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Hector Perez's Postdoc Experience

Introducing Hector

Headshot of Hector PerezHector Perez (he/him) completed his Bachelors of Industrial Relations and Master of Business (2013) Administration at the Universidad de Guanajuato (2015) in Mexico. He went on to gain a PhD in Strategic Planning and Technology Management in 2020. Shortly after completing his PhD, Hector began his postdoctoral position at the University of Waterloo.

During his postdoc, Hector worked under the supervision of Drs. Lili Liu and Antonio Miguel-Cruz and had the opportunity to collaborate and manage several projects (research grants) related to technology implementation and the use of data to inform public safety. The most recent is related to training for indigenous first responders. In May 2023, he also had the opportunity to speak at the First Nations Chief of Police Association conference which sparked his interest in with different stakeholders and communities to inform his research. Additionally, Hector had the honor of being designated as President of the AGE-WELL’s Highly Qualified Personnel Advisory Committee for the term 2021-2022. He connected and represented more than 1200 HQP (i.e., Master, PhD students and postdocs) from different universities across Canada.

Hector was an active member of the Aging and Innovation Research Program at the Faculty of Health and a member of the Games Institute at the University of Waterloo, where he also served as member of the Anti-Racism, Decolonization, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Life Balance and Support at Waterloo

As a UWaterloo postdoc from 2020 through 2023, Hector has a wealth of experience as a UWaterloo postdoc and much to reflect on. Going back to his arrival in Canada in 2020, Hector acknowledges that relocating to a new country can be a difficult process. He moved from a warm climate to a Canada during the winter season and describes adapting to the cold Canadian clime as “an adventure”!

Arriving in 2020, Hector began his postdoctoral work amidst the pandemic, which he shares was a daunting task. Fortunately, Hector became aware of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA), led by Jeff Casello, who together with the team at GSPA were able to support him in navigating immigration processes and facilitated a smooth transition to what he describes as an “exciting new chapter”.

Hector’s experience connecting with GSPA to support his transition to his new postdoc position highlights an underlying theme across the experiences Hector reflects back on – utilizing supports and connecting with others. For Hector, two of the most important supports and connections have been his supervisor, Dr. Lili Lui, and his co-supervisor, Dr. Cruz. The way Hector talks about his supervisors highlights the excellent working relationship he developed with them, he describes Dr. Lili Lui as an “outstanding mentor and friend” and says that Dr. Cruz has been “instrumental in [his] journey [and] such a role model.” Through the support of Dr. Lili Lui and Dr. Cruz, Hector learned much and was able to excel as a postdoc.

Outside his supervisory relationships and mentorship, Hector has also relied strongly on community partnerships, working with many professionals, students, researchers, and community organizations. It’s clear that Hector has developed a strong community and collaborative relationships across academia, and beyond, during his time as a postdoc. Specifically, Hector highlights collaborations with Montreal Police Service, Waterloo Regional Police Service, British Columbia Search and Rescue and first responders from two Indigenous Communities: Kahnawake Peacekeepers and Peguis Fire Service.

The relationships Hector developed inside academia have been vital to his work, but the relationships outside have been equally important. Hector says that his wife and family are essential to him. He also finds it important to connect with other postdocs, highlighting the importance of the friendships he developed with fellow postdocs Chloe, Shruti and John as becoming a “real peer-support network”.

In addition to the value of Hector's connections, he describes the importance of self-management as a postdoc and explains that he has “always [had] a project management approach”. Hector uses tools, such as Trello, to manage projects, and actively uses SharePoint and Office 365 to support document sharing for team collaboration.

Advice for other postdocs

For future postdocs, Hector wants to empathize with the significance of prioritizing self-organization and self-management skills. He believes that balancing leisure and work are important for anyone's mental health. He recommends working diligently when necessary and taking breaks seriously to relax and enjoy.

Lastly, he would like to mention his gratitude to the people at Waterloo, “I am extremely grateful for the unwavering support extended to me by the University of Waterloo. Their impeccable assistance in various aspects such as human resources, immigration, libraries, administrative aid, research centers, and collaborative efforts have been instrumental in my success”.