Kristin Becker Van Slooten

1962

Member of the board of the Swiss federal

"I’m lucky to always have had the support of my superiors when I wanted to change jobs."

My career path

institutes of technology (ETH Board) and project manager within the Equal Opportunities Office

at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne

I’ve been a member of the ETH Board since 2017. It’s responsible for the strategic management and oversight of the the ETH domain. I represent the ETH Zurich and EPFL school assemblies. These assemblies are made up of an equal number of people from each of the four university groups – teachers, research staff, administrative and technical staff, and students. As the representative of the two assemblies, I’m primarily responsible for standing up for the interests of these groups in discussions on the various topics covered by the ETH Board.

I’m also a project manager within EPFL’s Equal Opportunities Office, where I’m in charge of coaching and mentoring programmes for female PhD and postdoc students. We’re a small team, so I also get to work on a number of other projects spanning everything from strategic to operational matters. It’s very stimulating and varied. Finally, I’m also a senior scientist in ecotoxicology, but I’m no longer involved in teaching or research.

I’m passionate about working for a good cause. I also like working in an excellent environment, having good relations with my colleagues, sharing my knowledge and values, and being able to make a difference.

My career path. I’ve never had a career plan. I think I just took opportunities when they arose. I’m lucky to always have had the support of my superiors when I wanted to change jobs. I studied biology at the University of Geneva and did my PhD in environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology at EPFL. From 1995 to 2002, I worked as a scientist within the Laboratory for Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, and from 2002 I ran the experimental ecotoxicology research team. I became a senior scientist in 2005. From 2006 to 2016, I was an advisor to EPFL’s president and served as the school’s general secretary. In addition to my scientific background, my knowledge of languages – French, English and German – has been a great asset.

As a student, I campaigned for Greenpeace, and my friends and I created the first Greenpeace contact group in Switzerland. It was a really fulfilling experience, which certainly helped me to develop my sense of justice and a certain commitment towards society.

A downside or obstacle ? I sometimes get frustrated when things don’t move quickly enough or when they don’t work out the way I’d planned. There aren’t many women in this line of work, but I’ve been lucky because the fact that I’m a woman has never got in my way.

I’m proud that I’ve managed to strike the right work-life balance – although it’s still a challenge. Since my husband died, I’ve been raising my son alone. I’m also proud of my knowledge of EPFL and the ETH domain and my role as a facilitator. Harry Truman coined a phrase that I really like : “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

L’égalité des chances et la diversité sous toutes ses formes, les sciences de l’environnement, la nature, mon fils, ma famille et mes ami-e-s, le développement personnel et beaucoup d’autres choses…

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Paula Modersohn-Becker et Nelson Mandela.

Un livre & un film

Plutôt un documentaire : Churubamba : Les footballeuses des Andes (Carmen Butta).

Un modèle

Mon superviseur de travail de diplôme (maintenant master) et surtout mon directeur de thèse. Ils m’ont fait confiance et appris la rigueur scientifique mais aussi le respect, l’éthique, la tolérance et l’ouverture au monde.

Un objet

Une forêt

Une couleur

Le vert

Un rêve

Que le monde aille mieux.