Doctoral Day

Image from pixabay
6 November 2018 Doctoral Day

I have decided I need to become an academic so I can eventually be affectionately referred to as an absent-minded professor. On the flight over I left my Dove deodorant on board. In Frankfurt I left my iPhone in a taxi (or it fell to the gutter or something). After my presentation in Cologne I forgot my European power converter plug when I removed my laptop on charge, my Think Learn Act name badge came off as I left the bus back to the city at the end of the conference (not that I realised it at the time) and my Dove soap was left in the bathroom at the hotel. I also run into furniture regularly. Both knees are currently sporting dark bruises.

At the Doctoral Day, held at Coventry University, I met a whole lot of other PhD students working in the enterprise/entrepreneurship arena. There was a poster competition (examples below). I didn’t enter since I haven’t actually started my PhD. My favourite was the one that won (middle one). Click on the images for a closer look.

The presentations were in the main interesting but I generally felt like I had taken on board the advice given already, from doing my MRES, such a great learning experience to prepare for a PhD, as much as I begrudged the extra year to my post-grad research. Paul Jones, Luke Pittaway and Alistair Anderson, though, had bits and pieces that were relevant for the forming of my PhD. The slide below is a good example.

The highlight of the Doctoral Day was actually a discussion at lunch with Luke Pittaway, who I referenced in my MRES thesis. He has research students back in Ohio working in a similar area so when I’m back in Australia we are going to talk further. I was also approached by Andrea Lane from Newcastle University Business School (her poster is on the right). We follow each other on Twitter and she wanted to check in with my research. The quick but intense chat helped me think of new angles for my PhD topic.

In the morning, the trip from Birmingham to Coventry involved a 5 minute walk to the station (where a mass of military personnel, including a brass band, were raising awareness and money for Remembrance Day) a 25 minute express train ride and a 20 minute walk at the other end. The final walk would have been about half the time if I hadn’t become lost and had to cave to turning on my phone data to find my way. 

At the end of the Doctoral Day I was offered a lift back to Birmingham by Dennis, also researching enterprise education (his poster is on the left). I knew it would take longer than the train but I have a humungous broken blister on my right heel, so I accepted. Turned out he had offered four people lifts. Three of us PhD students squashed in the back while Alistair Anderson sat in the front passenger seat. Alistair is professor of entrepreneurship at Aberdeen Business School, editor in chief of the journal, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, and on the editorial board of the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research. We all discussed wide ranging definitions of entrepreneurship and what it means to be entrepreneurial, continued the debate that arose at the Doctoral Day about whether PhD students should try to publish papers during their PhD or wait until after it was completed and much more relevant topics. I liked what Gerard McElwee, another journal editor had to say about it. Hopefully we are doing PhDs because we are interested in our topics and want to publish because we like write and/or inform people. He was encouraging PhD students to do what they love and don't play the publishing game because of other people's expectations. By the end of the 1.5 hour drive (traffic jams) I was a little carsick from being so squashed in but all up it was worth it for the conversation, or as enterprise PhD students would say, the social capital gained from the experience.

The day ended with pre-conference drinks at the hotel, where my Brisbane buddy/mentor and enterprise education guru, Colin, introduced me to a bunch of other university leaders in the entrepreneurship field. After the drinks dried up (apparently we were only meant one drink each but most of us managed to have two), Colin and I went to the bar for another couple of beverages. 

So I went to bed very satisfied with the day and looking forward to more ideas and connections from the main ISBE Conference over the next couple of days.


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