“Right after having completed my PhD on competitive advantages for small firms, I took over my parents’ family business. It was a small optician’s chain with 9 shops in Germany, that’s where I come from.
It was quite a change from the neat and structured academic life, to business which can be quite chaotic and hectic. But my degree and PhD sure helped me. At my undergraduate degree I learned the basics that you need for running a business, like for example marketing and accounting. This knowledge is essential. The learning’s of my PhD are quite different. It’s less about learning things, it’s about learning how to solve problems. You learn to challenge your assumptions, you learn to consider other methodologies, and finally you learn how to communicate your ideas and thoughts.
Obviously it works. I expanded the business from 9 to 11 shops, and I’m already searching for an opportunity to open shop #12. In addition we launched an online-shop for specssome weeks ago.
Queen’s definitely helped me to improve my knowledge-base, the methods I apply, and my communication skills. In addition, it supported my personal development. I’ve had a wonderful time in Belfast and I consider those two years as the best time of my life. I’m still in touch with my former supervisor and some fellow PhD students. If I described my memories and feelings with a single word it would be gratitude.
For my business I have achieved the Best-Practice-IT-Award and The Customers’-Champions-Award.
I believe two things are important for doing a PhD-Programme successfully: Firstly, you need to find the right supervisor. Her or his expectations should be similar to yours. Secondly, you should focus on a subject that really interests you. Ideally you find a research question that actually bothers you. It can be an amazing experience to reach the boundaries of existing knowledge and to push them a little bit further.
I would strongly recommend Queen’s University and its PhD programme. I experienced terrific support especially from my supervisor; but also from other academics. The clerical staff were very supportive too. Office space and access to resources, like for example software, academic journals, etc was great. Queen’s is a fantastic place for international students like me. Living at the Elm’s Halls was an amazing experience, sometimes crazy but always fun.”