Life after Delft

Devin Malone, originally from Alaska, graduated from TU Delft in 2011 with an MSc in Industrial Ecology. He now works for DSM’s anti-infective business group.

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How did you end up working at DSM?
”It’s kind of a long story, which goes back to when I was choosing my thesis topic. I wanted to do a project with a company or other external partner. At the beginning of my second year I started using my social network to inquire about possibilities. I emailed a lecturer from Erasmus University who gave a lecture for the Sustainable Business Game at TU Delft. She forwarded the email to the cradle-to-cradle (C2C) liaison at Erasmus, who forwarded the mail to DSM’s corporate innovation center, which connected me to DSM’s Theo Jongeling, who was coming to TU Delft to give a lecture on C2C. After Theo’s lecture, we talked. He said I seemed like a sharp guy who knew something about DSM and sustainability, and that I’d be a good person to look into the sustainability of bio-plastics produced in India.”

Your thesis involved qualitative research on how DSM defined sustainability.
“Yes, it was pretty fascinating working with DSM on sustainability in its supply chain. The sheer complexity and number of actors in today’s supply chains makes it difficult to manage. DSM has 10,000 direct and indirect suppliers, but the main contact is with immediate suppliers, and it’s very difficult to get information from your suppliers’ suppliers.”

So your thesis work led to real work?
“Through the thesis, I’d worked with many different departments within DSM. Afterwards, I think DSM’s Human Resources department wasn’t quite sure what to do with me because of my non-traditional degree in industrial ecology). But because I had a lot of entrepreneurial experience on my resume, the anti-infectives group was interested in me and ended up offering me a job as a Project Management Officer working on a multi-year business development project. Funny enough, what I’m doing now has little to do with what I studied as an MSc student at TU Delft.”

What are the biggest changes from student life?
“Well, I’ve stopped being dirt-poor, which is nice! (laughs). However, I also feel that I’ve somewhat lost the ability to ‘steer my own ship’. As a student you’re free to set your own schedule, decide to go to class or not, etc. Working life is a lot more structured. It’s also been a transition to go from tackling huge problems as a student to becoming a junior-level employee with fewer responsibilities than higher ups. That being said, I’m psyched about my work at DSM and I’m planning to stay for a while. I’m learning a lot in my current role, and there’s also opportunity to make lateral moves to different countries or different business groups. I also have the opportunity to try different roles, such as project management, sales and others.”


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