12th From PhD to Job Market: From PhD to Opportunity

Career management event organised by UGent, VUB, UA, UHasselt and KU Leuven

Your career is likely to take you outside the hallowed halls of academia. Exploring the non-academic realm is a vitalizing and thoroughly exhilarating process, but often causes a great deal of anxiety and nervousness. From PhD to Job Market will help you reduce your fears and increase your “real-life” successes.

Join us for a supercharged and future-forward conference on career paths and opportunities for PhDs in life sciences and medicine with keynote lectures, PhD career stories and several labour market oriented workshops.

Places are limited! Do not miss your chance to register for this cutting edge doctoral conference!


Career management

Target group

PhD candidates in Life Sciences and Medicine from all Flemish universities (Ghent University, VUB, UAntwerp, KU Leuven and UHasselt)


Plenary lectures, PechaKucha, and workshops


Friday, 20 September 2019


Janssen: Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Turnhoutseweg 30, 2340, Beerse.

In order to ensure smooth registration at Janssen's reception desk on the day of the event, please remember to bring your identity card or passport, and make sure that the name on your registration matches the name on your identification,
Free transportation to the event will be provided.


Registration is now closed.

The no show policy applies: no-show policy



Registration and welcome coffee

Opening words by

  • Jan Van Der Goten—Janssen Pharmaceutica
  • dr Koen Verlaeckt—VLIR (Flemish Interuniversity Council)
  • Plenary session chaired by dr Ellen Brisse
  • Keynote lecture by prof. dr Mohamed Lamkanfi—Janssen Pharmaceutica & UGent—"Personal development at the interface of academia and industry"
  • Keynote lecture by dr Angelo Vermeulen—SEAD & TU Delft—"From Insects to Starships: Endless Combinations of Art, Science and Technology"
  • PechaKucha presentations by
    • dr Martijn Peters
    • dr Mouna Guerfal
    • dr Dimitri Roose
    • dr Arno Vermote
    • dr Barbara Geusens
    • dr Malgorzata Jennes
    • dr Sara El Ashkar
12:00–13:00 Lunch and networking
13:15–15:45 Workshops by
  • Thary Jacob & Arno Vermote (Emtex), 'Doing it "Write"'
  • Mouna Guerfal (ScienceSupport), ‘Knowing yourself, is selling yourself: a deep dive into your strengths, and how they can be used in your job search’
  • Michiel Humblet (EC, DG Competition), 'A career in the EU institutions: opportunities, application process and useful tips'
  • Jean-François Art & Karin Opdecamp (Hays), ‘Which Position for a PhD after University?’
  • Nathalie Van der Steichel (Hays), 'How to survive personality tests and assessment centers?'

  • Katrien Van Genechten (Janssen Pharma), 'Career Discovery Workshop'
  • Julie Lavigne (Accent), ‘Brand Building & Networking’
  • Cosmin Popa (JLabs), 'Climbing the innovation career ladder'
  • Speed dating Janssen
16:00–17:00 Campus tour



Keynote lecture by prof. dr Mohamed Lamkanfi—Janssen Pharmaceutica & UGent—"Personal development at the interface of academia and industry"

Research in the life sciences has tremendously increased our understanding of how complex living beings are organized at the molecular level during the past decades, and continues to create a wealth of novel insights that are dramatically improving treatment options for patients. While many other human activities contribute importantly to progress for humanity, a career in the life sciences uniquely offers the possibility to be part of a global effort that aims to better understand the etiology of diseases and help find new preventive and curative therapies for  debilitating diseases. Given the complexity of this undertaking, it requires close collaboration between academia and industry. Based on a personal journey, prof. dr Mohamed Lamkanfi will illustrate how working at this interface between academic and industrial research can be a personally enriching experience and scientifically exciting endeavour.

Mo Lamkanfi is Head of Innate Immunity at the Janssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson. His laboratory combines an interest in early discovery in the innate immunity, with an interest in translational research towards clinical applications. He is also affiliated with Ghent University at the Department for Internal Medicine and Pediatrics as a professor in Molecular Immunology.

Dr. Lamkanfi obtained his Ph.D. in Biotechnology in 2004 from Ghent University, and enjoyed postdoctoral training in immunology at the University of Michigan, and at Genentech Inc. in San Francisco. He returned to Belgium in 2009, where he founded and directed the ‘NOD-like receptor and inflammasome laboratory’ at the VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research of VIB (the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology).

Dr. Lamkanfi has published over 120 manuscripts and authored several book chapters and patents on diverse aspects of cytosolic innate immune receptors and inflammasome biology. He has been awarded an European Research Council Starting Grant in 2011; and a Consolidator Grant in 2015, and was elected Laureate of the Royal Belgian Academy of the Sciences and the Arts in 2017. His other recent recognitions include the Prize of the Flemish Scientific Foundation for Biomedical Sciences in 2013; the AstraZeneca Foundation Prize for Auto-immune diseases and Rheumatology in 2014; and the Baillet Latour Medical Research Grant in 2014.

Keynote lecture by dr Angelo Vermeulen—SEAD & TU Delft—"From Insects to Starships: Endless Combinations of Art, Science and Technology"

Angelo Vermeulen will talk about his transdisciplinary practice spanning such diverse areas as developmental biology, systems engineering, space architecture, design theory and visual arts. He will share how he started with a PhD in biology but then began developing his different interests and gradually made a professional career out of connecting different fields of inquiry. He will specifically focus on the importance of autonomous thinking, the underlying dynamics of creativity and innovation, and the imperative of embracing diversity in this complex world.


'Doing it "Write"' (Thary Jacob & Arno Vermote, Emtex)

 Emtex is a clinical research organization that offers worldwide professional medical writing services to the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries.

 The inspiring field of medical writing is very diverse and can be roughly classified into medical communications and regulatory writing. Medical communications writing comes down to the generation of written, visual, or online material dealing with healthcare and medicine (e.g. posters, abstracts, articles, and slide decks). Regulatory medical writing means creating the documentation required for marketing application dossiers or supporting post‑marketing surveillance of drugs, vaccines, biologics, medical devices, etc. (e.g. protocols, study reports, investigator brochures, and summaries). As a medical writer, we are responsible for guiding drafts towards a final document by writing, implementing team feedback, merging ideas, and follow up on discussions. Medical writers are strong communicators with an eye for detail and the talent to effectively communicate high‑level concepts to a diverse audience. Excellent writing and word processing skills are necessary, and an advanced degree in life sciences is an asset.

 A job interview is a well-structured process, reflecting some important challenges in the job market. In the first part of the workshop, we offer hands-on experience for giving a well‑prepared and assertive first impression and deliver questions that a candidate should ask to get to know what he/she is up for. Work conditions, wage policy, job contents, flexibility, and daily routine are all very important topics for discussion and should be clear before signing a contract.

In the second part of the workshop, we provide guidance for creating clear, well-structured, and lean documents, complemented by practical Word tips and tricks. This is not only applicable for writing articles or your PhD dissertation. The experience can be taken along for all written communication and might come as a plus when applying for a job as medical writer.


'Knowing yourself, is selling yourself: a deep dive in your strengths and how they can be used in your job search' (Mouna Guerfal, ScienceSupport)

What´s next?

When transitioning from academia to the industry there are so many jobs/directions to discover. In this workshop we will start with an analysis of what you liked to do the most during your research. Was it performing experiments, networking on conferences, analysing data, writing papers,… ?

The Hypothesis we use is what you like to do you perform the best.

Based on these strengths, we will map jobs on the market that fit with your energy givers. By doing so we get a broad view on which jobs are available on the market.

Next, we will try to build a pitch that will help you to get your first job out of academia. Knowing yourself is selling yourself.

We will brainstorm in groups, think out of the box and help each other formulating our competencies.

At the end of the workshop we should have identified what direction we want to go and how to put this in written.

We end with some insides: what are recruiters looking for, how to make sure your CV does get selected for the next steps.

This workshop includes 30 minutes of individual Skype advice.


'A career at the EU institutions: opportunities, application process and useful tips' (Michiel Humblet, European Commission)

This seminar offers participants comprehensive information on career opportunities at the EU institutions. It will include an overview of possibilities to work for the EU, the organisation and the various stages of the selection process, as well as a practical module giving participants some hands-on experience with the various tests that have to be passed. The seminar's facilitator, Michiel Humblet, has been working as a permanent official at the European Commission for seven years, and before that also participated in the European Central Bank's Graduate Programme as well as the European Commission's traineeships programme.


'Which Position for a PhD after University?' (Jean-François Art & Karin Opdecamp, Hays)

After the completion of their education, many PhDs want to leave the academic world and start another career. However, only few young PhDs are aware of the possibilities offered by the public and private sector. They know of course about Research & Development but are at a loss when it comes to other roles with job titles they never heard about. In this workshop, we will browse extensively the possibilities within some specific sectors like the Biotechnology or Pharmaceutical sectors and which are important employers in Belgium. These companies offer jobs within their headquarters, affiliates or production plants but also generate many employments in “satellite” companies that specialize in the provision of services to the sector. For example, Clinical Research is typically an activity that will be partly outsourced to such partners known as CROs (contract research organizations). The Belgian job market is for sure in demand of high level scientists. It offers many opportunities that we help you to identify.”


'How to survive personality tests and assessment centers?' (Nathalie Van der Steichel, Hays)

Does the thought of personality tests and assessment centers give you the chills already? No worries! We’re here to update you about the ins and outs of these tests, and how to prepare for them.

How do recruiters analyze this information and what is its effect on your recruitment? We will help you to overcome this unknown territory and your fear.


'Career Discovery Workshop' (Katrien Van Genechten, Janssen Pharma)

Work and career are changing faster than ever. A career today is not something that happens to you, but something you can control and pilot. To be able to do this, in addition to scientific / "technical" competences, knowledge and experience, you also need specific overarching career skills to achieve your own unique career goal.

What can you expect ?

  • You explore the main work and career trends
  • You gain insight into your own motivations and energy givers
  • By filling out an online questionnaire you can generate a profile of your personal career fitness. You find out which career skills you are strong in and which ones you could still improve. You are given a handle on what specific action you can take


  • 2 weeks before the workshop you will receive an online questionnaire via mail to determine your personal career profile. The questionnaire will be accessible for 5 weekdays
  • Registering for this workshop also means giving UGent permission to send your email address to Johnson & Johnson to provide your online survey


‘Brand Building & Networking' (Julie Lavigne, Accent)

As a platform, LinkedIn is hands-down the best way to network with companies and recruiters. During this workshop, we'll show you all the ins and outs of how you can present your best self online. In a nutshell: how do I craft my digital business-card?

This is what we'll be covering together:

  • How do I pick the right headline, and what does a good summary look like?
  • How can I increase my visibility to recruiters?
  • Uses of gathering adequate knowledge, and of sharing business intelligence?
  • How do I look for contacts?
  • What functionalities are available?


'Climbing the innovation career ladder' (Cosmin Popa, JLabs)

Discuss with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLabs, and life-sciences entrepreneurs what it means to support innovation, found your own start-up, and pursue your idea as an entrepreneur.


Janssen speed dating: “No frontier in your career”

How to extend the success of science: talk to leaders from different interesting branches of the Janssen organization.

  • Theresa Pattery: Disease Management Program Leader – Global Public Health
  • Tom Verbiest: Medical Science Liaison Dermatology Belgium  -  Commercial
  • Veronique Vreys: Senior Site Manager – Global Clinical Development Operations
  • Joke Serneels: Senior Supervisor QC Microbiology– Supply Chain
  • Peter Meerts: Program Management Leader – Project Management Office
  • Anna Kuchnio/Nihed Draoui: Scientists Biology – R&D