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Flash interview with Argentinian alumnus José Figuerero

Alumnus José Figuerero tells us about how a Criminologist can work at Booking.com and why he would have liked to have had more law-related courses in his master's programme.

What did you study and when? What made you choose Leiden?

I did an MSc in Crime and Criminal Justice. I chose Leiden University due to its international reputation, and due to the internships the programme offered.

Did it live up to your expectations? Which expectations have been fulfilled and which ones haven’t? What type of student were you?

Overall, it did. By far, the best experience was an internship I took that allowed me to conduct research in the Rotterdam Detention Centre. That is something I will never forget, and it was a very enriching experience. For me it was also the first time doing criminology research, so I had a lot to learn. Some expectations were not met, but probably no master's programme would have fulfilled all my expectations.

What was your favourite restaurant/bar in Leiden back then and why?

Einstein! I have been there many times with my friends. I love that the terrace faces the canal, which was perfect for an after class. But they also organised some parties, and I liked that they played Latin music.

Knowing what you know now, is there something you would’ve wanted to be able to do during your studies? E.g. a specific course that wasn’t taught back then, or an internship or something that you have missed?

I wish the degree had had more law-related courses. I think the Dutch version of the master’s had more variety in that regard. I would have liked to have courses, or at least guest lectures, on subjects like cybercrime, money laundering, and terrorism. These are very relevant, challenging, and international problems for criminal lawyers and criminologists. Especially due to the proximity to international organisations like Europol, it could have been a great addition to the curriculum.

Can you give a quick recap of your career so far and has this always been your intention/goal?

I started my career in Argentina, where I studied law. I became a lawyer and practised criminal law for more than five years at a law firm. During my tenure in the law firm, I developed a strong interest in cybercrime. In 2017 I moved to Amsterdam, and started my master’s degree at Leiden University. As I mentioned before, I conducted research at the Rotterdam Detention Centre, where I went approximately three times a week for three months. It was one of the most interesting experiences I ever had. After completing the master’s degree, I worked for Philips, ING, and then joined Booking.com, where I am currently working. I spent two years working in the Fraud prevention department, and I then moved to the Trust & Safety team, at the Security department. 

Where are you working at the moment and do you still make use of your Criminology degree?

I am working at the Security department for Booking.com. We have a global scope, and we aim to detect, mitigate, and prevent safety issues on our platform (i.e. organised crime), so our customers can experience the world safe and sound.
I don’t really use the degree per se, but it definitely helped me develop analytical and critical skills which I apply on a daily basis. The mindset of an investigator, and the knowledge on how criminals think, it’s also very useful in my job. 

Your alma mater would like to have more of an impact on society, what would be your advice for us?

To provide more opportunities for students from developing countries, by, for example, introducing more funding opportunities or scholarships.

You are not Dutch, what was the thing you really had to get used to in the Netherlands? 

The rain! This year the weather was pretty good, but the amount of rain the Netherlands gets per day is quite unbelievable!

Finally, to get to know you even better, a very personal question: what is your guilty pleasure?

Watching Impractical Jokers until 2 am.

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