Alumni in the spotlight: Veva Daniels Dec 22, 2016
With a masterdiploma Transportation Sciences under her belt, Veva Daniels proudly left the building of Hasselt University one last time in 2011. Now, five years after her graduation, we meet again. Veva Daniels, alumnus Transportation Sciences, currently works as the spokeswoman of the Flemish Roads and Traffic Agency (Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer) in Brussels. We asked Veva a couple of questions regarding her career as a student and her professional career.
Veva, do you remember the moment you received your Transportation Sciences diploma? How clear could you envision your future at that moment?
"As an 18-year old, I chose Transportation Sciences because I dreamed to make the world a road safer place. When I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something socially relevant. A month after my graduation, I had three job offers: working as an advisor for a large study agency, working as an advisor for our national train agency, but I could also start with a non profit organisation called 'Ouders van Verongelukte Kinderen' (Parents of children that died in a road accident). I followed my hart and I chose the third option. This job suited me perfectly. As a SAVE coordinator Cities & Municipalities I tried to convince cities and municipalities to invest more in road safety."
What are your best and worst memories on the Transportation Sciences program?
"My best memories are definetely linked with professor Willy Miermans who could speak like no other about his vision and passion for transportation and traffic. What I hated the most where the theoretical courses like cost-benefit analysis, statistics or economy. I am a more hands-on kind a girl and preferred to be with my two feet on the terrain to make a mobility plan or to think creatively about the effects of campaigns on our transportation. I think this combination of theory and practice is thé best asset of the Transportation Sciences program."
You are the co-founder and communication manager of Mobilumni, the alumni association for Transportation Sciences students of Hasselt University. How did this happen?
"I think that was bound to happen. During my studies, and even before that, I had a strong interest in communication. Being communication manager of Mobilumni is the logical next step to take after having been so engaged in the student association Commeatus during my studies."
Recently you became the spokeswoman of the Flemish Roads and Traffic Agency (Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer). What does your tipical day look like?
"I don't think I have experienced one yet. Especially now, in times where the weather is getting coulder, my day is bound to start really early. Quiet often a journalist calls me at 6 am for an update on possible road icyness after salt was sprinkled all night. The rest of the day often consists of answering press questions, keeping the website up-to-date, checking up on social media, having meetings with colleagues and catching up important reading material. No day is the same as the day before, and I prefer it that way."
How does your Transportation Sciences diploma help you in your current job?
"I understand the technical jargon and the necessity of measures. I can speak and understand every engineer in the field. But I think my biggest asset is my network. I kept in touch with many of my classmates after graduation, so I have a huge network in the mobility field. That helps me a lot to stand out from the other spokesmen in the sector."
What aspect of your current job was the biggest challenge to get used to?
"Well, I'm not a morning person, so being available as of 6 a.m. was a challenge at first. My job is definitely no 9-to-5 job. The most important news of the day is reported early in the morning or during the evening news. Being available in the weekends, is also part of the job. Furthermore, at the Roads and Traffic Agency almost 1500 people work, spread out over Flanders and central Brussels. When it comes to communication, I am a core figure, so I get in contact with many colleagues. Getting to know all of them will probably still take a while."
What do you hope to realise in the future?
"I hope to convince the population that road works are not a burden, but a necessity. We try to improve road safety for everybody and road works are inevitable. But in the long run, everybody will experience the benefits. Explaining this in a clear and acceptable way is my main goal."
Do you have some advice for current students Transportation Sciences?
"I can advice them to not limit themselves to the most 'logical' job options like working for a study agency or working as a mobility officer. Companies often don't even realise the power of our diploma. Our profiles are suitable for many different disciplines. It's up to you to prove that."
"Furthermore, I can recommend every student to invest in your personal network from day one. Your fellow students (and the older and younger ones) will become your colleagues, even if you don't end up in the same company. You will always come across each other on the terrain. Invest in this network from day one, when you start your education. You will definetely benefit from it in the rest of your professional career. But most importantly, choose what you love to do. There is nothing better than doing a job you love every day."