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From consultancy to PhD and academia

#1 From consultancy to PhD and academia
21/06/2007 21:44


Hello everyone,

I have been working at Deloitte as a strategy consultant for 2 years.

I want to go, sooner or later, back to university, to do a PhD in business and teach and do research.

I was wondering how easy or difficult it is to get into a good B-School (LBS, Top 10 in the US, Insead, etc) in the US or UK for a PhD.

I how many years would you suggest to do the move?

What kind of things would maximise my chance of getting there?

Thank you very much for your help.

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#2 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
21/06/2007 22:27

Q? to anon (#1)

Hi, anon

I know it's not really related but i couldn't help but ask, how have you found your time at deloitte? Did you start as a grad? What was the culture like specifically in strat? hours etc? were you working in the M&A strat side? I am sorry for the barage of questions, I will be starting this August in strat and was hoping for some inside info so feel free to impart any advice that you wish someone had told you when you were about to start!


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#3 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
21/06/2007 22:59

anon to anon (#1)

To get on the PhD track, the procedure is much the same as if you were applying direct from your first degree (i.e. the process and criteria are the same). As such, the more time you spend out of academia, the more you can weaken your chances. For right or wrong, work experience doesn't count for much, even in business academia so you are at a good point now to make the switch. [Hopefully] you have developed a decent awareness of how business works without having yet forgotten how higher education works.

You'll want to look at which b-schools are good at research and open to academicians - these are not always the same as the top MBA schools. You'll generally have more and better opportunities if you take an academic MSc/MA, MRes or MPhil rather than an MBA en-route to your PhD.

There was a full-page article in the FT last week, if you have chance to scan the Business Life/Business Education/Workplace sections. I don't recall the subject's name but he was being interviewed about his experience of switching from a career in banking to academia, including doing his PhD. The summary seemed to be not to leave it too late.

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#4 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
23/06/2007 11:16

anon to anon (#3)

anon- thank you for your answer. I feel you were thinking more about UK B-Schools rather than US or europeann ones. Many B-Schools do not request a Masters degree in order to go to the PhD (its sort of embedded within the first 2 years of the PhD adding the research twists that find necessary). Also, doing some research about the people who are now doing the PhDs in these unis I see two main groups: those who have always been in academia and those who were working in business for maybe 4-6 years. So I am puzzled by you saying that 2 years is enough. Maybe that latter group has something in particular? What do you think?

Q- I am happy that you are joining Deloitte after summer. There will be very long days and days when you leave work pretty soon. There are plenty of peak periods. I believe one of the most important things, especially as a graduate, is to land within a group of more experienced people with whom you are comfortable. You are going to spend a lot of time with them, so you'd better enjoy their company. You are going to learn a lot - as much as you feel you want to take, both from projects and from the people staffed in those projects. If you dont hesitate in being helpful and always enthusiastic, I think you will take most of the juice from the work.

Important advice I learnt later: Enjoy your holidays. Really. Throughout the year you will work very hard. That work accumulates. Right now many people here are quite exhausted. More than they want to admit (including me). We need more than a weekend to shake off that exhaustion. Therefore, take advantage of your holidays now and come fresh and happy after summer!

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#5 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
23/06/2007 12:19

DCF to anon (#4)

Top schools for research IIRC are LBS, Lancaster (believe it or not) and Warwick. Imperial and Manchester also good. All get very high or top ratings in the RAE so if academia is your interest then you need not restrict yourself to the most 'prestigious' schools for graduate employment - you have a few more options.

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#6 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
23/06/2007 12:55

anon to DCF (#5)

DCF - Thank you for your help.

Could you extend the list for European Business Schools, please?

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#7 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
23/06/2007 12:56

another anon to anon (#6)

what does iirc stand for?

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#8 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
23/06/2007 20:56

anon2 to anon (#4)

Anon - Yes, you're right. I'm mainly thinking of the UK rather than US market. In practical terms, the MSc/MPhil/etc. followed by the PhD route in the UK isn't much different from the straight into PhD route in the US. They both take about the same time. In the UK you would also often write your application to the Masters with an explicit aim to continue into a PhD - it just gives you an intermediate qualification should you decide academia isn't for you and allows you to switch institutions part-way on your way to the PhD. Some universities prefer this approach if you haven't got an academic background in your PhD discipline or didn't do a significant research element in your first degree as it allows them to evaluate your suitability for the PhD.

I second DCF's list of schools. Good mainland European schools for research are Bocconi, RSM Erasmus, and Insead

Another Anon - IIRC = "if I recall correctly", iirc :-)

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#9 RE: From consultancy to PhD and academia
24/06/2007 12:37

DCF to anon2 (#8)

anon2 is correct there I think. You could come up with a longer list with the aid of the FT listing of business schools - they do one for all programs rather than just the MBA and the ranking looks a little different. I would apply the usual caveats to any attempt at academic ranking but it's still a reasonably useful list I would think.

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