31 March 2016

Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche


Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche's change in career path has lead him to working at the intersection of science, strategy, politics and management in an international university sector.

Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche - PhD from Copenhagen Business School in 2013 and postdoc from St. Gallen, Switzerland, 2015.

In his PhD, Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche did an organizational analysis of the formation and implementation of a European research partnership in renewable energy technology. His postdoc at University of St. Gallen was a collective project in which he and his project partners studied the contribution of humanities to management education at European and Asian business schools.

Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche got the postdoc position in Switzerland through his PhD network, as his PhD advisor recommended him for the job. Additionally, he had also had a short stay in St. Gallen during his PhD, so he knew the Swiss university.

Today, Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche works as a strategic advisor at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Copenhagen. He sees himself as a ‘translator’ – operating in-between research and strategy development and implementation.

- I’m working at the intersection of science, strategy, politics and management in an international university sector. I like that, and it feels very important. Furthermore, it was a core subject in my education in business studies and philosophy at CBS, he says.

About his change in career path, and about leaving research, he explains:

- The relative solitude of being a researcher – and of being the protagonist of my own work life – didn’t fulfill and satisfy me sufficiently. While I enjoyed many aspects of being a researcher and teacher, I lacked the drive I get from interaction processes and organisational demand. I therefore honestly scrutinized my past work experiences: What made me tic? What was I good at? What did I enjoy the most? In order to move beyond the relatively specialised, academic discourse of competences and skills, I used an MBTI test, which is available online, for my reflections. It is a test that provides you with a different language for thinking about your work, and it opens up your imagination about your work life and which paths you might take. In the end, I could see that my work experiences and preferences pointed beyond an academic career but still within the university sector.

Nicolaj Tofte Brenneche’s advice

  • If you want to move beyond academia, don’t “reinvent” yourself but try to develop a professional narrative, based on past experiences, which has a broader scope than an academic career.
  • As a researcher, you have build a scholarly integrity which consists of knowledge, method and skills – be loyal to this and build upon it as you start working on your profile and future career orientation.
  • Always do your homework in order to match your profile with the developmental agenda of companies and organisations .
  • Network remains a superior factor in getting into new job endeavors - inside and outside academia.