Week of the International Student
Interview series

Interview with Diego Dabed Sitnisky

"In France, and in Chile, academia was much more a place where things are scarce and you need to take care of yourself first. Here in the Netherlands, it's way more open. If you go forward, we all go forward."

During the Week of the International Student (16-21 Nov), we will introduce you to five different international students who studied at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Today, we'd like to introduce Diego Dabed Sitniskywho is doing a research master in Business Data Science, a two-year joint degree of Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Academic history

When we ask Diego about his academic history, he tells us that he followed a double bachelor in economics and mathematics in his home country Chile. Afterwards, he pursued a master in economics in Chile followed by master's in Toulouse, France. Currently he is doing a research master in Business Data Science. We were wondering: what is that like?

"So the master is called Business Data Science, and it has a focus on business more than economics. It's a two-year master, and in the first year we focus on the methodological techniques. It's a lot of data science and econometrics, decision theory, that kind of stuff. The second year is more in-depth on one specific area. I am currently following the specialisation in management. It covers marketing, innovation strategy, HR, organisation and management in general. The idea behind the master is that we find a PhD at one of the three universities that are associated."

Erasmus University Rotterdam, de Vrije Universiteit en Unversiteit van Amsterdam. We asked Diego whether he had a preference for any of the universities.

"Not really! I currently live in Amsterdam, because this is where the main offices and areas are located. It's easy for me to spend my time close to the office. I do not really prefer any of the universities, I would rather find a position that fits my topics of interest. I'm looking mostly into innovation strategy, and in particular adoption and diffusion of innovation in firms. I was talking to some people at the VU, but I recently found there are also some interesting positions in innovation strategy at Erasmus. I'm currently looking into this."

With two bachelor's, two master's and a research master on his resume, Diego has quite an impressive academic track record. Would he like to implement his knowledge in business, his field of interest, or as a full-time researcher?

"Definitely a full-time researcher. That's the path I'm trying to take there. I believe this is a really creative industry, and I love creativity and innovation. I like how firms adopt certain innovations to increase their efficiency, and as a researcher you can be a part of that. Moreover, a fun part is that you get to answer your own questions. I, for example, am really interested in the diffusion of technology. First, there's a creative process where you form the questions that you will be working on. These are really your own, questions you thought of and questions you will be answering. Then it's your own drive to work on these questions. That is the longest part, for sure, but also really interesting."

Personal support

Having studied in multiple places around the world, we are interested to find out more about the study environment of the countries and cities Diego pursued his diplomas in. He reckons there are big differences in the places, but also in the stages of his academic career.

"There are for sure striking differences between my study experiences. I was in different roles, so to say. In my bachelor's, I was in a big programme. It was interesting, and student life was also fun, but there was not a lot of personal support. Now I am in such a small programme, that I personally know the director - and she is always there for me. She helps me guiding through the process of finding a PhD, but is also pushing me to do my work and improve my project. You could say that, throughout my studies, the level of support has been increasing."

Especially in the Netherlands, Diego tells us.

"In The Netherlands I've definitely found the most open and supporting people. People are generally open to new ideas, whatever you come up with. People are supportive - in the sense that they give you a lot of feedback, and everything is seen as a collaborative process. Before, I felt there was more a sense of competition. In France, and in Chile, academia was more a place where things are scarce and you need to take care of yourself first. Here, it's way more open. If you go forward, we all go forward."

It sounds like Diego has found a place he likes. Is he also interested in staying in the Netherlands when he finishes the research master?

"For sure, especially for the PhD of course. But also afterwards, I'd definitely be interested in staying. Of course, my first priority is to teach, and do research. I would also really like to go in the international job market, as in our field of expertise, it doesn't really matter where you come from. The preference, however, is staying in the Netherlands."

We are glad to hear that! Lastly, Diego would like to help out some future international students from Chile with some advice:

"Prepare for the rain! Haha! In Santiago it rains 2-3 days a year, and that is definitely different here. Also, when you are using your bike, stay clear of the rails for the tram. I was in the Netherlands for a couple of days when I had an accident when I drove my slim tires into the train tracks. Invest in a good bike, with sturdy tires. And a good lock!"

The EUR Alumni Relations office had a great time interviewing Diego, and we wish him the best of luck with his academic career. Also, we'd love to welcome him at Erasmus University Rotterdam after his research master!