two modules from the Sustainable International Agriculture (SIA) programme. This generally occupies a lot of my time during the semester, so prepping and presenting lectures and exercises, supervising students, grading homework etc. This of course has been a little different (complicated) over the last few years with the pandemic, and I remember once one of my boys interrupted me during a Zoom lecture to tell me about his Nintendo game, which was supposed to stop him from interrupting me!
What's so charming about Göttingen? Kissing the Gänseliesel does not count though!
Göttingen is one of those places with an outsized university presence, but some of Germany’s largest and most successful firms have footprints in Göttingen – Sartorius, Bosch, Zeiss – along of course with UMG. So you have the students, but also a professional, well-educated and diverse workforce. That gives it a unique feel, which I find more dynamic, vibrant, and diverse than my hometown despite Göttingen being around one-third the size. Having a young family too, Göttingen is also home to lots of other families, with multiple green spaces and recreational activities in and around Göttingen and the region without having to travel extensively to get there. And this with a direct ICE connection to Frankfurt when I fly home.
Studying at university was certainly an exciting time in your life, but is there anything you DON'T miss about being a student?
Well, not sure how I am supposed to answer this one since technically I am still a student (please don’t tell my wife) enrolled in my PhD. I think this for me this question is almost reversed, I came back to do a master’s degree (and subsequent PhD) after ten years in the private sector. With children, I have a huge amount of flexibility being a PhD student/employee of the university, which means I can adjust my schedule much more easily to family needs than my wife in the private sector. The downside is I still work evenings/nights…
Would you share your philosophy of life with us?
Do or do not. There is no try.
Which scientific invention is the most important one?
I don’t know if it’s scientific, but from my perspective the coffee machine. Because with four kids and working in research, there is literally no other way…