Diederik Peereboom - Secretary General at T&D Europe
Diederik Peereboom graduated from the University of Groningen in 1997. After fulfilling functions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Parliament and more, he is currently working as Secretary General for T&D Europe.
What does your job entail? "I am the Secretary-General of T&D Europe, which is a European umbrella organisation for technology businesses in the electricity sector. These are the businesses that develop the equipment and software to keep our electricity system up and running. My job consists of two main tasks: first, I need to be aware of the important proposals and developments in Brussels, in order to inform my members. Second, I have meetings about important topics that directly influence the technology businesses. Here, I try to influence these decisions by talking to the politicians in the European Parliament and representatives in the European Council. Besides, I am in contact with different lobbying groups and different stakeholders, to exchange information and perspectives. It is a very diverse job, with much variation. On average, up to half of my time I spend outside the office, by attending meetings and conferences, which allows me to meet many interesting people."
What are the biggest challenges in your job? "I have been doing this job for one year now, and the biggest challenge is to find and develop a common position that brings together the different interests of my members. What is interesting is that the people with whom I work come from all over Europe with different personalities and cultural backgrounds. This Cultural Balancing makes it challenging and interesting. Furthermore, it is challenging to formulate ideas and proposal in the way that it will actually be read and possibly used in new laws."
What did IRIO teach you that you now use in your job? "An important skill that IRIO taught me is the ability to analyse. It taught me how to ask the right questions, and also how to write. Besides, the interdisciplinary character of the programme is very interesting, and has both advantages and disadvantages. While there will always be someone with more specific knowledge on a certain issue, having knowledge about a broad range of topics enables you to bring new perspectives."
Was this the kind of job you imagined to have when you started studying? "When I started studying, I was not even aware of the existence of those jobs. The focus was mostly on jobs within the government or institutions. I got to this job because of my period in Belgium. It was only then that I realized that there are so many organizations in Brussels, where different people represent different interests and all try to influence policy in a certain way. I think that many people end up in a completely different field than that they expected to work in when they started studying."
What advice would you give to yourself as a student? "My advice is to try to be active from early on. You can do this by doing internships or different studies, in order to a) find out what you are interested in; and b) to improve your CV. If you are interested in a more practical career, this might be more important than just getting high grades. Showing that you have done voluntary jobs, internships or activities besides your programme, gives you an advantage in Brussels, where competition is high. Don’t spend your whole day in the UB, but explore your interests."