Sagar Dolas, Innovation Program Manager at SURF

Sagar Dolas has been working at SURF since 2018: “Science knows no boundaries in culture or geography.”

“I became a Master of Science in computing and applied mathematics after I completed an Erasmus Mundus masters programme. It’s a scholarship exchange programme in which you do an international master at two European universities. I chose the University of Erlangen in Nuremberg for high performance computing and Numerical Analysis group at TU Delft for mathematics and science.”

“Before I applied for the master’s programme, I published a paper on numerical analysis of cardiovascular stents and that really gave me a lot of confidence to enter into world of computing and mathematics. Fortunately, I got some partial funding to cover my expenses in Netherlands and Germany. While I was in Germany, I got introduced to supercomputing and that was ultimately on step closer to what I am doing now at SURF.”

Sagar Dolas

Accelerate research

“I am very interested in the future of advance computing. That’s why I applied for a job as scientific advisor at SURF and joined the supercomputing team. These days, I’m working as an innovation program manager. We are looking into new paradigms, ideas and concepts in computing technology that can help to accelerate scientific research. We know that information and communications technology is going to have a transformative impact on the way we do science. With our collaborative experimentation we hope to help community cross the technology chasm.”

“Every day is really different and I am involved in many projects. Sometimes I’m in the lead, but I also try to get involved to help with the experiments and collaborations of other colleagues. We are working with many different institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and technology partners.

Not restricted

“The workplace culture at SURF is very egalitarian and non-hierarchical. People who are working here are very open in terms of expressing their views and opinions. There is a freedom to think and retrospect on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and lot of freedom to manoeuvre. In doing so, we aim to have an impactful contribution on society. We are shaping the future of research and technology. Our work is not restricted to a geography, although we would like to serve the Dutch research communities as much as possible. But science knows no boundaries in culture or geography. We take our inspiration from ideas that are coming from all over the world. So, I think that’s really the centrepiece of my drive and motivation.”

Sagar Dolas

Open and direct

“I come from India and consider the Dutch working culture being very direct, open and egalitarian. The working culture in India is a little non-direct and hierarchical, but it allows for agility and fast innovation. Here, I think, there’s a procedure and system for everything which helps to maintain steady growth but at the same time, it also makes it a little constrained. I guess, every working culture has its pros and cons.”

“When I started at SURF, my colleagues and my friends in other companies were used to follow introduction programmes where one would have three or four weeks to get to know the company. At the time, there was nothing like that at SURF. From the day one, I was out in the field, so to speak. I started working on projects, but obviously needed time to see the bigger picture and SURF’s overall mission. It was a blessing in disguise, because it helped me shaping my personal approach and working style within the organisation. Initially, I was a bit reserved in approaching colleagues, but after I while that it’s very normal to approach people in an open manner.”

“SURF, and especially the branch in Amsterdam, is very multicultural and cosmopolitan. It’s a natural tendency that people coming from a non-Dutch culture try to look each other up. To find mutual alignment, recognition and acknowledgement. There is, of course, assistance and help to navigate through the Dutch culture. My colleagues have been very supportive.”

Unlearn

“The advice that I would like to give to new colleagues coming from abroad, is that you will need to unlearn certain things in order to adopt new ways. A flexible mindset is very important, because sometimes it might happen that you might feel the ‘heat’ of the culture. In Asian cultures there’s a significant difference between what you mean and what you say. The Dutch can, at times, be rather direct rather blunt.”

“For the next couple of years, I see myself grow even further. For me, there is no better place than SURF in the Netherlands, because I like to work in organisations that are that are striving for social impact. SURF is an organisation that let me be closer to the research and education communities, enabling me to make an impact on a daily basis.”