Lecturer at the University of Auckland
Stefan Korber is a graduate of the PhD programme with the Department of Management and International Business at the Business School.
Programme: Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Management and International Business
Often data gathering for PhD research only involves a handful of interviews, but I worked almost five days a week for six months in an engineering firm. Being so hands-on allowed me to build trust with participants and gave me much more in-depth insights, and my thesis reflects that.
“I’d been living in New Zealand for a couple of years and I always wanted to do a PhD, and the University of Auckland has the best- rated business school in the country. I applied four years ago and got accepted, and I’m still here – NZ is a great place to live, and the university has a very open-minded culture and a diverse set of PhD students, which is a real positive.
“My PhD research was an in-depth study of a large engineering consulting firm that wanted to foster business acumen and management consulting skills amongst its work force. I spent six months embedded in the firm with their teams to study barriers to bringing more commercial-oriented thinking and non-traditional services into a firm that was focused on very traditional engineering. Spending so much time with people gave me nuanced insights into the inherent challenges such attempts face because they often do not align with the way engineers think, what they value and how they do things.
“I was very lucky as my supervisors (Peter Smith and Christine Woods) were really enthusiastic. Peter and I met every two weeks to see go over my progress and writing, and I always got immediate feedback so it was a really enjoyable relationship. I was pushed to think about my research more broadly, and my supervisors fostered that quite strategically.
“Myself and other PhD students would also regularly organise social activities. Often, some staff members would join us, which is quite an unusual and positive thing. A lot of ideas that were later developed and integrated into my thesis initially came up at these informal gatherings."