Work-related learning

This section reflects on the knowledge and skills that I have acquired while carrying out professional activities. These instances represent some of the most challenging situations I have faced in my career, and decidedly they have changed my perception of work and productivity.

Undoubtedly, the most demanding, yet most fulfilling, venture I have undertaken has been the creation of my own company. Along the way, I faced various personal and professional challenges, but with a lot of effort and with the support of my family, friends and partners, I established a thriving business in the technology sector. This experience pushed me to further develop my independent and critical thinking, and my responsibility and resourcefulness skills.

The second incident depicts my first contact with the professional academic environment. During my second year of the master programme, I took a research assistant position in the Institute of Entrepreneurship (Startup Dock) at the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH). This opportunity allowed me to obtain interesting insights from the academic world and encouraged me to develop skills; such as effective communication, adaptability and experienced collaboration, that later prove to be very useful to start my PhD.

The last anecdote is a reflection on one of the most relevant projects of my professional career. I have led this project for more than three years, and it consists of the design, testing and implementation of automatic systems for the control of biotechnological processes. Along those three years, this project pushed me to acquire and improve my engineering, marketing and business skills and enabled me to develop a nationwide network of collaborators.

Additionally, for each one of these cases, the skills developed, according to the graduate attributes matrix, are described. Then, a resume on the impact that each case has had on my professional and personal development is presented. If you want to review the Graduate Attributes Matrix, click here.


CODITEC – Business jump-start

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After finishing my undergraduate studies, one of the biggest interests I had was to start my own company. Of course, this is easier said than done, but thanks to the support of my family and friends, especially to my father’s mentoring, some months after my graduation I was officially the CEO, at least on paper, of Consultancy in Design and Technological Innovation (CODITEC by its acronym in Spanish). The company’s vision was to develop technology that would simplify long and tedious production processes.

However, shortly after starting operations, I realized that running a business required a very different set of skills of those I have developed during my academic career. For this reason, I decided to take two different approaches to strengthen my company. On the one hand, I decided to form a versatile team, which not only had technical knowledge about our processes and solutions but also had a sales vocation to look for new business opportunities and to further develop the customer’s relationships. This strategy contributed to developing my resourcefulness and responsibility skills since I was not only in charge of managing these teams, but I also had to make the most of the limited resources that we had at the time. On the other hand, I decided to search for additional means to acquire the necessary knowledge to manage my business strategically and effectively. For this reason, I decided to enrol in two postgraduate programs that would extend my understanding and set of skills about business management. First, I undertook business consulting training, and later I completed a market research programme. This search for knowledge helped me improve my independent and critical thinking skills, and improved my confidence to complete this endeavour.

The first year of operations was full of challenges, both personal and professional, but the underlying approaches described above proved to be very useful for continuing to function and grow. This endeavour has been one of the important events in my professional development since it helped me to develop the confidence to face many more challenges further in my career. On the other hand, this opportunity prompted me to develop the necessary skills to deal with tasks outside of my comfort zone, in addition to highlighting the value of a competent and reliable work team.

Graduate attributes developed

GSA matrix 04 - coditec

Impact on studies and employability

Every entrepreneurial endeavour is different, but it is always an opportunity to learn and grow. I believe this experience was highly consequential in the academic path I pursue after exiting the business. My interest in innovation, digital technologies and manufacturing industries keep present to this day, as well as the intuition and mindset required for making a business successful. Precisely this mindset allowed me to envision my current research topic, since having such close contact with the industry allowed me to identify the needs to understand the true impact of technology in generating value for the company and for society.

In the same way, this experience allowed me to reflect on my inclinations towards the professional career I would prefer to pursue. Through this experience, I realize important insights in the areas of technology, business and marketing, which have allowed me to explore more complex aspects of strategic management and technology implementation. I am confident that this broad understanding of technology business will be of great value to future employers or partners, who are in search of professionals capable of integrating complex technological solutions with market needs in an efficient and responsible manner.


Startup Dock – Research assistant

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During my second year of my master’s degree, I took some of my classes at the entrepreneurship institute of the Technical University of Hamburg. Thanks to my experience creating my company and after inquiring a little, the managers of the institution showed their interest in giving me the opportunity to work with them during a short period of time. This opportunity allowed me to tackle some of the problems that the institute had regarding data handling and the generation of material for the courses they offered, particularly on digital tools, such as website building, AB testing, and digital content management software.

Over the course of 6 months, I carried out a diverse range of activities, from the preparation of content for finance and business lectures, to the support of digital projects to validate business ideas. However, most of my work was related to the collection, analysis and distribution of publicly available data. Throughout this period, I collaborated with multiple researchers working on a wide arrage of projects, all of them with very specific requirements for the data and analysis they needed. This pushed me to keep learning analysis methods and protocols, to keep a clear understanding of the tasks I was carrying out and the expected outcomes.

At the end of the season, I developed a broad understanding of the methodologies and tools available for data analysis. I improved my presentation skills after refining several data visualization techniques and showing the results of the multiple analyses for which I was responsible. Finally, I significantly developed my networking skills, thanks to several events organized by the Institute, which I help to coordinate, in topics such as innovation, entrepreneurship and digital technology.

If you would like to know more about the Startup Dock and the TUHH Institute of Entrepreneurship, click here.

Graduate attributes developed

GSA matrix 05 - startup dock

Impact on studies and employability

The proximity I had to the academic environment during this period motivated me to pursue a doctorate degree. The experience I acquired developing data analyses was fundamental to select the topic of digital innovation, as it provided me with relevant insight on the potential benefits of data, and a general view of the existing knowledge gap in the topic.

Regarding the employability aspect, one of the most sought skills by recruiters today is the understanding of programming languages. This position as a research assistant gave me the tools and guidance to develop this and other digital skills.


CIT miniBio – System design

CIT miniBIO is the name I gave to one of the most successful products entirely developed in former company. It stands for miniature temporary immersion control for bioreactors (CIT miniBio by its acronym in Spanish). Despite its complicated name, this product simplifies the handling of bioreactors –mini-ecosystems that maximize the growth of certain living organisms. However, the launch of this product required the coordination of an intense and iterative development process and the integration of multiple design considerations.

The development of this type of systems traditionally requires an intense investment. However, having the limited resources of a small business, I decided to take a pragmatic approach and follow a lean strategy with three objectives in sight, develop a proof of concept, develop a minimum viable product (MVP) and validate the product with lead users. For the first objective, I decided to collaborate with researchers who would use the product in the future, this subject specialization allowed me to develop prototypes to identify the most relevant components of the system. This breakthrough led me to the MVP development, this stage required an iterative reflective process, removing components that added costs without increasing the user value. After settling in a product that was good enough, I decided to sent half-a-dozen of these systems to researchers working in key institution around the country. The final stage included six intensive months of iterative improvements, considering aspects such usability, aesthetics and scaling, but also caring for environmental and social responsibility, such as an inclusive design and regulations for cleaning and disposal of the system. Finally, after more than 18 months of development the CIT miniBio was ready for sale.

From its entry to the market, our product has become very successful, and its adoption has grown significantly. Nevertheless, product development has never stopped, and thanks to the feedback multiple users, the CIT miniBio continues to evolve. Unexpectedly, one of the best rewards achieved by this product was its selection from among 16,000 proposals at the national level, as one of the 100 best business ideas to support sustainability in Mexico through the challenge POSIBLE 2017. Professionally this has been one of the most enriching projects that I have worked on, as it is not only achieved commercial success but also gave me the opportunity to put into practice a wide range of knowledge and tools to develop a functional and appreciated product.

If you want to know more about the challenge POSIBLE 2017, click here.

Graduate attributes developed

GSA matrix 06 - cit minibio

Impact on studies and employability

Although this experience has been the result of applying the knowledge and skills I have acquired throughout my academic and professional development, it has served me as a motivation to continue learning and growing. This incidence allowed me to focus my studies in areas of knowledge that have a considerable and positive impact on society, such as the management of innovation, the strategic use of technology and the consideration of responsible research and innovation for society.

Regarding employability, I consider that this experience reaffirms my ability as a leader and demonstrates my ability to manage change. I believe that these characteristics are of great value to employers or potential partners, particularly in complex decision-making positions and in the design and development of products or systems that are continuously evolving.