Stretching your boundaries. To the limit and beyond. It’s second nature in the world of sport. But what about in your career? Your studies steer you in a particular direction and then you start working. But how can you avoid getting confined to one job/role/niche and actually continue your professional development? It all starts with how you look at things. Keep reading to find out how you can stretch your boundaries.
One of the biggest challenges in your professional journey? Looking for new challenges and daring to stretch your boundaries. Boundaries in terms of knowledge and experience, disciplines, corporate cultures, roles and responsibilities – because beyond those boundaries is where you’ll experience and learn new things and develop further.
In sectors such as life sciences, IT and engineering, multidisciplinary teams and cross-functional partnerships are becoming increasingly common. Why? Simply because the boundaries between disciplines are becoming increasingly blurred. The walls that used to divide them are gradually being torn down. Take, for example, the digitization of the life sciences. It was a profound transformation which had a huge impact on the entire ecosystem.
In the life sciences sector we are seeing more and more cross-fertilization between different disciplines. For example, just think of the link between neurology and immunology, or more effective synergies between basic research and clinical research in the medical sector, to name but a few.
Insight 1: Focus on the boundaries between sectors and overlapping disciplines, because that’s where it all happens. That’s true today, but will be even more so in the future.
If we take a closer look at life sciences, we can see, for example, how pharmaceutical companies are currently focusing on how new technologies can add value. But which technologies are these?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is intended to facilitate the intelligent use of data. This could revolutionize diagnostics, treatment planning, patient monitoring and the discovery of new drugs.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): more and more medical devices are interconnected. When combined with new systems and software, this forms the IoMT. In it, sensors are helping to transform the way patients are monitored and treated.
Software-as-a-Medical-Device (SaMD): This is software that performs one or more medical functions and is usually part of medical hardware.
Blockchain is a powerful solution for bringing together and sharing data in a secure, automated and error-free manner. As already mentioned, the exchange of data between all parties involved is key for the new ecosystem.
DIY diagnostics and virtual care: new tools for home use that enable quick diagnoses, provide access to 24/7 support and monitoring and help decide when a physician needs to take action and intervene.
These are just a few examples of technologies that will lead to many innovative projects in the coming years. Projects that can only be tackled using a multidisciplinary and trans-sectoral approach.
Insight 2: Seize every opportunity you get to work on ‘cross-boundary’ projects, at the interface between disciplines and technologies. Because that’s also a way of stretching your boundaries.
That’s all well and good, but what’s the situation actually like on the labour market?
As a recruiter at Modis, Emily Desmadrille tackles questions from companies that are looking for specific knowledge and abilities.
‘There is increasing demand for professionals who are at home in two worlds. For example, a client produces detailed high-tech 3D prints that are accurate to one tenth of a millimetre. To be able to do this, they need a huge amount of data. That data needs to be interpreted, and adjusted where necessary. We also have life science clients who are looking for specific IT knowledge.
Stephanie De Partz, on the other hand, crosses other boundaries – both in her career and in the project she is helping to launch for Modis Life Sciences. She has a Master’s degree in archaeology and a Master’s degree in management and has been working at Modis as a Business Line Leader since 2015. The division she leads focuses on finding (para)medical professionals for hospitals, nursing homes, home care, manufacturers of medicines and medical devices, pharmacists, laboratories and much more. She is currently in the middle of an exploratory phase for a new project within the International Mobility Programme.
‘We’re looking into the possibility of bringing in nurses from Portugal. If this is successful, we will also extend it to other countries. This could be a solution to the shortage of nurses in our country.’
On this project she is the project manager and coordinator. ‘In collaboration with a consultant and with our HR Lead, Nicolas Muller. The biggest challenge? Starting everything from scratch’, she says, laughing.‘ The nurses involved will, of course, also be stretching their own boundaries – it could be a life-changing experience.’
Companies need to prepare for a multidisciplinary future, but as a professional in life sciences, IT or engineering, you’d be well advised to do the same. Specializing is great, but in the future there will be fewer opportunities for one-trick ponies.
Companies’ fruitless quests for specific (more hybrid) profiles – preferably with the necessary soft skills and with experience in trans-sectoral, multi-disciplinary work – illustrates this perfectly. Demand is (much) greater than supply.
Insight 3: Stretching your boundaries and exploring other (related) disciplines and technologies is guaranteed to open up great prospects for the future.
How can you stretch your boundaries in your own professional development?
Find out by reading the stories of professionals who prioritize their own development throughout their careers.