Sandrine Le Thomas joined the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) programme 3 years ago, while working for Abbott Laboratories. Meanwhile she is an independent consultant and has already achieved her certificate. With the physical courses behind her she has now embarked on her two years of research. When we interviewed Sandrine at the start she had some questions in her professional B2B domain that she was keen to resolve. So, has the DBA helped her to figure them out, how are things going and what is her advice for new students?
“In fact, the issues I wanted to figure out took on a new dimension once I joined academia. When you enter the academic world you open your eyes and see new ways of approaching your challenges, new topics and a much broader picture. By taking a step back, the research topic I had actually planned changed significantly. Rather than focusing on brand architecture I have focused on a much wider topic: B2B Customer Experience. B2B is very complex and quite different to B2C, and I am investigating what can be applied from B2C, how to apply it and adding specific knowledge from B2B. My ambitions? To gain a level of experience allowing me to add more value wherever I work, whether that’s as an independent or within a company. Above all, I aim to improve the customer experience in an area that is still relatively undiscovered.”
“The course ran in cycles, with blocks of 6 weeks that were really intense. The periods in-between were much calmer. Now, in the research phase, my academic activities are ongoing but the combination with my profession is fine as, being independent, I can be very efficient without the distraction of company life. That gives me plenty of time for my PhD, but I do miss being part of a community and seeing things longer term. So who knows what I’ll choose in the future!
When I first joined the programme, it was quite a shock – the contrast between the practical and academic world. You don’t know the rules, the school’s expectations, whether it will meet your expectations... Also, the course was new when I began, but Vlerick really listened and made fundamental changes based on the students’ input. Adapting not only to collaborative expectations, but also helping with individual challenges, like meeting deadlines or if you get stuck. The team is so supportive, accessible,… quite amazing in fact.”
“I also admire the efforts invested in the ‘Vlerick community’. Vlerick wants you to be involved and works hard to achieve that with their communication, occasional meetings, events, and so on. I find that really refreshing, because rather than remaining a part-timer, doing a hobby on top of your profession, you have the chance to be part of the community.”
“My advice for new students? Pick a topic you love, because you’ll be focusing on it for a few years!”