“I grew up in Eindhoven and went to the swimming pool every week. Even then, I adored being underwater: it’s a completely peaceful and silent world. When our swimming lessons were over, we were followed by a group of divers. I remember thinking it looked fun, but decided to stick with competitive swimming.
After high school, I went to Scotland, where I studied physics and earned my PhD. I returned to the Netherlands in 2013 and started work at Eindhoven University of Technology, where I also took a diving course and immediately got hooked. Even more than with ordinary swimming, diving really immerses you in a silent world and forces you to rely entirely on yourself, especially when you swim out into the open water for the first time: you can hardly see a thing and are completely dependent on your depth and pressure gauges. I’ve now progressed to the level of trainee dive-master and regularly oversee lessons. Being with the participants often reminds me of how excited I was before making my first dive.
I think teaching is in my blood. My mother was a teacher and when I was doing my PhD in Scotland I regularly did tutorials with the undergraduates. The transfer of knowledge at NLO also fascinates me. How to get across the specific knowledge you have as effectively as possible in order to achieve your goal.
However, I also think it’s vital to keep on acquiring new knowledge yourself. As a trainee, I’m currently learning about Dutch and EU patent law, for example. When you’re doing research you’re primarily searching for the answers yourself, whereas in the patent business your main job is to try and explain why certain answers are right. It’s less black and white. I’m also given the opportunity to keep on immersing myself in new subjects, and working in a commercial environment is another new experience.
Obviously a new job and training take up a lot of time, but I’ll always carry on making time for diving. I do it almost every weekend and also try to spend a week diving abroad each year, where there are many new underwater worlds for me to discover. I like to have a goal when I’m on these trips; it needn’t be a beautiful coral or an unusual species of fish. For instance, I’m keen to do another dive in Scapa Flow, a bay in Scotland where there are some unusual shipwrecks on the seabed. My favourite destinations are authentic places with a story to tell. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia was wonderful, but using your knowledge and experience to go to the aid of a novice diver in the unpredictable seas off the coast of Zeeland province is just as satisfying.”
2018 was a special year as it’s the year NLO celebrated its 130th anniversary. Over all those years, there’s one specific element that really forms the core of our firm; our people. Professionals who put all their effort in helping clients in any way they can. However, they are far more than IP professionals. We would like to give you some insight in the real people behind NLO. We proudly introduce to you some of our colleagues. This Thursday: Satoru Sakai.