EJWP4 Participant: Hetty KleinJan

Hi everyone, my name is Hetty KleinJan and I am a young water professional specialized in aquatic microbiology. I have a particular interest in water quality and the surveillance thereof with innovative monitoring technologies.

You might say that the road to join the EJWP4, did commence after I obtained my doctorate in Marine Biology in 2018. At that time, I felt the need to change towards a role with a more direct impact on the protection of water resources.

So, luckily enough, I found a position as a R&D researcher at the CEBEDEAU, a research and expertise canter for water located in Wallonia, Belgium, with a long-standing expertise in water treatment (drinking water, municipal and industrial wastewater…). In my current role, I engage in diverse projects, each aimed at harnessing information from microbial parameters to improve the management of (waste) waters. Most projects are in direct collaboration with industrial partners, or with the technical consultants of the CEBEDEAU. Dealing with concrete questions and delivering realistic customer-oriented answers is an aspect that I appreciate very much.

The objectives of the EJWP program fit well with professional aspirations and my ideas on how water management issues should be ideally addressed. Natural resource protection, I believe, can be best achieved by looking outward and by connecting with other organisations, professionals, and stakeholders in and also outside our direct working area – we can and must learn from each other, build capacity, to be able to find sustainable solutions that are effective and also long-lasting.

During the EJWP program, I will continue my journey as a water professional. I hope to develop additional technical and soft skills that are complementary to my current know-how, and in that way form a foundation that is sufficiently rich to make an impactful contribution to the water sector.

We asked Hetty some questions, and these are her answers.
What value do you expect to bring to your organisation, community or the water sector from your EJWP participation?
“I want to bring back knowledge relevant to the water sector, coming from different angles including technical, social, cultural, and political aspects. I also want to transfer what I learn about the water problematics in other countries to work together in some real collaborative and constructive ways. Furthermore I want use the new connections and skills to initiate new projects in Wallonia, Benelux and EU-wide. I also aim to convey the positive vibes and the enthusiasm that I experienced during our first training EJWP week in Athens. This was really an energizing experience, which brought me all kinds of new ideas, positivity and aspirations for the future. I hope that I can convey a real and helpful energy from this within CEBEDEAU and my community.”

What value do you expect to bring to your career from your EJWP journey?
“In EJWP, I can learn about topics relevant to the water sector that go beyond my current know-how and expertise. I hope to widen my knowledge on European water policy in relation to regional differences. For example: What are the main obstacles and how do regional differences in policies or governance lead to water quality issues outside the region?”
“On top of that, I’m keen to improve my soft-skills, especially people management and communication within more complex teams. During the Athens workshops, it became quite clear how challenging it is to transfer a message to others and to correctly interpret the outcome if the conversations are led by preconceptions. I believe that both hard and soft skills are important to building a career in the water sector, and to working on meaningful field projects that are relevant for the end-user.”

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