Maria Bach Nielsen is a Career Club DK Advisory Board Member, Project Manager and Techno-anthropological PhD Researcher at the Deep Tech AI Company Cerebriu.
Where do you come from and what motivated you to come to Denmark?
I am what is known as an International Dane. My nationality is danish, and I was born in a small town in Northern Zealand (Sjælland). Due to my father’s profession in the oil sector, I spent the most of my childhood as an expat, growing up in Asia (Bangkok; Thailand) and the Middle East (Doha; Qatar). My family and I returned to Denmark in 2007, allowing me to have the Danish teenage experience, travelling around a little until settling in my own apartment in Valby in my early twenties.
As a result of my international upbringing, I often struggle on how to best answer this question and therefore my response is typically that I don’t come from any specific place, but many – which in most cases leads to more confusion than clarification 😛
What is your professional background and what inspired you?
I have both a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master’s of Science (MSc) in Techno-Anthropology.
The education is considered within the Cand.Scient classification, as it combines technical knowledge and proficiency in anthropological assessments of techno-science cultures – Merging the fields of sociology and humanities with engineering.
Effectively, the programs have given me the capacity to foster collaboration between technical experts (working in various contexts and knowledge paradigms) and other stakeholder groups, such as consults, R&D divisions, advisory entities, international organizations, public institutions, think tanks, NGOs, or universities, among others. Furthermore, by employing anthropological theory, methodologies, philosophy of science, and ethics, Techno-Anthropology develops competencies for assessing technological innovation, which hopefully should lead to the development of responsible decision making within new technologies, wherever we are present.
Effectively I was inspired by this merge of interdisciplinary competencies and the way that the field allows for both;
The Immersion in differing praxis’, when we consider humans interaction with technology – which we know is becoming more and more prevalent in the age we live in.
The practical applications of mediation and cultivation of collaborative and participatory efforts when we develop new technologies.
These factors have certainly kept my interest in working within the health tech space, given the immense impact that these technologies typically can have. As I enter into my newly acquired role as an industrial PhD, I hope that my research will be able to contribute a small piece of the puzzle that is the sustainable development and implementation of AI in Radiology, once we have established the components that go into the trust of and optimal adoption of these technologies.
Tell us about your experience in building a career and a network in Denmark?
One of the most valuable qualities you can have, in my experience from the Danish start-up, innovation, and health tech arena, is the capacity for pragmatism and the demonstration of a willingness to push yourself, your work, and your skill development forward.
I started as a generalist consultant, handling activities including website maintenance, corporate social responsibility (CSR), usability, administrative business development tasks, and more. Even though I undoubtedly had more interest in some areas than others, I tried to find the right balance between humility and tackling the tasks that were in front of me with equal enthusiasm. I did draw on my academic background, but I also made an effort to concentrate on creative problem solving and challenging myself to improve where I could. This led me into project coordination work with external clinics and then later transitioned into project management (In combination with obtaining Prince 2 certification through the company).
Through these transitions, it became clear that conducting research with a focus on building adoption and trust of the artificial intelligence (AI) technology, that the company I work for develops, would enable a final convergence of my professional experience and background with my academic background and interests.
Your best career advice from woman to woman?
Don’t be hesitant to embrace your ambitions and interest in self-development. Personally, I believe that our actions dictate our luck. Find a means to match your aspirations with those of the people, organization, team, or business you work for. As you lift the weight together, while developing your own skills, it will be easier for you to accomplish the goals you set for yourself. Getting yourself to a point where you feel the ideal balance of challenge and focused utility is another crucial factor.
What does Career Club mean to you and how have we helped you?
The Career Club means a lot to me because it allows me to give back and support other women. I believe in the potential and vision that Career Club Dk has outlined for building a strong network of professional women, to combine experiences and knowledge from the Danish labor market.
I often reflect about how an amazing kick-ass woman, that I am lucky to still have in my network helped me get my first professional job after graduating in 2019. In that instance, I had been interviewed for a completely unrelated position, which sadly did not result in anything (Today, I am glad it did not 😉 ).
One of the women who had initially interviewed me, ended up calling me a little more than a week after I had been informed that they would not be able to hire me.
In this call I was given the opportunity to meet with the CEO of a small start-up, for which she herself had been providing some consultancy. She believed I would be an ideal replacement for her because she had obtained too many new engagements. This opportunity resulted in my now nearly three-year dream job with the start-up, where I am currently pursuing my industrial PhD as a full-time researcher and Project Manager.
I wish to be able to pay that forward, and so I’m passionate about working with the advisory board’s strategy team to make the Career Club DK the best version of itself it can be – drawing on my knowledge and experience from project management and the start-up space.
As a plus I have been lucky to meet so many inspiring women, both as part of the career club, its events and network, but also the advisory board itself.
Maria Bach Nielsen
Advisory Board Member at Career Club DK
Techno-Anthropological Project Manager & Industrial PhD Researcher
Connect with Maria on LinkedIn or Instagram!