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11 November 2014 / erikduval

Proud and privileged

After more than half a year of working from home (or the hospital), I finally went back to Leuven yesterday. Going back made me realise how privileged I am on the work front. It also made me very proud.

Gonzalo in action (picture by Sven)

Let’s start with the proud part: one of the reasons I chose to go back yesterday was the public PhD. defence of Gonzalo. His PhD on “Awareness support tools. From team to community, from small personal to large public displays” includes some of the finest work we’ve done, for instance on TinyARM (read it) or engagement with public displays (read it). As a promotor, I was very proud to notice that Gonzalo has become such a mature researcher. I take no credit for that whatsoever, but witnessing how students grow is really one of the most rewarding parts of my job…

BTW, dr. Parra will be moving to Lima, Peru. If you know of a nice job opportunity there, please do let him know! (I can transmit the message if you want me to…)

And then the privileged part: over the years, I’ve often told people that I would stop working the moment I no longer like what I am doing. Typically, I add that I can say that only because I belong to the privileged 1 out of 7 on this planet who don’t really need to work in order to have something to eat, a home, clothes, etc. BTW, most of you who read this, belong to the same group of privileged people…

So, when I got ill more than 6 months ago, I decided that I would continue to work. That turned out to be a smart decision: I typically get more energy out of my work than I invest in it. Don’t tell my employer, but I think I would continue my work if they stopped paying me…

What is more: yesterday, I noticed that I have reached a goal with my group that I had set myself many years ago: I am  not necessary for them to do Really Good Work. OK, I do communicate with them from home or the hospital, but I hadn’t seen them “in real life” for more than six months. Still, they do just fine (or actually much better than that) without me. That again made me really proud about my team.

Which reminds me: we’re still looking for people 😉 If you know someone – or if you are someone – who is strong on the technical, computer science side and who has an affinity for people and how they interact with technology, then please contact me. It would be a privilege for me to work with such people and I am sure that they would make me proud too in a few years from now…



Leave a Comment
  1. Kockelkoren / Nov 12 2014 8:23 am

    Welcome back inspirator and innovator to many.hope your illness is history now and you can focus on education

  2. Shariful / Nov 12 2014 8:37 am

    Dear Mr. Duval,
    Good morning! I first came to know from
    Sally Chambers that you are looking for people. Would you please inform me little more about the job and an ideal candidate. I am looking for a suitable position.
    Kind regards,

  3. dougclow / Nov 12 2014 11:46 pm

    Great news – both your return and Gonzalo’s defence!

  4. JoB / Nov 14 2014 2:20 pm

    Super! Keep on going.

  5. treevesblog / Nov 15 2014 1:21 pm

    You wrote: “Don’t tell my employer, but I think I would continue my work if they stopped paying me…” This is so true, Erik. I “retired” from my university in 2010, but I continue to work there without pay. I just don’t want to leave my students and colleagues. Reading your post, I wish I could go back in time and start my Ph.D. studies all over again, and work with you this time. Thank you.

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