La Trobe Business School

Tag: PhD

LBS PhD Candidate Roshan on the benefits of conducting a PhD Industry internship

LBS Newsroom sat down with Roshan Kumar, an LBS PhD candidate who just successfully completed a PhD Industry internship.

Why did you decide to do a PhD Industry Internship?

I want to pursue an industry role after the completion of my PhD and joined this PhD industry Internship to get relevant experience for future roles as a Data Scientist. I wanted to learn relevant concepts, techniques and work with real-world data and problems. Since then, I have been lucky to learn a lot about data analysis and programming techniques in my internship and current role.

What did you have to do to get a PhD Industry Internship?

The idea of a PhD Industry Internship was suggested by my PhD supervisors. I was straight-away interested, so I contacted the Graduate Research School (GRS). The GRS connected me with APR.Intern (Australian Postgraduate Research Intern, formally AMSIIntern).

I had a very nice meeting with the APR.Intern representative and they kindly listened to my experiences, and my expectations regarding the internship. They proposed an internship at Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS) and guided me through the application procedure. I made a formal application with my updated resume and they arranged an interview with the organisation.

Did you have to do an official job interview?

Yes. A job interview was scheduled with EMS. I was provided general information regarding the interview, like what to expect, how to dress, etc. Both APR.Intern and GRS helped me a lot in getting prepared. They were available to guide and help at every stage of my internship.

Eventually, I appeared for a half an hour interview, which went well and resulted in me being selected for the internship at Environmental Monitoring Solutions, located at Carrum Downs, Melbourne.

What kind of internship did you do?

The primary objective of my project was to develop algorithms for dynamic reconciliation of fuel in underground storage tanks. I was analysing high-resolution data, identifying the trends and patterns and designing business solutions while considering limitations of data and resources in the project. I managed to achieve all the objectives set for the project well within the allocated time. This resulted in the extension of my contract after which I was offered an employment contract with the organisation.

Congratulations! How did the internship enrich your PhD experience?

My research at LBS is mainly quantitative in nature. This internship provided me with a great opportunity to diversify my experiences with quantitative data-driven work. It has also added to my local industry experience which I hope will be beneficial to my future pursuits. It also provided me a chance to work as a part of a collaborative team and helped me improve my communication skills.

What is your next step going to be career-wise?

Once I finish my PhD, I would like to continue working as a Data Scientist. I intend to keep learning and working on projects involving big data and machine learning. I believe that my past internship and my current role is preparing me well for future challenges in my career.


Roshan is a part-time PhD candidate at the La Trobe Business School. His research focuses on knowledge networking in healthcare. Roshan has an undergraduate degree in Engineering, a Masters in Business and loves to create sustainable solutions for responsible businesses. He enjoys working on data science projects, specialising in big data, machine learning and predictive modelling techniques).

Interested in a PhD Industry internship?

A PhD Industry internship is facilitated through APR.Intern and are approximately 4-5 months duration. The internship is paid and focuses on a clearly defined research project within an industry organisation. The organisation can be private sector, government, or not-for-profit. More info about applying for the La Trobe Industry PhD can be found here.

Great PhD success in the La Trobe Business School

Congratulations to Shalinka Jayatilleke, Nick Dejkovski, Tariq Halimi, Teddy Kwakye, Stephen Sim, Joni Vendi, Minh Phong Nguyen and Thi Hoa Nhai Pham on passing their PhD thesis examination and being awarded their PhD’s. Read about their PhD topics below, and check out some of the great graduation pictures.

Dr Shalinka Jayatilleke

Dr Jayatilleke investigated the issue of managing software requirements changes in the Information Technology industry which often result in problems like cost overruns and project delays.  She has developed a method each for; (i) change specification and classification; (ii) change analysis; and (iii) rework assessment, in order to help alleviate the problems.


Dr Teddy Ossei Kwakye

Dr Kwakye examined the effect of business strategy on the cost of external financing. The findings show that innovative-oriented firms have higher cost of equity than their efficiency-oriented counterparts due to their greater non-diversifiable business risk and lower quality of financial reports. The research advances business strategy as a direct antecedent of firms cost of equity capital.


Dr Tariq Halimi

Dr Halimi examined the influence of political relations between countries on the consumer purchase decision. It was found that positive relations between countries can provide a competitive advantage for their international companies when marketing their products. This thesis contributes to theory development in consumer purchase decision-making and develops a conceptual model that has implications for marketers.


Dr Stephen Sim

Dr Sim explored the ethical HRM of workers with a range of mental and intellectual disabilities at two Australian social enterprises. To better support workers with disabilities with inclusive practises, organisational management should not only focus on policies and practises, but also provide innovative and positive workplace experiences.


The perks of being a PhD student rep

By Anne Brouwer

Why would you become a student representative?

Let me rephrase that.Why would you want to read 30-page policies? Why would you want to spend hours in meetings? Why would you choose to put yourself out there and speak up to higher management? Why would you want to deal with other people’s problems? Why would you want to be the one to open up a can of worms?

You won’t believe this, but it’s actually quite fun!

Of course, there is the feeling of satisfaction for serving the greater good. I can’t deny that it feels awesome to help fellow graduate students when they have issues concerning their PhD journey.

There is the unique experience of learning how educational institutions operate, of realising how complex universities are and getting a sense of the politics behind it.

There are the networks you make, not only with fellow graduate students but getting to personally know the people in charge! You know, the ones that help run this joint, like the Dean, Associate Vice-Chancellors, Pro-Vice Chancellors, School Graduate Coordinators and so on. They are the kind of people that might come in handy when you need an extension, reference or a job.

Talking about jobs, extracurricular activities definitely boost your resume. I have built up a wide array of examples for future job interviews that show leadership skills, project management, resolving conflict situations, organising events, time management, teamwork, etc. I hate to say it, but it’s important to show your future employer that you’re more than just a person who holds a doctorate. Let’s face it, our future prospects in academia don’t look all that great, especially not when all you have been doing is your PhD, just like all the others holding doctorates out there.

But, as I said earlier, it is also just really fun. Going to exclusive events, getting free food and drinks, making new friends among your fellow PhD students, learning that the students in the other College aren’t as scary after all, and just getting the opportunity to hang out with people you would otherwise never come across.

Another great thing about being a student rep is that it allows you to get away from your PhD research without feeling too guilty about it. I quickly realised that working full-time on my PhD research was not going to work for me. It is mentally draining, I have a short attention span, and I’m easily bored. These three years should not only be about working hard on my research, but also for some socialising, fun, and freebies as well!

And if you think “it doesn’t matter because nobody will listen to us”, you’ve got it all wrong. When I started out as a graduate student representative about a year ago, I quickly came to realise that La Trobe takes its graduate student reps seriously. When we raise issues, action is usually taken straight away and feedback that we give on candidature policies actually gets incorporated.

If you are like me and allergic to people who only complain and don’t do anything to make their problems go away, and if you read this blog thinking being a student rep could indeed be fun, then shoot me an email ( and let’s talk about how you can get involved!

Anne Brouwer is a PhD Candidate and a Research Scholar in the La Trobe Business School at La Trobe University. 

She has completed a Master of Science degree from both the Technical University Munich and University of Wageningen, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. Her research interests are in green marketing, greenwashing and sustainable consumption. 

She is the student representative for the ASSC College on the Board of Graduate Research and the student representative for the La Trobe Business School. 

Outside LTU activities she travels around the world (whenever her schedule allows it), volunteers as a marketer for a non-profit organisation, hikes around Victoria and cycles a lot. She tweets from @AnneRBrouwer.

This post was originally published on the RED Alert Research Blog.

Meet your Teachers – Daniel Nguyen

Daniel is a PhD candidate at La Trobe, and also lectures in finance and economics and has taught at La Trobe since 2012. Originally from Vietnam, Daniel graduated from Foreign Trade University  in Ho Chi Minh City, studying a Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours. In the final six months of his degree, Daniel got a job with HSBC in Vietnam. Daniel then moved over to work at HSBC in Hong Kong before getting a scholarship to study his Masters in Financial Analysis at La Trobe. After finishing his Masters, Daniel was afforded the opportunity to be a research assistant at La Trobe. He would then receive a scholarship to complete a PhD at La Trobe, which he will complete in 2017.

During his teaching time at La Trobe, Daniel has lectured and tutored in multiple subjects in the finance and economics disciplines. As of late, Daniel has been a lecturer in the subjects ‘Modelling Econometrics’ and ‘Computational Finance’. As a teacher, Daniel believes that blending of practical examples and theory are the best way of teaching students.

“I just want to make it practical and interesting to my students. (Looking at) what will happen in their life and how we can apply the theory and the knowledge that you have learnt in university to measure something in the real world,” Daniel says.

Daniel has recently been recognised for his outstanding teaching. In July, Daniel won an award from the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the College of ASSC, for “embracing the lecturing role with great enthusiasm, effort and providing a great learning experience”. More precious to Daniel, however, was a teaching award given to him by the La Trobe Student Union.

Daniel at the La Trobe Student Union Awards

“To me the La Trobe Student Union teaching award is the most precious one because it’s voted by my students. This means they realise and appreciate my assistance and my teaching is good to them,” Daniel says.

Exam Advice

Daniel’s advice for students during exams is to stay focused throughout the whole semester. This, he believes, will help students when we come to final exams.

“Education is a lifelong process. (That) means do not wait until the last minute to ask questions because in the last minute, you will be very confused and you will get lost,” Daniel explains.

Daniel says that we should try to go over the final few lectures to prepare for exams.

“Go to the last recorded lecture. I think most lecturers will give you some hints and some guidance for subject revision and especially for the final exam,” Daniel says.

“Usually the final exam just replicates what you’ve learnt during the semester in tutorial exercises and lecture examples so go back over those,” Daniel continues.

This post was originally published on the ‘Wise ASSC’ student blog.

Student blogger for ASSC


By Sam Murphy

Hello all,

My name is Sam Murphy and I’m the student blogger for the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. You can check out the site here. The blog, called ‘Wise ASSC’, is a new outlet that is aimed at engaging with students on an informal level.

We’ll be giving you some great study and exam tips, introducing you to outstanding ASSC students and academics, as well as looking at upcoming ASSC and La Trobe events.

We’ve got some great content over on the blog already that relates to La Trobe Business School.

Just recently we had a chat to Daniel Nguyen, a lecturer and tutor at La Trobe in finance and economics who is also a PhD candidate. He spoke to us about his professional experience before La Trobe, winning a teaching award from the La Trobe Student Union, as well as giving students some tips for the exam period.

We’ve also recently just featured some great internship and work experience opportunities over the summer. Some of these opportunities include a Marketing internship, an HR internship and a Finance internship. Check them out here.

Finally, while it has finished, we looked over some great study and preparation tips for students undergoing exams. We also looked at some ways to stay productive over the SWOTVAC, as well as finishing end of semester assessments.  These tips will still be useful for summer semester and for next year.

We’ve got some great stuff planned for the rest of this month which all ASSC students should definitely look out for. We’ll also be back bigger and better than ever in 2017 so stay tuned for that.

Until then, happy end of semester!

From uncertainty to the semi-structured interview


By Jason Murphy

Taking on a PhD while working full-time can be a rewarding experience. I get to delve into an area of intellectual enquiry in a really rigorous way, and in a fashion that I’d be unlikely to undertake during my spare time!

My post today shares my preliminary experiences with research interviews. I hope it will prove useful to others in the social sciences. I present this post with the caveat that I’m by no means an expert in this area, and that these insights are things that I’ve learned along the way.

Within the social sciences – my discipline – candidature often involves establishing your position, concerns and argument within the existing literature and defining your methodological approach. This is often done before attempting to collect your data.

For those who are studying part-time, this can be a considerable journey and one that almost risks the complete abstraction of your original question and motivation for embarking on your journey of enquiry.

In my own case, it’s been a truly humbling experience and one where, quite honestly, the more I “learned” (note those deliberate commas); the more I delved and enquired, the further I seemed to drift away from any kind of absolute clarity about what I was doing.

In other words, the more I learned the less I knew. With this came an acute sense of ambiguity within a boundless ocean of perspectives, enquiries, points of view, etc.

While the journey can be long, once you’ve reached an outline or semi-definite position from which to form your argument, you’ll need to gather your data.

You’ll be presented with the very real task of applying your foundational work to a tangible world of differing uncertainty– something that lives outside of your head: the world of others. Critically, your enquiry will need to be grounded and of some practical use to others, in an applied or theoretical sense.

My journey took me to the semi-structured interview and, with this, a considerable level of anxiety and self-doubt about its effectiveness as a method and my effectiveness as an interviewer!

I was very fortunate that my supervisors have a lot of experience in the area of interviewing and qualitative enquiry, and they were happy to share this expertise and guide me through a lot of my own self-doubt. A really critical point here was their recommendation to produce a pilot study. This involved taking every aspect of the interviewing process: the recruitment; the formal, ethical considerations; the interview itself; the transcription of data; and, finally, a draft analysis.

This process was extremely helpful because I could choose people with whom I was already acquainted, were part of a valid target group, and would be able to appreciate and support the pilot nature of the study at this point. It allowed me to be clearer about the formal processes (starting the participation information statement, acquiring signed consent and explaining the project), the technical requirements (using the audio equipment effectively and testing it in a number of environments), reflection and refinement of the interview questions, the process of transcribing an interview, and the analysis of the data itself.

If you’re about to start using interviews for the first time, I can’t recommend enough doing a pilot study. It really helps you to live through the experience and gain insights that you wouldn’t necessarily have considered. It will also give you an opportunity to reflect again on how well your questions are working.

Right now, at the point of writing this post, I’ve done over twenty interviews and I’m still learning new things every time! It’s a really complex process – there are whole shelves of libraries devoted to the issues!

Here are a few strategies that I think would help those getting started with research interviews:

  • Do as much of the technical/formal parts ahead of time (at least a day before), like sending on copies of the paperwork, testing your audio equipment, and recharging your extra set of batteries.
  • Send your participate a calendar invite to lock in your date and time. Send them a reminder the day before.
  • Bring along hard copies of the paperwork and the consent form.
  • You’re probably going to feel mildly to acutely nervous. Try your best to remain calm and remember that it’s not about you – it’s all about your participant. If you transfer this nervousness to your participant, it will be harder for them to relax into the interview and you will be less likely to gain deep insights.
  • Quickly form a rapport with your participant. Show an interest in them and find points of common experience early on, but make sure you get into the formal interview as quickly as you can.
  • Rather than taking notes during your interview, make lots of eye contact with your participant and listen to them as closely as possible. Listen for opportunities to ask follow up questions, or to probe their response more deeply. Sometimes, participants will begin making a statement and change the subject – this can be a great opportunity for an unplanned follow up question that delves deeper.
  • My interviews are semi-structured, and it has proven useful to be familiar with the questions, or themes, but not approach the interviews in a rigid way. Every participant is different, and being relaxed, and using cues to adjust the focus of the conversation is one way of keeping the conversation flowing and relaxed. Your participant is more likely to share deep themes if they are relaxed.

I tried to gather some field notes soon after the interview is complete. Sometimes, I use my iPhone to record these as spoken notes. Other times, I scribble down some bullet points if I’m pressed for time but, ultimately, I try to record in long form observations about the interview and how it went. I focus on the environment where the interview took place, the body language, and personal feelings and emotions around how well the discussion went. These notes will provide you with additional context around each discussion.

One of the significant parts of the interview process is the transcription itself. I was very surprised by how time-consuming this can be. I’m not a slow typist, but it can take me a whole day to transcribe a single, one-hour interview! While there is no better way to get close to your data, I’d recommend that you consider transcribing every second interview, and having the others professionally transcribed. It will free up time and energy to focus on recruitment and reflection on your data. My department had some funds available to support research-related expenses, which I was able to apply for after discussion with my supervisors. While you will still need to carefully check your transcriptions for accuracy, this takes 1–2 hours, instead of a whole day. This can also be a good opportunity to take further notes about key parts of your interviews.

Finally, the key thing that I’m discovering even as I write this post is that although I have put countless hours of preparation into positioning my study and delving into theories that surround my topic, research by its nature has an inescapable core: discovery.

I couldn’t help forming assumptions around what I’d find through my interviews, but these are the things you bring as a researcher to your field. Ultimately, you don’t know what you are going to find, and I’ve been finding that I have needed to correct myself and be open to learning the things that I didn’t know were there.

I believe that this open, adaptable approach is necessary with interviews, in order to be able to learn fully from your participants, and have a chance at seeing what it is they have been willing to share with you.

Jason Murphy works with the La Trobe University Graduate Research School (GRS) as a senior research communications advisor. He manages the GRS website, social media, and newsletters that reach out to graduate researchers. His professional goal is to help make La Trobe a great place to do research.

Jason is also a PhD candidate at La Trobe Business School. His multidisciplinary PhD research focuses on the work of marketing professionals and asks if this contributes to ideologies that reinforce and perpetuate social class. Situated in the field of marketing, the project draws from work in the fields of marketing, anthropology, and the broader social sciences. He tweets at @murphy_jason and you can connect with him via LinkedIn.

This piece was originally published on the Red Alert blog.

LBS PhD candidates researching greenwashing and the well-being of para-athletes

Hannah MacDougall Anne Brouwer Is Nothing Sacred

Last month, La Trobe Business School PhD students Hannah MacDougall and Anne Brouwer were featured in an episode of Is Nothing Sacred?, airing on Joy FM radio station. In the episode, five La Trobe University PhD students summarise the subjects of their thesis and answer further questions.

Anne Brouwer speaks about green-washing, while Hannah MacDougall’s research analyses the well-being of para-athletes. Hannah McDougal was one of the finalists for the 3MT competition in 2015.

Listen to the full episode on the JOY 94.9 FM website.

‘A Leg up to Well-Being’: Hannah MacDougall runner up in La Trobe’s 3MT competition!

In the 2015 finals of La Trobe’s 3MT competition, Hannah MacDougall presented her PhD research as one of the finalists, and did exceptionally well in finishing as runner up. Hannah is undertaking her PhD in Sport Management in the Department of Management and Marketing in LBS, and is supervised by Dr Emma Sherry, Professor Nora Shields and Dr Paul O’Halloran.

Hannah’s PhD, which she is currently completing by publication, focuses on the topic of Athlete Well-Being. The first stage of her PhD was a systematic review that compared the well-being of Australian Para and Olympic Sport athletes. Meta-analyses revealed that Para athletes, compared with Olympic sport athletes, had lower levels of self-acceptance, indicated by athletic identity, and body-image perceptions, and differed from Olympic sport athletes in terms of their motivation, indicated by a greater mastery-oriented climate. The review also indicated a need to establish the well-being of Para and Olympic sport athletes using valid and reliable measures of well-being, as well as determine what well-being means in the Para sport context.

The second stage of Hannah‘s PhD investigated the well-being needs and strengths of Para athletes in a global and sport-specific context.  The qualitative study found that the well-being needs and strengths of Para athletes differed across gender, sport, level of competition, and nature of impairment. Well-being needs were an interaction between physical pain, emotional regulation, lacking purpose outside of sport, and a lack of self-acceptance, especially for athletes with acquired impairments. Well-being strengths were perceived to increase as athletes increased their level of competition, and included personal growth, optimism, strong social support networks, and contributing to multiple communities.

The third stage will establish the well-being levels of Para and Olympic Sport athletes, and determine if there are any significant differences between these two groups as well as significant differences between congenital and acquired Para athletes. The quantitative study was conducted through an online survey and had 309 participants. Hannah is currently in the process of analysing her data.

The fourth and final stage of her PhD will be a targeted well-being RCT for Para athletes. The RCT will be 8 x 1hr individual face-to-face sessions and focus on training attentional focus and strengthening the brain muscle of athletes. The RCT will be conducted from November 2015 – February 2016. Watch her three-minute pitch of this thesis above.

The La Trobe 3MT final was held on the 2nd of September in the John Scott Meeting House and saw 8 finalists battle it out for the right to represent La Trobe at the 3MT Tran-Tasman final held in October in Queensland. The level of competition between candidates saw extremely high quality presentations and topics range from vocal health for Aussie Basketball coaches to ‘Avoiding Robots’. With great prizes up for grabs, the people’s choice and overall winner of the La Trobe 3MT thesis went to Jen Wiltshire with her presentation on ‘Why I love dirt’.

3MT® is a research-communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ). The exercise challenges PhD candidates to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance in just three minutes. 3MT® develops academic, presentation, and research-communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

La Trobe Business School would like to congratulate Hannah for her great presentation in the 3MT finals!

Emma Sherry Hannah MacDougall 3MT Finalist from La Trobe Business School a leg up to well-being

Hannah MacDougall 3MT Finalist from La Trobe Business School a leg up to well-being


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