5 tips to improve your training in academia [and succeed]

Are you also in such a situation?

I am an expert in my field, but I have difficulties finding a job.
How to proceed?

Who just got his Master degree

I am now leading a small team. How to make sure that the working environment is healthy and productive?


I am managing an international project. How can I ensure a successful project outcome?

Project coordinator

I have difficulties finding the right balance between my research and my private life. Any tip?

Scientific collaborator

I am feeling stressed because my to-do list is getting longer every day.
How to improve that situation?

PhD candidate

Get transversal skills

Transversal skills are competencies that you can use in a wide variety of situations: at work as well as in your private life.

During your academic studies, you became an expert in your field. However, very often, few transversal skills useful for your life and career are taught. Here are some examples:

– ability to describe (past) activities
– ability to successfully manage projects
– ability to define roles and responsibilities
– ability to analyze and mitigate risks
– ability to manage unexpected
– ability to communicate powerfully and adequately
– ability to manage time effectively
– ability to focus on what matters
– ability to live a fulfilled life

All these competencies are sub-topics of project management as well as life management. Let’s look at them more in detail.

Skills in project management and life management

The particularity of a project is the fact that its realization is unique. It means that it is the first time that someone will do something, or in a specific way.

Typical project examples in academia are getting a degree, performing a Master or PhD work, analyzing a new topic, developing a new product/method/theory, or simply relocating!

In this sense, your own life is the most complicated project you have ever had to manage! And it comprises many smaller projects.

Except if you live recluse and in autarky, there are always several people involved and/or affected by the course and outcome of your projects. Therefore, it is crucial to consider your environment in order to successfully reach what you are seeking.

Project management
Project management know-how enables you to do the right things in the right way, and at the right moment considering your situation. If so, you will have the necessary support, resources, and infrastructure. And your powerful communication will create a performing environment.
In summary, project management skills allow you to reach your private and professional goals.

More under 6 reasons to apply project management in research [and succeed]

Life management
Life management know-how allows you to focus on what matters to you for now. In addition, knowing how to be productive enables you to find the right balance between your personal needs, the ones of your private social circle as well as your professional colleagues.
Therefore, life management skills allos you to live a fulfilled life.

The 5 tips to succeed in all your undertakings

When looking for a job, leading a team, managing a project, or your life, it is crucial to consider all the aspects of your activities as well as your context.

The key to success is a minimally structured approach enabling you to remain highly flexible… and relaxed!

Therefore, the 5 tips are the following:

1. Define your minimal outcome

Before rushing in a direction, it is essential to understand your motivation. It ensures that you do the right thing, and therefore you will not be losing your time on unnecessary activities. Have you already heard about the Pareto principle, claiming that 80% of the results are coming from only 20% of the activities?

In a second step, define the minimal outcome you have to reach. If you are a perfectionist, it will be harder. However, the advantage of being minimalist is to avoid procrastination and keep time for other important activities.

2. Understand your context

When you know in which direction you want to go, and how far is your goal, it is essential to prepare for your journey. Identify all the necessary information and documents you will need. Who should be part of your adventure, and which infrastructure and resources will be required? What else might influence your project?

Also consider external people that might be affected by the course or outcome of your activities. Will they support you or in contrast bring challenges?

3. Break down your activities

In order to plan your project, or demonstrate your skills when looking for a job, break down your activities into smaller chunks. By doing so, you realize their complexity, their dependencies, and therefore your guesses about the necessary workload will be more accurate. In addition, it allows you to realize the competencies that you already possess, and the ones to get.

A non-exhaustive list of skills that Master students start to develop during their Master thesis:
analytical skills: ability to understand and synthesize complex content, to solve problems, to analyze and evaluate research results
communication skills: ability to write different documents (abstracts, articles, fellowship, etc) for different audiences, to verbally convey complex information to non-experts, to speak in front of a large group, to speak up
work ethic: ability to act responsibly and dependably, to be self-disciplined, to meet high expectations, to know the ethical research standards, to care about doing a good job, to help others
interpersonal skills: ability to listen, understand and persuade others, to negotiate and solve conflicts, to give valuable feedback
organization and management: ability to manage a small project, to coordinate and execute multiple tasks in a minimal amount of time, to organize and lead meetings

4. Analyze the risks and define mitigating measures or alternatives

A risk is the effect of uncertainty on your objectives (ISO 31000). By identifying risks you are cautious, and absolutely not pessimistic! In a second step, you define mitigating measures and alternatives that will enable you to realize your idea, maximizing your chances of success.

Therefore you will be relaxed, knowing that you thought about everything you could. And if something unexpected still happens, you will already have the most important information in your hand to take the best decision rapidly.

5. Constantly re-evaluation your situation

Because the world is constantly changing, and new research results are constantly published, you need to re-evaluate your situation from time to time.

Based on your last research results, it might be that you need to re-orient your project. In case of changes in personnel, or conflicts, your will also need to focus on unplanned activities.

The same is true concerning your life. Any change in your professional or private life might impact your needs. Therefore, managing your life or a project is a never-ending process… until its definitive end! For a project, it means that it is time to celebrate its outcome, and then focus on a new challenge.

Testimonials from training participants

I really appreciated the holistic approach to managing life instead of a work-life balance perspective.

A researcher

During the training, I identified my role and function in all the processes. Now I’m doing a real PM job, feeling much more comfortable and secure.

A project coordinator

One precious take-away was to realize the time needed for all my different tasks. Now I prioritize and plan them adequately. I am finally relaxed!

A senior researcher

Now I am confident during my job interviews since I am able to precisely explain what I did in the past, and how. Having the right vocabulary is so helpful!

A graduated student

I already had some leadership skills. However, this workshop made so many crucial and practical points that I look forward to applying them!

A Postdoc

We want to empower you

Our mission is to empower people and organizations to achieve their goals and dreams, worldwide.

Based on our +12y experience,  we offer online and/or on-site training and coaching in the following topics:
– how to successfully manage research projects
– how to plan realistically
– how to lead interdisciplinary and international teams
– how to communicate in research projects
– how to effectively supervise junior researchers
– how to create healthy and performing working environments
– how to write a research proposal
– how to get the position I am dreaming of
– how to be able to do what matters TO ME, still fulfilling my duties
– how to live a fulfilled life and be happy

Our expertise

The quality of our services is based on our work ethic. We consider that we can only share what we experienced ourselves.
Because it is impossible to experience « everything » during 1 earth life, we established a collaboration among several trainers and coaches. Our visions are similar, and our backgrounds are complementary.

Therefore, our main fields of expertise are:
– training and coaching in project management, life management, and organizational development
– management of projects and programs in academia, in the private and governmental sector
– management of teams
– research in academia and the private sector
– each team member found her/his own company
– expertise in publishing
– international relocation
– family life

Our services

We are trying to cover the needs of everyone. This is the reason why we offer you:
– online and/or on-site services
– training for individuals and groups: workshops and e-learning courses
– coaching for individual and groups

We are working in all research fields and organization types.

Our philosophy

Consider your project/life/challenge from different perspectives in order to be successful!

The PM-Cube ©
We developed the PM-Cube in order to enable you to successfully manage the complexity of your projects and to deliver high-quality results.

It can be applied for any kind of professional and private project and allows you to:
– plan your work while maintaining flexibility
– write convincing research proposals
– lead performing teams
– communicate effectively
– find innovative solutions
– control projects
– work in a more relaxed manner

Additional information:
6 reasons to apply project management in research
17 reasons to apply the PM-Cube
Cubisma Ltd


The Life Management Pyramid ©
The LM-Pyramid has been developed in the quest at reaching a fulfilling life, considering your professional life as being complementary to your private life.

It can be applied to individuals, but also to organizations aiming at supporting their collaborators.

The application of the LM-Pyramid will enable you to:
– focus on what matters to you
– achieve your professional and private goals
– live an equilibrated and relaxed life considering all your duties and responsibilities
– live fully energized
– become and stay happy

A simple example

Research projects, as well as any risky project in your life, are unique explorations that require specific skills to end successfully.

Imagine that you want to cross an ocean by boat. You need to get prepared for such an adventure!

First, you need to define what is the aim, where will you start, where will you anchor, and when will you be sailing? In summary, you need to define a strategic plan.

In a second stage, the project has to be presented to potential sponsors. It is only after successful acquisition of funding that experienced people can be recruited.

The realization of the project continues with the construction of the appropriate vessel and the training of the sailors. During the ocean crossing, the team will have to face storms and unexpected events before anchoring at their final destination. Therefore, excellent preparation and flexible management of the project are keys to successfully completing research projects.

We wish you a nice, interesting and safe journey!