From Denmark to CERN to Denmark and back again:
Ole, can you tell us about yourself and your career with CERN?
I started my career at CERN in 1995 as technical student; I did my final school project on "The Closed orbit signal suppressor in the CERN PS Booster transversal feedback system" … my unit is still operational. Straight after I joined as staff for two 3 year limited duration contracts, first as an operator on the PS machine and later developing beam instrumentation for the CERN Antiproton Decelerator. After these contracts ended, the family wanted to go back to Denmark where I joined Terma A/S in Denmark developing X-Band radar, first as developer later as project manager and system engineer. The experience I had acquired at CERN of working in an such a diverse environment with international colleagues and the technical experience of having worked at the cutting edge of technology (high frequency electronics and digital signal processing) was very appreciated & useful at Terma. Now the kids were grown up and had left home for university I tried my chance again and was very fortunate to come back to CERN after 15 year in Denmark to do beam instrumentation.
What are your personal experience, challenges and highlights of working at CERN?
One of the things I appreciate the most in working at CERN is the multicultural working environment, compared to working at Terma where I mainly had Danish colleagues that came from the same university, having read the same books etc.. At CERN there is a much wider spectrum of people and therefore more ideas on how to solve a problem.
Working in industry in Denmark we developed some new ideas on how to make radars, but we never told anyone, in order not to let our competitors know how we achieved our result. At CERN if you have a good idea you can publish a paper and get other people's feedback, in an open, knowledge-sharing environment, which is a technical (not commercial) approach that I appreciate.
What advice would you have for other candidates out there?
Finding a job in Denmark after having worked at CERN was not difficult, as the work experience is appreciated in industry. It is of course a big jump to quit a job in Denmark after 15 years to come to CERN for a 5 years limited duration contract but I am really happy to have returned. I know CERN from my previous affiliation so I know that I appreciate the tasks and the work and living environment there. I would say: “Just do it!”