Dr Alastair Watson is Assistant Professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and currently teaches Business Communications, Introduction to Management and Strategic Management at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He has a keen interest in Management, Marketing and Organisational Behaviour. Prior to joining UOWD Alastair was Assistant Professor in Management at Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus, and Teaching Assistant during the completion of his PhD at their Edinburgh Campus. He also spent a number of years as an active operating manager within branded restaurants as well as hotels in the UK. Whilst completing his doctorate, he moved into training, quality and regional recruitment with a large branded restaurant operator in the UK. Dr Watson’s research interests are Staff Commitment & Motivation, Institutions, and Customer Service and Loyalty.

If you recall my last post, I had just bumped into someone that I knew from years ago.  He was completing his PhD and I was on a Masters course back in the UK at the time.  Before I went home from another busy shift at work, I sat down to catch up on the past 8 years!  His question was “So, when are you going to do a PhD?”, to which I replied “I’ve actually been thinking about that for the past six weeks, but how on earth do I manage it?”.

My initial concerns were financial and time.  With mortgage and car payments to meet every month, I had to continue to work full-time.  And with the horrible hours I was doing, there was no way of me seeing a way to complete a PhD, part-time, in six years!  At that time, however, the options were laid out to me.  If my work would let me stay on in a part-time capacity, and I made a successful proposal, there was a slight possibility of me obtaining a Scholarship at Heriot-Watt University.  And…that’s what happened.  Well, almost…because of the contracted hours within our Company, I worked what most normal people would consider full-time, and often added in 8 hours travel, per day, depending on where in the country I was working (I had eventually moved into a really good fun, and interesting Recruitment position within the brand I worked for)!

READ  Top 10 Hints For Understanding Your Ontology, Epistemology and Methodology

I had a nerve-wracking few weeks.  Writing an academic proposal, on something that was important to me (people management in hospitality), how to word things appropriately after 8 years of studying, and trying to keep everything together whilst still managing, at that point, a full-time job.  The purpose of the PhD was simple – to change my future, and career route.  The topic was relatively easy to come up with – I thought about what irritated me in my job, and then decided to evaluate why these things happen, and would it be possible to contribute something to management practice at the end of it all?  Surely!

The proposal was submitted.  I attended the PhD interview.  I got accepted, and offered scholarship.  Now, the important thing to remember is that you need to check if your Institution would permit external work.  I had to retain contacts in the hope of getting access to potential subjects for data collection.  In the end, the company wouldn’t permit me…but it was fun when it lasted (most of the time).  I’ll talk a bit more about how I managed my time, and study/work/teaching/marking schedule in one of my future posts.  Can I add in though at this point, those who say that you can’t complete a PhD in less than 3 years need to rethink their planning?  I was working and travelling each week, teaching, marking, and also taking on additional marking for extra cash.  With good scheduling, and putting in effort, I managed to complete within 33 months, and pretty much had my Viva three years after the original start date (give or take a few days – I was on holiday the first couple of weeks after the PhD induction in 2012).


Picture by smlp.co.uk under CC license.