Becoming Future-Ready Leaders in Science

The OrganoVIR Personal Development Plan (PDP) is a program initiated to help our Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) become confident and resilient future-ready leaders in science. The program focuses on strengthening personal competences, practicing self-care and training self-awareness as foundation skills in a vastly changing environment.

The program involves live masterclasses, online interactions and an e-learning platform. In six modules, OrganoVIR’s ESRs are guided by Ingrid Valks (PDP designer and coach and the founder of The Power of Time Off) to achieve a better understanding of their purpose and passion in life, their own identity and how to represent it to the outside world, the impact of cultural differences, emotional intelligence, behavior learned during the modules, how to lead and work from your future-self, and lastly, ethical dilemmas.

On the 24th of August 2022, the last OrganoVIR PDP masterclass began with a lecture that focused on two topics; ‘Ethical Leadership’ and ‘Moral Courage’. During the lecture, the ESRs were encouraged to look at their environment (both their personal and professional environment) and how dilemmas can arise in these environments. This masterclass aims to help our ESRs discover and practice how to deal with ethical dilemmas and how to arrive at a moral solution. It was led by Kim Meijer, an ethics and integrity trainer who is affiliated with the Nyenrode Institute for Integrity Management and Business Ethics.


The Run-up to Becoming Future-Ready Leaders

The first topic of the day, Ethical Leadership, aims to help our ESRs recognize an ethical dilemma, which decision is the most suitable to handle an ethical dilemma and how to lead a conversation about an ethical dilemma. When it comes to work-related topics, integrity is a subject that is not so often discussed due to its sensitive nature. During the lecture, the ESRs learned how, as an opinion leader, they will be able to break the “moral silence” and discuss integrity.

The second topic of the day, Moral Courage, focused on the moral compass and how to use it in the right way. During this masterclass, our ESRs were introduced to a 7-step plan that helps the decision-making process in difficult situations.

The masterclass continued with a forest bathing experience, which is a walk in the nature surrounding the location of the masterclass. The forest bathing experience was led by a certified forest therapy guide. “Precisely when you need refreshing new ideas or solutions, you tend to fall back on existing routines and habits. We need to slow down and become still inside. In the delay, new insights will arise” said Ingrid Valks about the forest bathing experience.

Our ESRs during the forest bathing experience


OrganoVIR ESR Laurensius Kevin Lie during the forest bathing experience


What did our ESRs think about the final PDP masterclass?

“From the final PDP masterclass, I learned how to address workplace issues with integrity and how to approach such situations professionally” said Laurensius Kevin Lie, our ESR from Jagiellonian University. Another ESR, Igor Coqueiro, our ESR from Université Clermont Auvergne, had a similar sentiment regarding the lectures of the last masterclass. “The final PDP masterclass gave the necessary support for me to become an opinion leader by teaching me how to separate my emotions and my profession in a work environment” said Igor.

 Andrew Barnhart, our ESR from KU Leuven, shared his appreciation for the discussion on ethics during the masterclass. “I enjoyed having these sorts of conversations with my colleagues” he said then added, “I also had fun being in nature, exploring the local forests, becoming still and trying to catch some frogs even though it was not originally part of the experience. ”

Asli Aybike Dogan, our ESR from DTU Technical University of Denmark, spoke about how she enjoyed walking in the woods. “It reminded me of the importance of slowing down and focusing in the moment. Walking in nature calmed me down and made me see my social and professional life in a different light” she said.


The importance of the OrganoVIR PDP Programme

“Personal development”, “ethical leadership” and “moral courage” may not be words that people would associate with a scientific consortium. However, at OrganoVIR, we believe that developing the human skills of a scientist is just as important as developing their scientific and managerial skills. As shown in this article, having a personal development-related course in a scientific training program helps young researchers to ethically approach sensitive issues in the workplace, tackle stress, have a more balanced life and boost their professional influence.