Advisor to the chancellor of the Hamburg University of Technology
Nicolai grew up in Hamburg, Germany. He first studied Business Science & Management (BSc.) and worked for a company specializing in international marketing and foreign trade. Then, Nicolai enrolled in the MEDEG double-degree program consisting of one year at the University of Groningen (MSc International Economics & Business) and another year at Lund University’s department of economic history (MSc. Economic Development and Economic Growth). During his PhD, Nicolai studied the work and long-term implications (particularly in terms of education and health care development) of missionary work in Cameroon since the mid-19th century until today. His dissertation was titled “For God's Sake - The Work and Long-Term Impact of Christian Missionaries in Cameroon 1844-2018”. At the same time, Nicolai pursued his research interest in the intersection between trade and climate mitigation policy resulting in several peer-reviewed publications. Soon after completing his PhD, Nicolai started working in his hometown for the Hamburg University of Technology as an advisor to the university management
What does your current job entail?
In my current role, I advise the university chancellor in all of his areas of responsibility – ranging from HR, Finance, digitalization, higher education law, or organizational restructuring and change management to dealing with requests by Hamburg’s regional parliament or strategic development of the university. Thus, the scope of my tasks revolves around all areas of the university that are not directly related to research and teaching, but form the necessary base to enable the functioning of the university.
What are the most rewarding things about your current job?
In the first 6 months since starting in my new position, I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about the management and strategic development of a university. My tasks are very diverse and I am continually discovering new interdependencies and influencing factors that are important to consider when trying to generate the best possible conditions for researchers, lecturers, and students to prosper.
Did your studies at the department help you in your career? How?
As I continue to work for a university, my work experience at the department in Lund has helped me a lot in my current role. The understanding of how research is done and what researchers or lecturers need in order to realize their potential is invaluable for me. Moreover, I developed my ability to work independently, adequately organize my tasks and duties, and be persistent when facing challenges and adversity.
Why did you choose to do doctoral studies in Lund?
Lund is a great place to meet many researchers sharing a genuine interest in a wide range of topics. I had great opportunities to share my ideas, concerns or problems when discussing my work with colleagues. As a PhD candidate, I was also given an enormous amount of freedom in what I could focus on in my research or how to organize my work/schedule. The working conditions also leave very little to be desired and allowed me to fully focus on my research.
What were some of the best things with studying at our department?
I mainly enjoyed the interaction with lovely colleagues at the department that were always eager to help and discuss my ideas. I also feel like I took a major step forward in my professional and personal development. Doing a PhD is not always just fun, but it helped me grow both on an academic as well as on a personal level.
Do you have any recommendations for future students who would like to follow your path?
Share your ideas with others and do not be afraid to seek out help when struggling with your work. Doing a PhD is much easier and motivating when your research is aligned with your genuine interest. Take the time to step back, to gain some perspective, and to think about your goals and priorities (in research, but also in life). And do not sacrifice your social life by losing yourself in your research endeavor.