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Flash interview with alumnus Alejandro Zendejas

International alumnus Alejandro tells us in a flash about why it is so important to physically be in Leiden for your studies, about how important his Advanced Master was to his employers and how AI and tech affects his line of work.

Why did you choose Leiden University at the time? Have your expectations been met?

Leiden University was always my first choice. Rationale for my decision was primarily based on the overall reputation of the University, combined with a group of professors who were standard bearers in my field of interest. Additionally, the organisation of the curricula as well as the avantgarde of the programme made it my number one choice. Yes, my expectations have even been surpassed. Leiden University was a platform from which I could build up a robust professional career.

How has your period in Leiden shaped you and contributed to what you know and how you handle things?

From a professional standpoint Leiden University gave me the opportunity to get to know worldwide points of view in my field of expertise. Academically, Leiden provided me with the set of skills specifically required to develop a very comprehensive and complete professional expertise. I was for example able to further develop my legal research skills, using both traditional methods as modern legal search engines. My skills in legal writing and argumentative theory in the field of law also improved greatly. 

Was it important to be physically present in Leiden for your Advanced Master and if so, why? What would your ultimate tip/advice be for other international students?

It was really important! First of all, because of the exposure you have to different idiosyncrasies and ways of understanding the same issue. This gives you an invaluable set of tools that will allow you to properly assess matters you will be facing in your career. In addition, being physically in Leiden provided the opportunity to really focus on my studies because the country is so stable, safe and prosperous. Finally, it brought me solid and long-lasting friendships that would, eventually, also be part of my professional network. My advice to international students would therefore be: to really take advantage of your time in Leiden!

What occupation are you in at the moment? Has the Advanced Master helped you in obtaining this job? At the last alumni event; Leiden Revisited, you were one of the alumni who did a pitch on your work, related to AI, tech and law. Can you briefly summarise what you pitched? What inspires you most about your current job?

Currently I am a Senior Counsel to one of Mexico's foremost law firms. My employers, also former, have all confirmed that my Advanced Master played an important role in employing me. About my pitch, which by the way was great to do and it was so much fun to 'meet' other alumni again: artificial intelligence is developing at a very rapid pace. Most of unmanned aircaft vehicels (UAVs) and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RAPAS), heavily rely on algorithms developed by AI. In addition, the resulting data being obtained from UAVs and RAPAS is also relying on algorithms that evolve and adapt to their day-to-day activities based on AI. As a consequence, public and private international law, as well as domestic legislations, are facing a faster paced challenge to regulate and solve problems arising from data being collected, stored, interpreted and utilised by UAVs and RAPAS. It is a challenge for professionals in the aviation law field to come up with ingenious, quick and adaptable solutions to assess the issues arising from the use of UAVs and RAPAS. I don't think I need to tell you what inspires me most about my job, how great is it to be part of all this?

To conclude (and to get back to where it all started: Leiden), what was your favourite (hot)spot in Leiden?

Without a doubt - Bagel & Beans on the Haarlemmerstraat 38! 


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