Darcie Dixon

female silhouetteNationality: Canadian and British

Institute and subject studied for Undergraduate degree: 
Honours Bachelors of Arts – Major in International Relations, Double Minor in French and History (Trinity College, University of Toronto)
Masters of Arts in International Relations – Specialising in Global Political Economy (McMaster University)
Masters of Science in Management, Organisation and Governance (London School of Economics and Political Science)

What is your previous work experience and how did this prepare you for the programme? I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work at BEworks – a boutique consulting firm in Toronto, Canada, that specialises in applying behavioural economics to business and policy challenges. This experience ignited my passion for studying behavioural economics and ultimately led me to switch my research towards consumer behaviour. Working at a consultancy helped prepare me for the rigour of the Doctoral program by giving me the skills to organise and structure my work so that my deliverables were consistent and of the highest quality, as well as to manage an immense and daunting workload that comes with being a Doctoral student. More importantly, the experience inspired my research question and functioned to demonstrate the value of my research in real-world contexts.

Greatest academic, professional or personal awards/achievements: I am an international-level figure skater in synchronized skating. I represented Team Canada for seven years; two years at the junior level, winning medals at the Junior World Championships; and representing Canada at the Senior level for five years at international competitions and at the World Championships. I was also on Team Great Britain for two seasons, acting as team captain, winning two national championships and competing at international competitions and the World Championships.
I also founded a team of figure skaters to perform and cheer for the Imperial College London Devils Ice Hockey Team. I am also proud to say I represented ICL as part of the Imperial College Titans (Cheerleading).

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Programme

Why did you decide to study the Doctoral programme at Imperial College Business School and what makes this programme unique?
I chose Imperial because of it’s proximity to innovation – both in other areas of Imperial College, as well as the amazing inventions and interesting new companies establishing themselves in and around London. As a student in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Group, I felt I could take advantage of proximity to innovation to study its commercialisation.

What aspect/s of the Doctoral programme have been the most rewarding?
Working with my supervisor has been the most rewarding and valuable part of this program. I learn so much from every meeting and interaction. I am constantly in awe of this and am extremely grateful to my supervisor for the quality of supervision I am fortunate enough to receive.

What aspect/s of the Doctoral programme have been the most challenging?
I believe the hardest part of pursuing a PhD is the psychological component. It’s a very long process and it becomes very easy to feel lonely or stressed.

Have you had any unexpected changes to the development of your research? How has this affected your experience?
It is a fairly common experience among Doctoral students to have a considerable pivot (to borrow a term from entrepreneurs) in research direction. My change in topic was immense as I moved from innovation to consumer behaviour. This redirection had considerable benefits and I’m excited that I was able to gain such deep knowledge in both disciplines. It is very important to find a topic that you really connect with, as you can always fall back on your analytical skill and academic training to tackle your research question.

What is your key takeaway from the programme so far?
Resilience is key: essentially you are trying to think about something in a way that no one else has done before. This is not easy, and there will be many obstacles to overcome. The key is to not be discouraged when an idea or an experiment doesn’t work out and ultimately keep working until you find a solution.

People

Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
My favourite seminar was Darren Dahl. I found him incredibly generous with his advice and totally inspiring. I also really have enjoyed the Graduate Professional Development courses – they are both helpful and interesting.

How would you sum up the Business School faculty?
The faculty at the Business School is extremely intelligent. They are genuinely experts in their field. It’s really inspiring to be in the presence of such accomplished academics.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
Imperial is gaining momentum for its reputation, being recognised as a top 10 school in the entire world. Being a student here has definite clout and helps us to signal our abilities and quality to prospective employers. Leveraging Imperial’s exceptional reputation and ranking is an opportunity we would not have in many other institutions.

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities? Please share any positive experiences you have had.
There are unlimited opportunities available to students of London universities. We have access to public lectures and seminars at the many prestigious universities found nearby. Being a business school, our proximity to world-leading organisations means we are often able to interact with experts in the private sector and learn from their insight. Being in central London allows for us to have interesting guests visit our school. It’s a very exciting place to be a student.

Location

What can a weekend in London look like for a PhD student?
I rarely take “weekends”; I try to work every day of the week. This is just the way I choose to research and it works for me. I try to work when I am the most efficient and engaged. As an exception, some weekends I will be away competing for figure skating, getting to travel to interesting and exciting places across the UK, Europe, and North America.

In your opinion, tell us about the most exciting, undiscovered place in London.
The most exciting place in London is the (seasonal) Somerset House Ice Rink – it is absolutely gorgeous. I was fortunate enough to work there as an ice marshal and coach for a number of seasons.
Take a trip into central on Bus 9; it’s like being on a tour bus. The stops that are announced are quintessential tourist sites such as Knightsbridge, Green Park and Trafalgar Square. Try getting a much-coveted seat at the front on the upper-level and have your camera ready.
I would also recommend that students try to study for an hour or two in Hyde park. It is minutes away from the Business School and is a lovely and peaceful setting for studying.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?
My biggest advice for anyone moving to London is to establish routines early that get you involved and interacting with groups of people (e.g. join a club or society, a gym or a special interest group). It is very important to make friends and be involved in a community here in London because as a Doctoral student it is very easy to become isolated and focus on your work. London is such a diverse place and there is definitely something here for everyone. Getting out there early into your time in London can really help make that happen!