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Topic Title: PhD/DBA?
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Created On: 16 July 2012 03:39 PM
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 16 July 2012 03:39 PM
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scottseedell

Posts: 58
Joined: 05 June 2009

Hi Folks,

I'm currently doing an MSc (Engineering Management - Distance learning) and all going well, should finish fairly shortly. I'm currently employed as a project engineer for a large M+E firm and generally enjoy the role although I would like to progress up the ladder a bit more possibly to a senior personnel manager or similar position. Being naturally ambitious and keen to learn, I have been pondering undertaking a management/leadership PhD or DBA. My local university offer a PhD on a part time basis which can take up to 6 years to complete with fairly minimal attendance at uni (<10 hours per week). I've also been looking at possible online/distance DBAs which seem relevant to my aims also. Upon completion of my MSc I would meet the entry criteria easily enough I believe.

Can anyone give any advice on whether or not I would need a PhD/DBA in order to further my management ambitions or whether I should concentrate on completing my MSc and gain some valuable industry experience before I consider any career changes? I'd hate to spend up to 6 years completing a PhD only to discover than it hasnt actually moved me up the career ladder more than just my MSc!

Much appreciated.

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 25 July 2012 03:57 PM
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DonaldFisher

Posts: 44
Joined: 21 December 2010

Hi Scott,

I'm in a very similar situation to yourself - more than halfway through an MSc as we speak and am now considering further study (aftre completion) to push me up the career ladder.

My first thoughts are to study an MBA at a reputable Business School - I would have thought this were the best way (combined with work experience) to accelerate your career progression.

Manchester has a highly ranked business school and offers a part-time MBA that has an engineering slant. It's a 3 year course with roundabout a week on campus every 6 months. The downside is that it costs 24k. Check out - http://www.mbs.ac.uk/mba/global-mba/engineering.aspx

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JBB IEng MIET
 26 July 2012 05:05 PM
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scottseedell

Posts: 58
Joined: 05 June 2009

Hi DonaldFisher,

An MBA seems an awful lot of time an expense in my opinion and I'm not sure would bump you further up the line than the MSc you already have (or will have). I've given it some thought and researched it a little recently and a PhD or DBA can be studied part time from about £2k per year over 4-5 years, with the successful completion of a management-orientated MSc meeting the minimum educational requirements. Of course it will depend on the content of your thesis outline and whether there are any available supervisors in that area but this would propel you much further than a MBA would and in all liklihood, would probably be no more taxing than the MBA.

In fact, dialogue with my local university has revealed that it may be possible for me to avoid doing many of the taught elements of the PhD if they had already been covered by my MSc or BSc. In this sense, attendance at university could be virtually as a distance learner that communicated with their supervisor via email and skype. Essentially the student could maintain a full time job and study approximately 15hrs per week in the evenings/weekend. A distance learning DBA can be as low as £3k per year, over 4-5 years and would also greatly surpass the MBA that would cost you much more and progress your career much less. The bottom line with either the DBA or the PhD though is the quality of the research proposal; without a good proposal no university will be willing to take anyone on.

Hope this helps.

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 27 July 2012 11:07 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
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Definitely an MBA. It is the only recognised management qualification in my experience. It is certainly not necessary, I don't know what the percentage is at the moment but many, perhaps the majority, of managers have no management qualification. But if employers are looking for a qualification it will be an MBA - in my experience they consider a Doctorate an academic qualification, an MBA a 'real world' and applicable qualification. (Of course, different industries may work differently here.)

In any case, much better is to get some serious commercial and project management experience, this will actually get you into a management position. Then it may well be looking at doing an MBA part time.

To put this into perspective, I have about 25 years of management experience, the director I report to has about 20 (he's more ambitious than me ). He is currently doing an OU MBA, I have just sent to the printers today (yeah!!) my MA dissertation. We didn't need any qualifications to get our jobs, we're getting them now to brush up our skills - and, of course, the company is paying for them.

Are you an affiliate member of the CMI? If not, you really ought to be - they are likely to give you the best guidance here. And their magazines are really good! Interestingly, having just looked at their website, for Chartered Manager you only need a Bachelor's level (management) degree - I think that says it all. (I have no affiliation with CMI other than being a member.)

Hope this helps, I'm happy to PM to help if I can (although better post here to let me know I've been PM'd as I don't check them very often).

P.S. Just noticed that you are interested in possibly moving into personnel management, hopefully you're looking at the CIPD website too?

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Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert

Edited: 27 July 2012 at 11:14 PM by amillar
 30 July 2012 04:43 PM
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DonaldFisher

Posts: 44
Joined: 21 December 2010

Andy,

"Definitely an MBA. It is the only recognised management qualification in my experience. It is certainly not necessary, I don't know what the percentage is at the moment but many, perhaps the majority, of managers have no management qualification. But if employers are looking for a qualification it will be an MBA - in my experience they consider a Doctorate an academic qualification, an MBA a 'real world' and applicable qualification."

Couldn't agree more with the above. I've personally never seen a job spec with a requirement for a PhD/DBA and, having worked for multi-national companies, have never came across any one who had went down this route to further their career in management. That's not to say it isn't the case - it just doesn't seem like the normal route to senior management level.

My thoughts are that the Business School you attend is extremely important - making sure that courses are accredited and are held in high regard in industry.

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JBB IEng MIET
 30 July 2012 06:41 PM
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scottseedell

Posts: 58
Joined: 05 June 2009

Awesome comments, thanks guys.

What you're saying does make perfect sense but on the flip-side of that; there are plenty of 'doctors' in management or leadership that hold senior positions at companies and I'm sure they'll feel that their doctorate has propelled them further than an MBA ever could. In fact, my local university lists the academics (lecturer, senior lecturers and professors) available for research opportunities and most of them mix part-time lecturing/supervisor roles at university with real positions in industry, some of it internationally. In this sense, I cannot see how achieving the highest level of academia would do any harm in my quest for achieving a high-level management or leadership position, especially if mixed with practical experience from the lower levels of management upwards.

Of course there is still every chance that my life/career ambitions evolve with time (they have done every few years since achieving various other targets) and I may actually fancy something academia-orientated. In this case it would be a waste of time in doing any other masters degrees (MBA included) and I would probably need a doctorate as a minimum. It's purely down to the individual but I cannot see myself gaining any motivation for attaining an MBA after achieving an MSc and would not really call it 'progress' unless I was continuing in intensity so I think if I choose not to work towards a doctorate then I will be proud of my accomplishments and call it the end of my journey through academia. Ultimately it's the individual's choice but personally I just don't see the advantage in another course at the same level of intensity and academic merit as the one I will (fingers crossed!!) complete soon enough.

It would be interesting to hear from any Phd/DBA graduates who feel as though they would have been better placed to conduct an MBA instead?

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 30 July 2012 07:01 PM
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leewood

Posts: 6
Joined: 25 July 2008

To all,
I am at the point of pursuing a Ph.D (completed Eng Management MSc a few years ago) and can't decide whether I am making the right decision or not, seems I am not alone!
I am in contact with a couple of guys who have completed Ph.D studies, but the time-scale and effort required to achieve are a major challenge if you work full-time. It isn't obvious to see what you will get out of it career-wise unless you are in a more "scientific" type of role where research studies may have give you the advantage with career progression opportunities.
MBA is recognised everywhere in the world, but not all companies actively pursue it for senior positions.... I too would like to get the views of Ph.D qualified individuals before I move forward. Thanks in anticipation of any replies.

Lee Wood MSc IEng MIET
 31 July 2012 09:43 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Hi Scott and Lee,

It really depends what you want to do. If a company has a choice between someone who has spent six years researching for a doctorate and someone who has spent six years climbing the greasy pole of management there is no question which they will go for: the real world manager every time. Now, as Scott suggests, it is possible to get a research position / lecturership at university and move from there into management, but it's one of the harder ways of doing it - possibly the hardest. Companies will certainly employ university staff to bring research expertise to bear on specific 'technical' issues - we do it reguarly. And universties will proudly proclaim that they do this in order to win more work, given that this is where their money comes from. (I'm not complaining since I enjoy being wined and dined by them ) But from this route you are likely to be seen as not commercially aware, not able to see the 'bigger picture' of all the company issues and - the risk for all forms of consultancy - not willing to take responsibility for your actions and see them through to the end. This may or may not be true for any one individual, but it is a widespread concern about academia. Hence back to the original point, companies like people who've 'been there, done that'. There are also concerns about how relevant academic research is to industry, I love the following quote:
Management innovation is happening everywhere and at a breathtaking pace. Everywhere that is, except in academia. (Fendt & Kaminska-Labbe, 2011: 217)


In the end, as I think you've both identified, it's down to what you want to do. If you find the idea of doing a PhD / DBA interesting, and have the time and funds to do it, then fine: although beware that you may need to play 'catch up' to get management skills. If you're aim is to get into management (rather than to do research for it's own sake) then do an MBA.

Final thought: in my experience, from looking at managers I have worked with, the best time to carry out higher level management education is when you have about 10 years management experience, I'd say 5 years is a minimum. Any less than that and you will find it darn near impossible to put the education into context; and, as with any social science, context is what it is all about.

Fendt, J. & Kaminska-Labbe, R., (2011) 'Relevance and Creativity Through Design-Driven Action Research: Introducing Pragmatic Adequacy'. European Management Journal, 29(3), 217-233.

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Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 01 August 2012 08:31 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
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One notable omission from most management courses is information about Asperger syndrome. Even the management psychology components rarely include it despite knowledge relating to Asperger syndrome already having rewritten or added significant material to existing general psychology.
 10 August 2012 11:01 PM
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leewood

Posts: 6
Joined: 25 July 2008

Hi Andy,
Thanks for your reply. Been away so apologies for delay in responding.
I didn't explain very well in my initial comments. I am fortunate to already have a Senior Engineering Management role following a career in Operations and Engineering Management covering over 20 years. My reason to take on a Ph.D or look at MBA level qualifications is based more around continuing my Academic learning to complement my experience across a number of industries.
Over the last two weeks I have been drawn more to completing a Ph.D from numerous discussions with individuals who have gone on to do well in their careers following completion.
Thanks for the information you provided. I will follow it up.

Kind regards

Lee Wood IEng MIET
 07 October 2012 02:50 PM
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marinapopka

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Joined: 07 October 2012

Thanks for the information!!! Very interesting ...
 09 October 2012 10:48 PM
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leewood

Posts: 6
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Just to let you know where I finally decided to go.... Ph.D now started and have recently read a book called The Puritan Gift.... interesting slant on the virtues of generalist MBA qualification.... and mediocre business performance. Don't shoot the messenger, not my words but a very thought provoking book on the subject.

Lee Wood MSc CEng MIET - Recent change to registration
 11 October 2012 03:58 PM
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scottseedell

Posts: 58
Joined: 05 June 2009

Lee Wood - good luck with your studies mate.

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Scott Seedell - BSc(Hons) IEng MIET
 12 November 2012 12:44 PM
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Witch1

Posts: 64
Joined: 12 July 2010

Lee

Well done with achieving your CEng.

I too have considered the DBA/PhD route and I am already in a senior management position like you. It was an interesting discussion but what is holding me back is the amount of time required over and above my day job.

I did my MSc in IT Management on a 3 year part time basis whilst in employment and found that it was an extreme challenge to balance home life, work life and study. I would be interested to know how you get on as although I found the content of the course quite easy, it was the time needed which almost made me want to give up. Gladly I carried on and achieved a distinction

Good luck on your course and let us know how it goes!

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Mike Green MSc (Distn) CEng FIET
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