The SENDER project is pleased to dedicate this series of articles to our hashtagfemale researchers to present their journey to becoming a hashtagresearcher, the challenges they encountered along the way and the most important lessons they learned.

As part of SENDER, we interviewed Ms Estibaliz Arzoz Fernandez, Project manager in EU research projects at TRIALOG, an independent company offering the integration of innovative technologies into industrial information systems, their validation, interoperability, the Internet of Things platform and key cross-functional technologies for cybersecurity and privacy protection.

Career and challenges

Q.: Ms Estibaliz Arzoz Fernandez, can you tell us about your journey to becoming a researcher (highlighting pivotal moments), the challenges you encountered along the way and the most important lesson you learned?

Ms Estibaliz Arzoz Fernandez: The journey has been long as it has not been really easy in the beginning as a young woman in my country (I work for a French company in France but I am Spanish), I found more prejudices and was asked more personal questions than men were asked for). I became a project management leader in research projects but also a researcher in the field of privacy. During my last 10 years, I have been exploring the EU research field in many different projects, as deputy coordinator or as a researcher, from the robots field to the drones (UAV) or CAM Connected Automated Vehicles or the Smart charging in Electrical Vehicles. When I take a glimpse now to the past, I feel proud to overcome the scientific and management challenges that each project has put me through. And now, I can support other juniors with my experience but also foresee new challenges in a short term to become a more senior position in research business. I am always thinking in progressing and gain more experience to achieve more responsibility positions.

Role in the project

Q.: What do you do within the SENDER project? How have your studies and expertise enabled you to fulfil this role?

Ms Estibaliz Arzoz Fernandez: I am the project manager of Trialog in the project and the WP4 leader which integrates and support the privacy and security management within the project. I am the DPO appointed for the project and coordinate the data management within the project and more important, supporting the pilots in Finland, Austria and Spain with the Consent agreements, data controller and data processor agreements, data lifecycle…etc.

My background is engineer of Telecommunications, specialty in communication systems by the EHU-UPV (University of the Basque Country, Engineering School of Bilbao) and I became an experienced researcher in the field of privacy applied in different sectors during my last 10 years working through projects such as PARIS (PrivAcy pReserving Infrastructure for Surveillance), PRIPARE (PReparing Industry to Privacy-by-design by supporting its Application in REsearch), PDP4E (Privacy Data Protection 4 Engineering), but also in other research fields such as ACCRA (Agile CoCreation of Robots for Ageing), MAESHA, InterConnect…etc.


Q.: At European level, do you think the research sector has become more open to women? What could be done to achieve greater equality between men and women in this field?

Ms Estibaliz Arzoz Fernandez: Yes, I really believe that the research sector in Europe is much more open to women these days. But there is still work to do, because you still find today many research areas such as social sciences or automotive engineering where are clearly near 100% women or men researchers in each field. This means that it is still needed a different perspective of some research fields where women are most of the researchers and where men are most of the researchers. It is needed by both genders to get more into all research fields.]

Q.: As an expert in energy field, what do you see as Europe’s biggest challenge in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables?

Ms Estibaliz Arzoz Fernandez: The biggest challenge is to achieve an affordable new way of technologies to get energy from the renewable and make it possible to the majority of population. It is still difficult to have PV panels at houses, wind mills, Electrical Vehicles for any user as the technology in the market is in many cases not affordable for many social layers. Although financing programs from governments have improved the deployment of renewables, we are still not so close to democratize renewables, EVs for everybody. An EV is around the double in price and the half in terms of autonomy in comparison to a fossil fuel Vehicle. It is needed to work in reducing these barriers while we research about other ways of less energy consumption such as flexibility integration in new technologies. And this passes by reducing the cost of technological products.

Q.: Finally, what advice would you give to future generations of women who want to become researchers?

“Do not listen to others who tell you that it’s not for you or that it’s too much for you. Always listen to yourself, to what you love, to what you want to become one day, to what fulfills you professionally and personally. That’s what you have to listen to and go for it. The more difficult it seems, the more of a challenge it is, the more it will interest you. That’s what science and research is all about, a challenging way of living and working but very comforting and interesting as we try to achieve new goals for a more resilient and sustainable society, that’s what matters most.”