Hear from our students: PhD testimonials

Claudia Henninger, PhD (Germany)


Hector MadridHector Madrid, PhD (Chile, South America)

I recently completed my PhD at Sheffield University Management School.

Sheffield is a fantastic place to study, work and live. It is very student friendly city, and my positivity about it extends beyond the University – the city offers a wonderful all-round quality of life. In my time here, I have connected with people in education and outside – Sheffield is magic. It has good people, a beautiful environment and, to top it all, an excellent University.

Being a PhD student at Sheffield University Management School is very challenging. You are learning a lot, and you must make the most of working with important people in your field such as world leaders in your field. The Management School has world-leading academics on my subject, such as Professor Peter Warr in the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP).

The IWP is a great group of people within the Management School. They have a strong global reputation and a strong sense of community – it is a world-class institute.

When you are a PhD student at Sheffield, you get a great deal of support. It’s important that you have good relationships with your supervisors – I did, and got an amazing level of advice and support. As I mentioned, they are world leaders in their field, but cared about my work and my personal life. The Management School offers a comprehensive, friendly and authentically caring environment – representatives were always interested about how I was settling into Sheffield as an international student, which was comforting.

The University has fantastic resources, offering access to everything you need to do your PhD such as data sets, journals and 24/7 library facilities!

The community between PhD students at the Management School’s Doctoral Centre was very important to me. It fosters a vibrant cluster of people all studying different things, though with a strong sense of collaboration and support – we were able to share expertise and advice within this community, and I appreciated the help from other students going through similar things to me.

I always felt very welcome in the Management School and the city. It has given me access to a new culture and a new life – it is very multicultural, yet totally integrated. The School also has very good industrial connections and international links, so I was able to understand a different way of thinking and understanding.

When I initially thought of studying my PhD in the UK, my thoughts turned to London. However, I knew as soon as I arrived that I’d made the right decision coming to Sheffield – it’s not just the University’s reputation, it’s a complete experience. The quality of life and education is fantastic


Esan HalawaniEsam Adel Halawani, PhD Strategic Management (Saudi Arabia)

 Just before starting my PhD degree (March 2010), I acquired my MBA degree from Sheffield University Management School. Before that, I was a manager specialising in logistics and supply chain operations. I had a long track record in the optimisation of warehousing and distribution operations in Saudi Arabia. My experience in such field spanned from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceuticals, medical goods and surgical equipment.

There were many elements that persuaded me to consider a PhD at Sheffield. Firstly, is the quality of teaching. During my MBA degree I found the area of strategic management very interesting and due to the MBA’s fast pace, I felt that my knowledge in this specific area remained superficial. After discussing the possibility of perusing a PhD degree with the lecturer who was teaching strategic management at that time, I realised that such an opportunity was possible. The lecturer who I consulted later became my PhD supervisor. The second element was the rising reputation of Sheffield University Management School, especially after acquiring Triple Crown accreditation. It was important to me that if I ever to considered obtaining a PhD, it has to be from a school of such academic stature. The third reason was related to the city itself – the living standards and expenses were manageable in comparison to other cities in the UK. This was extremely important because I am a parent and a conscious family man.

I had many years of industrial experience under my belt and I was contemplating changing my career and become a researcher. This reasoning crystallised further after I obtained my MBA degree when I realized that I could enhance my contribution to society by becoming a researcher and an educator. Ideally, I will be capitalising on my work experience to identify under researched areas that are valuable to both academics and practitioners. Obtaining a PhD degree will qualify me to be a competent researcher and will complement my practical skills and industrial experience. As a result, I would be much more prepared to achieve my goal of enhancing my contribution to society by bridging the gap between academia and the business world and thus producing much more practical advice in the form of research.

My thesis explores the process by which procedural knowledge in three different streams (logistics, sales and management accounting) is transferred in joint ventures, from multinational corporations (MNCs) to local partners (distributors) in Saudi Arabia. This research is based on the notion that understanding this process facilitates the understanding of the impact of transferred procedural knowledge on Saudi distributors’ competitiveness. This thesis provides a contribution to knowledge in bridging conceptual gaps in the literature of IJVs, KM and OL. Practically, it provides valuable advice for Saudi distributors currently facing changes in the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) regulations in the Saudi market which gives MNCs the option to operate individually.

The school had supported me in three areas: firstly, the research office which was continuously providing advice, help, clarification and guidance throughout the entire journey. Secondly, is the Management School’s policy to fund my commuting expenses when my supervisor relocated to Scotland. This had demonstrated to me that Sheffield University Management School is doing its best not to disrupt the progress of PhD students in such cases. Thirdly, is when the school offered me a dedicated and well equipped work station in the Doctoral Research Centre. This was very important to me and was part of my ability to focus and progress in my studies. What I am also sure of is that a dedicated work station is a luxury which many high ranking universities do not offer its PhD students.

As I explained earlier, my initial purpose behind perusing a PhD degree, especially in business administration, is to enhance my potential capabilities to contribute to society. That is mainly by practically deploying my research capabilities to bridge the gap between academia and the industrial world. By doing so, I could advance knowledge that can be appreciated by both academics and practitioners. Therefore, it is only logical to target a role that I would enable me to satisfy and have access to both institutions. As I approached the final stages in my PhD degree, I started exploring job opportunities in leading universities both in the UK and in the Middle East. Eventually, I was successfully offered several positions, among which is: the Director of Business Development and an Assistant Professor in Strategic Management. The university which offered me such dual position is Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) and is located in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

The role of Sheffield University Management School will be instrumental in developing my career both as a Director of Business Development and as a researcher in the area of strategic management. There are two main aspects with which the Management School’s support will improve my career prospects. Firstly, it is the area of business development where opportunities for collaboration between PMU and my counterparts in the Management School could be endless. Secondly, it is the potential to produce research in the area of strategic management which is my field of research. Opportunities for collaborative research between the faculties of strategic management in Sheffield University Management School and PMU will improve my career prospects as a researcher. In essence, being a member of Sheffield University Management School’s PhD alumni has enabled me to play an important role in advancing its international presence and develop my career around enabling synergetic partnerships between its Management School and PMU’s or any other reputable universities in the region.