University’s first DBA Graduates ready to make a big difference

News Page 14th February 2019

After becoming the first recipients in the University’s history, our new DBA graduates are ready to put their learnings into practice in their high-flying careers.

Dr Shaun Hallam from Northampton and Dr Briony Fox from North Yorkshire both graduated with a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) earlier this month at the Royal and Derngate theatre.

They formed part of a trio to be the first to sign up for a DBA at the University, after all completing their MBAs at the university.

Shaun is assistant chief fire officer for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, and feels his DBA will aid the strategic side of his role – including planning, performance management, health and safety, programme management and governance.

Shaun said: “I chose the DBA route instead of a PhD because it allows you to apply theory in your workplace. The DBA develops your critical thinking in tackling problems as a part of an evidenced based approach. The Fire Sector is going through so much change at the moment, as the highest academic management qualification this has equipped me as a senior leader in the Service to best meet these challenges.”

Briony works for the North York Moors National Park Authority as Director of Conservation ensuring that the the natural and cultural heritage of the park are protected as well as overseeing the development of the new Polyhalite mine in the National Park.

Briony said: “I knew when I completed my MBA that I wanted to embark on a DBA programme so as soon as one became available at the university, I applied and have never looked back. Completing the DBA has already helped me to progress in my career and the skills I have gained from achieving this qualification will certainly equip me with the tools I need to achieve my professional goals.

“What impressed me most was the way that the staff challenge students to be curious, to research, to find evidence and to apply this in a practical professional setting. It really helped me to develop research skills and reinforced the value of evidence based practice and this has been invaluable for me professionally.”

With such responsibility in their working lives, the idea of embarking on an intense DBA course can be daunting whilst trying to keep a work-life balance. They both admitted that sacrifices needed to be made to succeed academically.

Shaun said: “Doctoral study is far different from anything else I have done, it does require a high level of commitment and comes with a lot of sacrifices, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. You cannot do it without the support of your family, work colleagues and your supervisors.

“I was lucky here as I couldn’t have been supported more. You do have to balance your career, but they go hand in hand. This is a professional doctorate so it not only has a contribution to knowledge but a contribution to practice. The end result is that it supports both your studies and your career at the same time.”

Briony added: “I found the facilitated learning modules very helpful in setting the routine for doctorate level learning. As a busy professional, it can be challenging to make time for personal and professional development so for me, making regular time in my diary for learning was immensely helpful.

“At times, because of other personal and professional pressures, I did need to pause my research work but the DBA is flexible and so this was not a problem. Undertaking research at this level does require discipline and perseverance but my tutors and supervisors were excellent. They challenged, motivated and supported me throughout the process.

“The biggest support factor was my fellow DBA students. The opportunity to work with senior level professionals outside of your own field of work is a real luxury and their support, experience and the way that they view the world really helped me to grow professionally and academically as well as making life-long friends.”

For more information on studying for a DBA, visit the website.

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