ESR11 – Douglas da Rocha Cirqueira – Testimonial

Douglas Cirqueira

ESR 11

Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich


1. Where is your home institution?
Currently, I am pursuing a Ph.D. degree at Dublin City University, Ireland, although based in Austria. I got my Bachelors in Computer Engineering and Master in Applied Computing at the Federal University of Pará, which is located in my home country, Brazil. Besides that, my academic and professional background includes an award as a full scholarship undergraduate student at Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago. I have also worked in internships and traineeships in Computational Intelligence in the USA and Germany.

2. Where is your host institution? 
My host institution is the Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, located in Linz, Austria. It is the central institution of the Raiffeisen Banking Group in Upper Austria, and the largest regional bank in the country. Raiffeisenlandesbank is a company focused on providing the best experience for their customers through innovative solutions for their engagement with the financial sector in omnichannel settings.

3. Why did you apply for Marie-Curie Training Network?
Which aspects of the Programme attracted you? What kind of advantages has the programme for yourself? I saw at the Marie-Curie Training Network an excellent opportunity to work on a fascinating topic in my view, which is the challenging Digital Retail sector, where there is plenty of innovation opportunities. Moreover, I loved the mobility aspect that we have to go through in the program. I believe it is an enriching experience to get in touch with different industry partners and well-experienced researchers in a diversity of domains during the Ph.D. journey.

4. What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of relocating for your MSCA Fellowship?
The first main challenge was to leave my family for at least three years in my home country. Secondly, the language in my host country was not English, which I thought would impose some integration barriers. However, at the same time, it was rewarding seeing the support and pride of my family when I told them about the Marie-Curie ITN and project. Besides, colleagues in my host institution are motivating me to learn their language, which is German. It is exciting to see my improvements on that day-by-day.

5. What is your role in Perform and what do you find unique about it?
In PERFORM, I am working as an Early Stage Researcher, and my primary role is to investigate solutions to help digital retailers in understanding their big customer’s interactions data. This opportunity is unique for three main reasons. The first regards the fact that I am already based on an industry partner, where I have the chance to get input from practitioners on my research. Secondly, I am also interacting with colleagues and professors from different universities and research institutes, which helps me in shaping the knowledge contribution of my project. The third reason is the fact that I will have secondments and collaboration with further researchers and industry partners. Those aspects motivate me to aim for a Ph.D. contribution that can help different stakeholders in unique ways.

6. What aspect of the Programme do you enjoy the most/ do you find the most beneficial and why? 
The mobility aspect is one of the most crucial in our development as researchers, as we have to learn how to shape the goals of our project to attend the needs of different scenarios and partners. In academia, the crucial point is to have a knowledge contribution, while industry is focused on how they can apply that contribution to solve their business problems. Therefore, this project allows me to learn how to do research with different stakeholders involved, which is a valuable skill for any researcher.

7. How would you describe your experience so far?
The experience so far has been amazing. I can not count how many people I have met, from different backgrounds and beliefs. In fact, I started to learn since my recruitment interviews, when I could feel the impact of what Early Stage Researchers should have. From my supervisors, I learned that a Ph.D. is one of the biggest challenges we can face in life. The reason is that we are not working to solve a single problem, but to help others and society. The size  of the project impact is directly proportional to the amount of responsibility that we have. It is hard to describe my project mates, as each of them is special in many ways. Their different views on how to work and cultural aspects make me feel I learn a lot every time I talk and meet them. One of the best moments of this project is when we are together, and can exchange our latest findings and insights.

8. How does the Programme impact your professional life? What kind of impact has the Programme on your private life?
The perform project has added new insights to my mindset, regarding how to work in groups and individually. I have learned approaches to work even more efficiently in research. A particular change was the way I visualize what research is about. I am currently adopting a methodology named Design Science Research, which is followed by my supervisors. The core meaning of this approach is to solve a problem abstractly, in a way that others can follow your methodology by using different tools, for different contexts. This approach is powerful and has changed the way I see how outcomes of projects should look like, not only in research but in industry. The work culture in my host institution and university is also fantastic, result-oriented, and systematic, and I feel more confident in achieving my next career goals.

9. What are your long-term goals after completing the PhD within Perform?
I would love to keep working on research. In fact, I see myself working in industry, but with an always-open door to collaborate with academia, and solve business problems in innovative ways. Specifically, I aim to support digital retailers in enhancing their understanding of what big data can do for them, and how they can improve their relationships with their customers and protect them from digital frauds, by efficiently analyzing their data, with the right tools and methodologies.


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