After 7 years in Toronto, I decided to leave my job at Intel, and go overseas, to a small town in England to assume a more research-oriented role. As exciting as it sounds, these decisions are never easy. Moving out of your comfort zone never is. What I left behind was an amazing team of friends and colleagues at Intel and a job where I was appreciated for my research experience. I was actually in a job where my PhD experience was being put to good use and on a positive trajectory in my career. Not to mention the location. Toronto is a city I truly adored. I was surrounded by many good friends that made Toronto a home, and it was close to both my family and my wife’s. Furthermore, I was finally in a country that understood diversity and inclusion, under a liberal government with which I agreed to a large extent.
Then why leave? How can I leave all that and go across the ocean to a country struggling with Brexit?
Research turned out to be my drive. Even though my work at Intel gave me the opportunity to do research and “pathfinding”, it only ever amounted to ~30% of my job. Don’t get me wrong, the remaining 70% was thrilling! I wrote code that is used in an actual product, I flew to China to help customers use our solution, I proposed features, and even led a small team of engineers with whom I worked to get these features in our product. It was great. The only problem, is that it was easy. It wasn’t intellectually challenging enough. Instead, it required very strong communication and teamwork and solving real-world immediate challenges, maximizing profit and building a product that customers will find useful. All very real things that I can (mostly) be proud of, but nothing when compared to how I much I enjoy research.
Research is the dream job, my PhD was amazing – Imagine being paid to learn about a topic you’re interested in, then get the opportunity to actually advance that topic through experimentation and theorization. Then to top it all off, you go to a conference and present your ideas, helping shape your field for years to come. Doing all of that within an environment of learning and teaching and students. It is wonderful. This is what gets me up in the morning!
So here I am, on an Island in northern Europe, in a small town called Cambridge, ready to delve into a job that is 100% research. And my choice of Cambridge is no coincidence, I hope to also heavily engage with the univerisities here and try to teach and cosupervise students. My dream has been to become a professor, but I believe that this is the next best thing: Can I achieve my goals of doing research, dealing with students and learning new things? Only time will tell, but I think it’s a bet worth taking.