My fascination with border-crossing business

Peixin Zuo, PhD student - MGT
Peixin Zuo
Sheffield University Management School
PhD researcher
Peixin’s research focuses on solving the issues which UK-based SMEs face when they start to grow their businesses internationally.
Peixin Zuo, PhD student - MGT

Peixin completed her undergraduate studies at Qingdao University, China, before taking her MSc in Management (International Business) at SUMS. Based on her positive experience here and the research strength of the School she decided to stay on to undertake a PhD.

You will enjoy the friendly and kind SUMS community, who also organise plenty of great networking activities.

Peixin Zuo

PhD student

What are you researching?

I am studying social capital and networking and its utilisation for internationalisation of UK high-tech small and medium firms in foreign markets. So basically, my doctoral research is about networking and the associated challenges that UK SME entrepreneurs/managers face when they begin internationalising into foreign markets. The focus of my research is on the process of networking and how social capital (value) is created in a cross-cultural setting. My primary supervisor is Prof Marian V Jones, and my second supervisor is Dr Melanie Hassett.

How did your research interests evolve?

As a student who has been studying international business for eight years, I am fascinated by the business world, where people, communities and countries trade goods, services, and technology across national borders. Cultural differences and ways of doing business vary across different nations, and influence the way people and organisations communicate with people from other countries, how they network, and how they achieve international business objectives through appropriate contacts. Wanting to explore this has informed my current research.

What have you most enjoyed about your studies so far?

The most enjoyable part, while also the most challenging, is the fieldwork. It was great to actually go into the companies to see their daily work, to talk to people and to get to know their business and networking experiences, the problems they had faced and their successes.

What were some of the challenges of PhD research and how did you overcome them?

I have enjoyed the PhD, but it is indeed a tough journey. Collecting data was a difficult stage for me, because I needed to establish connections with local companies and get the chance to talk with their senior managers, which is quite difficult for a student. To do this, I tried various ways to get connections, such as cold-calling, LinkedIn, and attending conferences and events, and I was fortunate enough to have such great supervisors who gave me enormous help in finding participants.

How do you think your experience at SUMS will shape your career? 

The Management School has a really good service to help students to increase employability. I have been offered some teaching activities for undergraduate and postgraduate students, which have been a great experience for my future career. The staff at SUMS are extremely kind and efficient in dealing with any problems. They also organised a lot of workshops and events to give career advice, not just for people who want to stay in academia, but also in other areas. I really value their international and inclusive assistance to students.

What are your career aspirations now?

I was planning to stay in academia to become a researcher, or teach at a university, which I truly believe is great. But after I completed my fieldwork with businesses, I wanted to gain some business experience in industry to understand the realistic and practical successes and problems with what I have learnt during my studies. Following on from that, I would like to go back to academia to conduct more research related to my experience.

What’s it like living in Sheffield as a research student?

Sheffield was the first place I came to when I visited the UK in 2015, and I was surprised that it is such a small town, even though it is the 4th largest city in UK. Now, I am impressed by its peaceful, lovely and friendly people, and the typical English and international environments that are closely intertwined.

What advice would you give to those looking to study for a PhD?

In terms of career development, pursuing a PhD is definitely a great stage for self-development, getting deep understanding of field knowledge and strong educational background to compete in the future.

While the PhD can be long and lonely, it is also an enriching journey. It is extremely hard if you don’t have full commitment and interests in your topic. It is necessary to effectively and productively manage your time, and keep a good life-work balance. Because, unlike undergraduate and postgraduate, your time is quite flexible, so self-control and a good sense of time management are critical for a PhD life.

Doing a PhD you will have the chance to talk and work with a lot of kind people who come from different countries and conduct fascinating research. You will enjoy the friendly and kind SUMS community, who also organise plenty of great networking activities, like hiking. You will never feel alone here!

Find a PhD

Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.