Why did you decide to study the Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School?
I decided to study at the Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School because of its high academic standing and the fit between my research interest and those of some of the faculty. I recognised the importance of working in a dynamic and challenging environment in order to develop a strong PhD project.
Describe what your research was about?
My research dealt (and still deals) with the interaction between university and industry, in terms of research collaboration and technology transfer. My thesis was focused on the micro-foundations of university-industry links, and especially on elements related to the personal characteristics of academic researchers, and to the effect of their social context on their behaviors. From a theoretical perspective, I have used the university-industry context to highlight the role of individual motivations and behaviors in the construction of collective phenomena, emphasising at the same time the importance of the mechanism by which social pressure influence individual perceptions and actions.
What makes the Imperial College research environment distinctive?
Imperial College presents an extremely interesting mix of disciplines that adds to its distinctiveness. The research environment at the Business School is very dynamic and it provides great opportunities for personal development. The seminar series are excellent and the Business School is able to attract prestigious speakers from all over the world to present and discuss their research.
How would you describe the community at Imperial?
The community of researchers at Imperial is very varied and comes from very different research backgrounds, which makes professional and personal interaction very interesting and rewarding. Researchers are very ambitious and dedicated to their work, and this translates in great opportunities for intellectual exchange.
What’s it like to live and study in London?
London is a great place to live in, thanks to its strong international outlook. I think there are very few things you won’t be able to find in London. From a student perspective, the presence of other prestigious universities at your doorstep is absolutely invaluable, as you can interact not only with the research community at Imperial but with the research community in many other universities, and you can also take advantage of a large offering of training programmes to improve your academic skills.
How did you manage balancing your study with your personal life?
Sometimes it seems very difficult to manage the demands of a PhD with a “normal” personal life. It is important to realise that a PhD is no ordinary office job and while it gives you great flexibility, it is also very demanding in terms of time and effort required. For me, having a partner who also has a PhD and therefore went through the same process made the balancing easier as there was full understanding about what a PhD requires. Also, I tried as much as I could to keep some free time and not to work 7 days a week non-stop: in my opinion, it is important to engage from time to time in different kinds of activities to keep the energy and creativity flowing.
How has the Business School helped develop your career?
Working towards my PhD made me realize that my place is in academia. Being able to work side by side with experienced and motivated researchers has helped me to develop my research skills so that I managed to have a job offer for a faculty position before the end of my PhD.
What do you enjoy most about your current job and what are the main challenges that you face?
I greatly enjoy the constant intellectual challenge that an academic job provides. As a professor, I am able to pursue my research independently and to work every day on something that I find interesting and stimulating. I love being part of an international community of scholars and being able to discuss my ideas with researchers from all over the world. The biggest challenge is to juggle the different responsibilities that a faculty position entails – research, teaching and administration – with the time I have available!
What do you miss most from your days at the Business School?
Being a PhD student, while very stressful at times, is also a great life experience. Not many people can enjoy the freedom to spend days reading and thinking: this great space for reflection is probably what I miss most.
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering joining the Business School’s Doctoral programme?
A PhD is a long journey that requires high motivation, so the first thing a prospective student needs to be sure of is his or her willingness to truly be an academic at least for the time spent in the PhD program. It is also very important to be proactive and to take advantage of all the opportunities the Business School offers: attending seminar, talking to colleagues and other researchers, improving your research skills and building a strong international research network. As a student, one may not realize how busy other researchers are: it is therefore crucial to take the initiative in terms of presenting and discussing your work, and not wait for others to come and comment spontaneously on it.
What was the most important learning you took away with you from the Business School?
If I had to pick one thing, I think that one of the most important learning I took away with me is the importance of collaboration in research.