Posted on: July 12, 2021 Posted by: Thomas Hendrikx Comments: 0
Jesse Ruysen

Jesse Ruysen, Content Creator @ Leuven Value Network
(click here to connect).

In this installment of our “Meet the team”-series, we switch things up a bit. Our guest today is Jesse Ruysen – the content creator normally responsible for conducting these interviews. For today we thought we’d flip the tables and invite him for a sit-down. Read on as we get to know this graduating master’s student and learn what drives him to contribute to the mission of ᒪ ᐯ ᑎ.

On the website we read that you’re a content creator. Does that mean that you’re a budding journalist, then? Do you also produce visual content?

“Actually I saw a beautiful ᒪᐯᑎ ad on social media for a content creator role – not just a “journalist” role. It resonated with me because I really enjoy writing correctly, in prose that flows nicely. The more profound reason I applied, though, was that I wanted to develop myself outside of an academic environment – I wanted to learn how to make every day content, beyond academia. Personally, I feel more confident with the written word. Using the right frameworks, fitting images and text in the right dimensions,… these things don’t interest me as much.”

Having been at ᒪᐯᑎ for almost a year since that point, what is the most interesting content project you’ve executed so far?

“Starting with the “meet the team”-series was definitely an interesting project for me. Somewhat more challenging was redesigning the website, a group effort by the marketing team. We (re-)conceptualized the platform going back to basics: how can we make the user experience as pleasant as possible? 

Note that the new website not only looks more professional now, but that it is also a lot clearer what ᒪᐯᑎ is about. This last point was very important to me as it was essential to explain what L V N does and what drives our team to elevate our organisation’s public image to a higher level.”

You mention writing website copy, is that the next step for you considering that you’re graduating in Political Sciences this month?

“Actually, I’m careful about making too many assumptions or plans. There’s this saying that comes to mind: ”Tell God your plans and he will laugh about it.” A job or a sector may seem quite appealing, but it’s not until you’re actually there that you’re able to really grasp what it’s like. Nevertheless, I have a clear and ambitious view on which direction I would like to go in the following years.

For now, there are several career paths that align with my interests in political dynamics, ranging from think tanks, public consultancy firms, to international organisations such as the UN. These are organisations where I feel I can really make an impact, for instance in the field of peace & conflict management. Moreover, I’m fascinated by survival strategies of authoritarian regimes which eventually lead to the decision for my thesis topic.

More concretely, I executed a case study in the small Kingdom of eSwatini to investigate how an absolute monarchy uses sources of traditional legitimacy to justify its dictatorial rule. Because of the country’s geographical location, I also learned a lot about the region’s political dynamics which will hopefully benefit me during my internship at the Belgian embassy in South Africa after summer.”

What would you say is one of the key takeaways from your studies?

“This is not an easy question to answer (thinks). Indeed, political sciences & anthropology encompass a wide range of disciplines. Picking one takeaway is not an easy task. What I want to emphasize is the common thread: the value of the possibility to employ an “interpretative” qualitative approach to research. I frequently have discussions on this with friends who come from backgrounds in exact sciences – their argument is that social sciences can never produce 100% truthfulness. However, to me that doesn’t diminish their value. 

Interpreting reality offers a deeper understanding of how conflicts or dynamics occur and develop, much beyond their purely numerical impact. Understanding authoritarianism in China, political developments under the Donald Trump administration,… These developments require more than just data-driven insights, especially if we want to assess the impact on the individuals of a society. In the end, I highly believe that interdisciplinary approaches will lead to the most wholesome outcomes.”

You mentioned moving to Vienna after your internship in South-Africa for personal and professional reasons. That must bring quite some change to your personal life, I imagine?

“Well, the past year I have been more in Vienna than in Leuven but I wouldn’t say my habits have changed that much, mostly because Corona curtailed life in Austria as it did in Belgium. Something funny that I’ve noticed is that because of my girlfriend, who lives there, I’m actually becoming more and more like an old person, going to bed really early for example (laughs).

Obviously moving to Vienna has to do with my relationship and international professional opportunities, but I’ve actually become enamored with the city itself, as well. There is a vivid social life alongside the Donau with a surprising amount of green space for a capital! It also has a lot to offer, culturally. I simply think it’s an amazing city. ”

As a final question – are there specific projects that you want to do at ᒪᐯᑎ?

“Right now, it’s usually these interviews that we’re doing now (laughs). Something that captured my attention was the Moderator workshop we’ve organized in the past. I think solid moderator skills will definitely help me in my career, so that may be something I can pick up as well.

The reason for that is that I think moderating and working in a public sector require some of the same skills: being able to synthesize and communicate people’s thoughts is paramount in both instances. As a policy maker, you need to listen to the public when they present their grievances. It’s your job to synthesize their thoughts and act on it!”

With these words we close our brief interview with Jesse. It’s apparent that he has a clear understanding of who he is and where he wants to go, and also how his time at ᒪᐯᑎ contributes to this. From our end, we wish him the very best and hope to keep him on board for quite some time!

Did this interview trigger you to learn more about what we do or what our team is like? We are always looking for eager young potentials to join our team!