Doctoral student Lucy Gill-Simmen and her supervisor, Dr. Andreas Eisingerich, provide a more in-depth perspective on the her research project.
Lucy Gill-Simmen – Organisation & Management Group
What is your research about?
My research examines the nature of employee-brand relationship and considers how this relationship is similar and dissimilar to consumer-brand relationships. Furthermore I examine how the employee-brand relationship affects employee brand-specific behaviours.
How has it evolved from your initial proposal?
In the first instance I set out to examine employee-brand relationships so it has evolved along its traditional trajectory, no major changes. It has certainly evolved in depth but not in direction!
What have been the main challenges since coming to Imperial?
For me the biggest challenge was making the switch from a practitioner-based approach to virtually everything to an academic approach. This meant changing the way I looked at the research problem. This took some time but with a constant reminder from my supervisor I was soon able to switch my way of thinking although given the nature of my research remaining close to the mind of a practitioner remained important.
What has been the most interesting part of your research so far?
For me conducting in-depth interviews with employees in the USA, Mainland Europe and the UK was most interesting. It was a fascinating process which I thoroughly enjoyed and using the constant comparative method to interviewing meant each interview informed the next one which meant I was constantly on my toes and this pushed my thought processes to another level which was great.
Did any of the results/findings surprise you?
I used grounded theory so I didn’t know what to expect with the employee-brand relationship, however some of the findings demonstrated some remarkable similarities between the employee and the consumer in the brand relationship which surprised me. The stark contrasts surprised me less!
How has studying at ICBS been important to your research?
Studying here has been immensely important. I did my MBA here so to be able to continue and to contribute to such a prestigious and world-renowned institution so well recognised for its cutting edge research and academic excellence has obviously meant the world to me.
What role has your supervisor played?
My supervisor has exceeded all expectations of a supervisor on every level imaginable. Not only an outstanding academic with a stellar publication record he has been supportive, encouraging and understanding at all times. At the same time, he has taught me that only the best is good enough and that’s fine with me!
How has your background prepared you for the Doctoral programme?
The fact that I have worked in a number of companies has meant I understand what it like to work for different types of brands, this provided a useful canvas when developing and situating my research.
Have you studied any of the MSc modules in the BS as part of the Doctoral programme?
No, given I have an MBA this wasn’t necessary but these courses were made available to my colleagues.
Have you done any TA work here, or anything similar?
I have worked as a TA on one of the MBA electives. I also worked for the Study Group recruiting candidates for the ICBS DLMBA program.
Dr. Andreas Eisingerich – Associate Professor of Marketing
Lucy’s work on employee-brand relationships ties in with my ongoing research projects on brand management. Importantly however Lucy at all times was in the driving seat for her research.
My role was that of a mentor and that of a helping hand. Business managers struggle with how to motivate employees, how to build stronger, more meaningful relationships between their employees and the company brand employees are working for. Whenever we talked to managers around the globe they all agreed how incredibly important Lucy’s research is, and yet companies are very protective of their employees and finding a company that was willing to collaborate for this research was challenging.
Through the entire PhD journey Lucy persevered and in the end not only did she conduct a series of in-depth interviews with managers around the world but also secured a unique dataset from a global company. Lucy has presented her work at leading practitioner and academic conferences in the United States and Europe. We are currently working together on publishing her work.