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Dietmar Hertsen

Dietmar Hertsen talks about his job

Like most NLO trainees, I came here straight from an academic environment. I took a degree in bioscience engineering, then went on to do a PhD in quantum chemistry. During this time, I briefly worked with my current colleague Ben. After that we lost touch for a bit, but when I finished my doctorate he asked me if I knew what I wanted to do next. I had no idea, but was certain I didn't want to stay in an academic environment. So he invited me to visit NLO and see where he worked, and I spent two hours talking to him about it. He was so enthusiastic about what he was doing, I applied straightaway after that.

I still wanted to use my scientific knowledge, but didn’t want to carry on working in a lab. Now I’m really learning to think and use my knowledge differently. For instance, I’m taking a much broader approach to everything I’ve learned, and it's incredibly fascinating. So although I’m still involved in science, the pace here is much faster. That dynamism really appeals to me.

If the academic world is to make progress, it needs the support of the patent industry.

What makes NLO different from other patent and trademark consultancies is its horizontal structure. We work in patent teams where everyone is treated the same, from the formalities officer to the team leader.  It’s a very friendly and cooperative atmosphere. We all respect each other, since we’re all ultimately working towards the same goal. I also enjoy the Dutch approach to communication: you can be completely direct and come straight to the point. 

During my first year, I was constantly being dragged out of my comfort zone. You never know in advance what’s going to happen each day. And that means you've got to keep your wits about you and never assume you know it all. You’re also given plenty of opportunities, such as the freedom to develop what interests you within your own capabilities, and you're continually being pushed to get the best out of yourself. So if you're looking for a challenge of that kind, look no further!