Factors that Led to Pursuing a Doctorate in Business
There are numerous factors that might lead someone to pursue a doctorate in business. In my case, I have worked in the banking field for most of my professional life, and it is where I expect to spend the rest of my career. Of late, banking has been in the news as the financial crisis has centered on the decisions made by individuals at the local level who chose—or did not choose—to make loans to particular types of borrowers. It has become clear over the past several years that the banking industry is a critical part of the world economy and that an advanced understanding of how economics and finance come together within that industry would certainly be beneficial.
Moreover, I am interested in the work of key writers in this field, including Adam Smith, Keynes and Friedman. Conflicting theories about the role of banks and governments and interest rates have more than just an academic interest for me: they affect my life and my clients. These influences—and others—I came across in both my undergraduate and master’s programs, now I want to explore them in more depth.
I am also a believer in lifelong learning, and pursuing a doctorate seems the next logical step in my personal and professional education. In this way, there are personal as well as career-oriented motivators for taking on this program.
Current Level of Preparedness and Current Position in the Field
Traditionally, doctorates were pursued by those with a purely academic background, either continuing on from undergraduate degrees or from a master’s program. More recently, however, individuals are increasingly pursuing the PhD after working in their field for some amount of time (Wellington, et al, 2005). This is the situation in which I find myself. I obtained my Master’s while working in the banking industry so that I have a combination of “real-world” and academic knowledge.
This combination of types of knowledge will be helpful in that I can understand how theoretical constructs have application in the banking industry, and will also inform the research project that I decide to pursue. This latter is the case in that I am likely to focus on a topic that has real-world practicality rather than just research objectives.
Being a working professional means that I am able to bring my own relevant experience into the doctoral program. However, it also limits the amount of time that I can devote to my studies, and may take away from some of the purely academic research that those who are not working in industry might bring to the process. While I believe that real-world application is valuable to the doctoral experience, it can also limit one’s vision to conducting research that has far-reaching and long-term relevance.
The doctoral program offers the opportunity to refine one’s ability to identify alternatives to business problems, research those alternatives and arrive at the best solution for particular situations. This is a highly desired outcome that the rigors of the program should help bring about. At the same time, the doctoral program will also provide additional research tools—both qualitative and quantitative—that can be applied to one’s professional environment.
Because the doctoral program is not done in isolation but is instead completed with a cohort of peers, one develops leadership skills as well as the ability to work within the parameters of a group. Ideally, there is also networking that goes on within the cohort so that one builds relationships that will extend beyond the completion of the program and which will enhance one’s personal and professional lives even after the program goal—the doctorate—is achieved.
Finally, I hope to enhance my own understanding of the field so that I am recognized as an expert and will be able to contribute to the knowledge of my field and industry. This will benefit whichever institutions I may work with in the future, as well as my clients. There is also the personal satisfaction that will come with achieving this milestone and which reinforces my love of learning and my commitment to lifelong learning.
Life Beyond the Program
At this point in the process, it is difficult to see beyond the next several years and the doctoral program itself, but the degree is but one more stage in the candidates’ personal and professional lives. After the program ends, the PhD will be a part of lives that will shape and affect our personal and professional growth.
Professionally, I expect that I will be able to take on special projects with my financial institution that will enhance the bank’s ability to be successful. This may come about by offering new products to customers, by changing the current marketing strategy in terms of which customers we target, or by creating new strategies for handling our assets.
Long-term, I hope to be able to teach at the college level and to continue to conduct research and publish papers that will continue to add to the knowledge in the field. I expect that this will come about in part through a continued close relationship with University of Phoenix even after my studies are complete, and also through increased participation in professional and academic communities and associations. I also expect to have new long-term colleagues gained through the process of obtaining the doctorate, particularly those in my cohort that will be going through the same process.