Ruxandra Luca

Programme: Doctoral 2017

Nationality: Canadian

Postgraduate degree: MA in Psychology from University of Toronto

Job after studying at Imperial College Business School: Lecturer in Marketing, University of Sussex


Studying at Imperial

Why did you choose to study your PhD at Imperial College Business School?

I have a background in psychology and animal research and I wanted to complete a Management PhD to help me understand human behaviour and consumption. One of the main reasons why I chose Imperial College Business School was because of my supervisors and also Imperial’s reputation in world-leading research. As well as its resources for students and its infrastructure.

What was the most important thing/learning point you took with you from the Business School?

During my time in the Business School, I have learned how to apply my critical thinking skills in a practical way.

What was the most surprising thing about the programme?

The most surprising thing about the programme were the friendships that I forged in my PhD cohort. Most of the students who entered around the same time, across the various programmes, developed close and lasting friendships. The Business School provided us with the meeting places and events necessary to shape these connections.

How do you view your experience of studying at Imperial since you left?

I feel it has been a privilege to have been part of Imperial. The research culture is evident and so is the pursuit of excellence; this has provided me with a positive environment to grow as an academic.

How did you find living in London?

As a PhD student, living in London was exciting. From one end to another, from day to night, there is always something to enjoy in this vibrant and unique city.

How has the programme changed you?

Given that this programme lasts on average 3 to 5 years in total, it shapes and changes people. I feel that I have matured as an academic and I have been given the time and space to reflect and decide what I want to do with my career.

Can you recall a favourite memory from your time on the programme?

I have many positive memories from my time at Imperial and it’s hard to pinpoint any one specific point. My PhD colleagues have become my close friends and although we have had our expected challenges in the programme, the PhD office was always filled with lively debates and laughter as well.

Career & professional development

How has your programme contributed to your career success?

Imperial has helped me develop as an academic and as an independent researcher. I enrolled in courses that helped build my knowledge and skills, and I had the option to enrol in additional courses at other universities as well. I have had access to useful resources and infrastructure – such as having a PhD office which I shared with colleagues in my cohort, access to the well-resourced Imperial library, and opportunities to attend research seminars by guest speakers. The conferences I attended were funded and there were incentives in place for my PhD colleagues and I to attend social events and gatherings. My programme has also given me the opportunity to teach various types of high quality students, ranging from master to MBA students online. This has strengthened my teaching portfolio once I started applying for jobs.

What did you take away from your learning experience that has been most applicable to your current role?

During my PhD programme I was taught to be independent and to have the skills to be proactive in seeking out the information I needed.  This has helped tremendously in my current academic role as Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Marketing. I have also built the confidence to teach various types of students because I had the opportunity to do so during my programme.

How do you plan to use the skills and knowledge you gained during the programme within your career going forward?

An academic career requires not only critical skills and independence, but also perseverance. Once a student has gone through a PhD journey, they are equipped to handle various types of situations. I plan to use these skills gained during my doctoral programme at Imperial to further develop my independent research projects, to collaborate with international researchers, and to mentor and supervise my own future PhD students.

What is your current role like?

My role as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Marketing is three-fold, 1) to conduct independent research, and 2) to teach, and 3) to supervise research students. As part of my research, I have expanded on my PhD projects and started new projects as well. My PhD projects involved understanding the role of visual attention online (combining cognitive psychology and marketing). I’m also currently working on understanding the role of neuroscience in the workplace and in the marketplace. I conduct my research in my university’s Behavioural Laboratory, for which I am one of two lab directors, and I also conduct some research online. Furthermore, my current role involves teaching one to two courses. I have developed two courses that fit within my research interests: Consumer Psychology and Neuromarketing (at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels). Finally, I have been supervising undergraduate and master students on research projects.

What do you enjoy most about your current work and what are the main challenges that you face?

In my current work, I enjoy the academic freedom to pursue research projects that interest me and that I am passionate about. I have the flexibility to direct my research and to choose what I teach. Some of the main challenges that I face are juggling research, teaching and supervision. With flexibility comes the challenge of being able to fulfil and morph into these different tasks – however, that’s also part of the fun.

What is your proudest achievement in the job so far?

My proudest achievement in the job so far has been getting my job in the first place whilst I was still completing my PhD. Juggling my thesis and preparing for my viva while I tried to write papers, teach, and supervise has been my proudest achievement. If I must pinpoint a specific achievement it would be supervising students – seeing them complete their thesis from the beginning until the end makes me feel that I can me a useful mentor and give back to the academic community.

The alumni network

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?

Keeping in touch with others in the alumni network is important to me because it allows me to feel connected to a community that has played an important role in shaping my career. Remaining connected means having access to interesting talks, exciting events, and insightful people.

What value do you get out of your connections with the Business School and your fellow alumni?

The Business School produces high calibre alumni and employs world-leading researchers. Being in touch with fellow alumni and connections within the Business Schools enables one to discuss research projects, think of new ideas, forge new collaborations, and remain part of relevant discussions and events.

Advice for future students

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same Business School programme as you?

I would advise a prospective student to keep in touch with their supervisors on a weekly basis because they are important in shaping and helping one progress. A PhD programme can feel like a lonely journey, but it does not need to be. Communication is important in progressing throughout the PhD programme since it helps a student identify not only what needs improvement, but also what is going well, because positive feedback is as important as critical feedback.

Programme: Doctoral 2017

Nationality: Canadian

Postgraduate degree: MA in Psychology from University of Toronto

Job after studying at Imperial College Business School: Lecturer in Marketing, University of Sussex