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  • Nationality: German
  • Age: 33
  • Field of study: Logic
  • Current employer: Critical Minds
  • Current position: Critical Mind

Why I started my career in the Netherlands
I originally came to the Netherlands to study logic. I did my MSc and PhD, which was a lot of fun. Towards the end, I realised that the things I loved most in doing my PhD were not directly related to research itself. So I decided to look for a job in the non-academic world, so I could apply my logical super-powers and my passion for working in diverse teams to help solving concrete problems and have an immediate impact on the world around me. As I was about to make a switch in my career to the non-academic world, where I had no experience at all, it felt good to have the Netherlands as a stable factor and not also change culture/environment at the same time, as by then in 2011 the Netherlands already felt like home for me. 
 
A typical work week
Thankfully, a typical workweek of mine always turns out to be different than expected and definitely different than the previous one. So, no chance to get bored, which is great! 
 
Most of the time, I work 4-5 days a week for and at a client, which could be some big Dutch company building big ships or offshore windfarms. 
 
I help them get a grip on their projects. I talk to lots of people on different levels of the organisation, gather information, visualise it, get the people together, help them understand each other and together find solutions to make it possible to reach the goals that seemed completely out of reach at first. 
 
Besides the work for a client, I have meetings with colleagues at Critical Minds, I do job interviews, work on the strategy and the actions to reach our goal to become the number one great place to work in the Netherlands in 2020. 
 
Cool projects
The coolest “project” I have ever done was/is that I have had the chance to work for Critical Minds, help to set it up from the very beginning when it consisted only of the owners and some really great ideas and the intention to create a place where young people make a difference together by being themselves and getting the opportunity and freedom to do what they are good at and what they love. Right now I have almost twenty colleagues and some months ago we were awarded the prize of being ‘het slimste bedrijf van Nederland’ (the smartest company in Holland).
 
During my time at Critical Minds I have also been involved in some awesome projects for our clients, such as building a huge ship with legs (!), a canal in the Caspian Sea and one of those beautiful wind parks that you see out there in the sea when you’re enjoying a day at the beach. 
 
What I like about the Dutch work mentality
I like the mix of being reliable and still flexible and also the mix of being organised and at the same time not overly official, with the most important conversations seeming to happen in an informal setting, often close to the coffee machine. 
 
Moreover, I like that the opinion of everybody on a team is usually appreciated and that it doesn’t matter so much what your actual title is. I also love all the cakes for birthdays and all other occasions worth celebrating. 
 
My career advice to you
Be yourself, which is sometimes easier said than done; still you’re the one person on this planet who can do this best! Spend time and effort on finding out what really makes YOU happy, what YOU would really like to do. Seriously, forget about your study background, what your friends are doing, what others expect you to do, forget this for a moment and just think about what you want to do, forgetting all the ‘buts’ and then go for it! Share it with many people and ask for advice on how to get there. Be persistent while still being your nicest self. 
 
Want to connect?!
Skype: lenamaku
Email: lena.kurzen (at) criticalminds.nl