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Career: a personal development

Courage, curiosity and persistence are essential for a successful career – whether in science, in science management or in economy. This was the common opinion of the panelists at the latest Lunchtalk at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science on Campus Bahrenfeld.

Despite their different career paths and positions, the panelists’ definition of a career was similar. Credit: Mpadanes

The motto of the event was “Pro Exzellenzia meets CUI: crossroad or one-way street – career, what can it be?”. The cluster of excellence “The Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging” (CUI), the equal opportunity unit at Universität Hamburg and Pro Exzellenzia had invited to the meeting where five postgraduate women talked about their individual career paths. In preparation for the discussion, career-coach Dr. Stefanie Schönbach-Fuleda had talked intensively with the participants, who have one thing in common: they all are successful in their field.

Lawyer Dr. Anja Diek is a chief officer in the Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research and Equalities (BWFG) and leads a team of 30 staff members. Dr. Diana Deterra graduated as biochemist at Universität Hamburg, eventually worked at CUI and today she is a freelancing mediator, trainer and coach. Dr. Ghesal Fahimi-Steingraeber is specialist for innovation management and leads a team of 25 staff members at Linder GmbH. The mother of two children works part time. Physicist Dr. Jenny List leads a team of 9 members at DESY and is also mother of two. Dr. Nele Müller is scientific assistant of DESY’s Photon Science division management, where, for example, she coordinates the arrangement of contracts with cooperation partners.

“I didn’t want to be a number behind the desk”

Despite their different career paths and positions, the panelists’ definition of a career was similar: A career is a personal way of development that connects success with wellbeing and achieving personal aims – depending on aspired living standard, prestige, and degree of freedom. Still, there is an essential difference between a career in a scientific context and a career in economy. Although in science responsibility is specified in the organigram, cooperations still offer the opportunity to switch between different positions, Jenny List sayd. In economy, however, power and freedom are clearly defined within the structures and strongly depend on the size of an enterprise, Ghesal Fahimi-Steingraeber explained. “I didn’t want to be a number behind the desk,” the Pro-Exzellenzia fellow explained her change from a multinational to a medium-sized company.

“The most important thing for me is: don’t be put off.”

The so-called glass ceiling was another topic that the audience was interested in. Asked about her personal perspective and attitude towards that invisible barrier in female careers, Jenny List had a clear answer: “The most important thing for me is: don’t be put off.”

The concept of pairing a panel discussion with the opportunity for personal exchange and networking is part of the series “Sustainability in scientific career paths”. The series is organized by the equal opportunity unit of Universität Hamburg together with Pro Exzellenzia and in cooperation with the clusters of excellence of Universität Hamburg and the MIN faculty. Female university graduates, postdocs and PhDs have the opportunity to get relevant input for their career from top-class scientists, female leaders from economy as well as trainers and coaches in the framework of lunch meetings. Text: Adler