The Fascination of Taking on Other Perspectives as a Driving Force in Life
First a master’s degree at the TUM School of Management, then a doctorate in experimental economic research, and now Measurement and Attribution Specialist at Google: Christina Strobel’s resume shows how different interests can be combined. One characteristic runs through all her activities: a curiosity about different perspectives and joy in getting to know other thought processes.
When did you realize that you wanted to do a doctorate?
The abstract idea had been buzzing around in the back of my mind for quite some time. Starting my master’s degree at the TUM School of Management, it became more tangible. In order to get to know the scientific work, I applied for a student job as a research assistant. While working in that position, I also found a topic that really interested me deep down and that I could imagine working on for a longer time: in the field of experimental economic research, I examined human behavior in interactions with automated systems and computers. This topic is at the intersection of economics, mechanical engineering, and psychology. One of my main tasks was to connect the different perspectives from the various branches. For me, this is the most fascinating thing about my papers because discourses followed such unpredictable paths.
Was that the biggest challenge in scientific work for you?
At the beginning of my doctoral thesis, I first had to find my workflow. Having an intrinsic motivation to dive deeply into a topic and analyze every aspect of it definitely helps a lot. You can read through a paper and check it off your list. But the next day you ask yourself what it actually said, and then you sit down and read again. And at some point I learned how to approach it: always thinking while reading. That sounds obvious, but it means that you sometimes have to read a paragraph five times to really understand it.
Apart from the challenges, working in sciences means having an incredible freedom: you can deal with exactly the topics that interest you at that particular moment. In the business world, things are more goal-oriented and are not always driven by your own agenda.
Another point that I really appreciated during my doctorate was the complete autonomy over my time. Home office or not, in the office you have to be available at certain times – your calendar, with calls and meetings, dictates a certain timetable. In science, it’s different, schedules are often more flexible, allowing one to go for a swim in the morning and compensate for that by working a night shift. On the other side, now I love my weekends and holidays where I really have time off and don’t have to only think about my research.
What does the TUM Management Alumni e.V. mean to you?
I still enjoy attending the fireside chats – now that they are virtual, even more often. What fascinates me most about the TUM Management Alumni e.V. is the mixture of different people, ages, and perspectives. The events are attended by people who come straight from university and doctoral students, but also by people with ten years or more of professional experience. The diversity enriches discussions about topics ranging from industry to society. I can give you a current example: when almost all of Germany entered a lockdown and therefore worked from home, the reactions differed a lot. In my sector, and also in science, people are used to working independently. In industry, where employees drive to the office every day, this was much more challenging. It showed that for different branches and ages, the same situation can have a very different meaning.
But there is one thing that confuses me when I think about the network. There is one group that is unfortunately still far too underrepresented at the events: women. When still at university, there are a lot of young women who join the events of the association. But over time, it’s almost exclusively men who attend. There have been events where I was the only woman participating. It is quite a common phenomenon in many networks. I often noticed that the networks are either completely geared towards women, or there are almost exclusively men. I don’t know the explanation, but I think it is an important thing to point out. Everyone can make up their own mind about why this is still not working well and how we can improve the situation. I would be happy to meet more women at upcoming events and talk with them about topics that are driving the economy and society.
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