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Hankering Decisions! - Ph.D. OR Industry

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    Hankering Decisions! - Ph.D. OR Industry

    Well yes, here I am again with a question for all who may have gone through this or may have some input/thoughts on this… my research proposal has been accepted for a Ph.D. by the three out of four universities that I applied to, and now its time to answer some very fundamental questions before I put in a formal admission application and that is whether I really wanna do this!

    To provide a little more context, I’m finishing an MBA with a major in eBusiness and a research focus in Knowledge Management. My undergrad degree is in Computer Science, and I’ve held various research and teaching positions at colleges and universities across North America. Throughout my studies, I’ve also enjoyed working in the industry… with my significant experiences at IBM and GE – currently my job role being more of a Project Lead for Business process reengineering.

    At this juncture, it is a decision between continuing grad school for another 3 years! or establishing myself on a more permanent basis in the industry. Alhamdullilah, opportunities and prospects in both domains are readily available.

    I guess what I’m asking here is from those of who who had to make similar decisions, what did you do, why did you do it and in hindsight would you have done it any different? Its surely a rigorous and painstaking enterprise with its benefits in the form of respect and personal self-fulfillment but what I’m not sure about is the practicality and prudence of what I wanna do.

    To end this on a funny note:
    Being a graduate student is like becoming all of the Seven Dwarves. In the beginning you're Dopey and Bashful. In the middle, you are usually sick (Sneezy), tired (Sleepy), and irritable (Grumpy). But at the end, they call you Doc, and then you're Happy.
    For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining - and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction - Khalil Gibran

    it all depends on what you want to do, what role you see for yourself and what do you enjoy doing.

    I was not going for a PhD but a DBA, which is a doctoroate in Business administration but then decided to not go for it.

    My most basic reason was that i did not see myself as a researcher or in academia. I wanted to get on with the career and get in the industry.

    I assessed experience, career aspirations, where do I need to go, how would teh doctorate degree aid in my career or delay my start etc etc. and decided that I was not certain that the time and effort would pay off at that point in time.

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


      I really haven't heard about the DBA all that much... what universities offer that program... how is it different than a
      traditional PhD. ??

      My intended area of research is Knowledge Based Systems & Business Intelligence Networks... and the thing is - it has a multi-discipline focus and is offered by different depts. depending on the school - for e.g. at my current univ. I would be with the school of business whereas if I accept the U of Toronto offer, I'd be at the Dept. of Industrial Engineering.

      On your note about "career", research and academia is a career! however, the way I would like things to work out for me is that I get a research sponsor during the course of my Ph.D. and whatever research I do can be directly applied to their business. Ultimately, I want to be involved in industry research initiatives with analogous interests in academia.

      [This message has been edited by Umar Talib (edited July 18, 2002).]
      For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining - and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction - Khalil Gibran


        Umar not to take people away from your question, I was wondering if you could possibly tell me some more about the path you took towards your MBA?

        The reason why I ask is because I'm under the impression that business schools require quite a bit of experience of their applicants. And you seem to have moved on from U of T to McMaster fairly swiftly (at least that's what I got from your posts).

        Again do not mean to distract folks from addressing the purpose of this thread but I would appreciate it if you could pen some thoughts down in your free time.


          Well I think you should go for you Ph.D. Knowing you and reading your posts I know that you are a smart guy and you CAN do this, that and the other. If you pass on this opportunity you will never get this chance again and a person like you who has worked hard on academics and career building might regret it later in his life.

          However, speaking from Industry experience I don't think having a PhD would make a great difference. People with Master's degrees make equal if not more money than those who do PhD...but then again like Fraudia said its entirely up to you what is important to, degree, self satisfaction or just letting rest of the world know that you are smarter than them .(I know u like the last part J)

          Good Luck!

          BoSS 'its good to know parhay likhay ppl ;-)'


            Don't take my word for it but a friend of mine told me that for business one should not get a pH.D as it makes one seem to academic. He said to me to only consider getting a pH.D if i wanted to go into teaching otherwise just get a masters.


              it depends a lot on what your career plans are and why you want to get a PhD. A lot of desi people get the PhD for the recognition it gets them amongst the community. A PhD primarily is for academic research. if your primary goal is to work in the industry then the work experience is a lot more useful and it will allow you to develop a lot more in your career. It can also allow you to develop a lot more unique ways of solving practical problems.

              Although the academic sector solves a lot of practical problems, people often forget that the actual implememtation is done by the industry worker and is just as important. 3 yrs is a fair amount of time.

              That been said it also depends on what university you are getting your PhD from. A friend of mine wanted to get a PhD but only from MIT and it worked out for him.

              Think of your PhD in the following way:
              What do you have to give up?
              What do you gain?
              And how do the above to affect your professional and social life.
              Getting the degree is 10% of the work, what you do with that knowledge is 90%. Or in other words, if you are motivated enough to do the 3 yrs of work even if you did not get a paper saying PhD then go for it, otherwise otherwise.


                Go for it, you sound intelligent If you won't try it you would regret it in some years, anyway 3 years isn't such a long time, if I would have given such an opportunity and I would have grabed it.



                  even if you are into research and charting new territories, many companies will allow you to do that, if you are looking into knowledger management, consultign companies or companies creating products and apps for the KM arena love to have people who have an interest in research etc.

                  The challenge also is, how fast is the industry changing and can the PhD program keep pace with it? I mean you dont want to do some research on a subject and it become obsolete or everyday knowledge. If you want to be cutting edge than you have to see teh flexibility of the PhD program with the speed that the industry is evolving as well.

                  What I know about you and your interests, I think PhD may be a suitable road for you.

                  for DBA, I was going to join HBS. It is a little bit different from a traditional PhD because it has more of a practical focus, they admit about 70 students each year.
                  The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


                    From a career enhancement perspective, if you choose to continue in the industry...I woould have to say that getting a PHD has a negative ROI.

                    If you are more interested in research/Academia, then go for it.


                      this would be the best time for you to get a phd..u sound to be motivated, have the opportunity..
                      besides, it is not very easy to get a phd in the later yrs of ur life. atleast you won't have to say "if i had a phd"..

                      I dunno where I'm going. I dunno what for. But I'm making progress.
                      I don't know where I am going. I don't know what for but I am making progress.


                        Originally posted by Ahmar:
                        From a career enhancement perspective, if you choose to continue in the industry...I woould have to say that getting a PHD has a negative ROI.

                        If you are more interested in research/Academia, then go for it.
                        I agree.


                          Thanks everyone for replying and appreciate your suggestions / advice… it’s surely complicated deciding about something that’s gonna map your future course for good! You got to consider allt he intricate details, and of course, your objectives and goals are just a starting point.

                          BoSS, self-fulfillment like I said, is a definite part of the decision… there are things you do to survive and excel in the world, and then thre are things you really want to do!... I’ve done a Comp. Sci. degree and an M.B.A. for the former and I guess the Ph.D. is in that latter category of things.

                          Google, Sheikh, Ahmar and hmcq, I can’t really seem to do a real-terms and concrete cost-benefit analysis of my decision… surely financially, the ROI of this Ph.D. enterprise isn’t all that attractive in monetary terms… I know that… I’m not gonna be making a lot more than I would with just my M.B.A. and I am spending 3 more years as a “graduate student” where my standard of living aint gonna be all that great! But thanks for re-iterating and affirming that negative side – I do need to be aware of it b4 I embark.

                          Fraudia, yeah buddy, it’ll be absolutely awesome to have that flexibility in my research… but I dunn wanna spend forever in getting the Ph.D. and yeah, like I said, I’d be very happy if I can get an industry sponsor to back-up my research so that I can see a parallel business application as well.

                          Saadia, thanks a bunch for the encouraging words!

                          I think I’ve finally made up my mind about this unless something in the next 6 – 8 months changes drastically… I’m gonna do it!
                          I’m just waiting to hear from LSE, and have to decide about where I wanna go.

                          Sambrialian, to answer your question, yes, the transition from my B.Sc. has been somewhat different than the traditional undergrad to business school journey. You do need work-experience to get in. I have been working 2 part-time jobs to sustain my studies throughout the undergrad years – that fulfilled the reqs. for 4 / 5 schools I applied to for the M.B.A. – chose McMaster cuz it was one of the two places in Canada offering an eBusiness M.B.A. and so far I love it…
                          Secondly, I went for a summer long research project to Johns Hopkins on a National Science Foundation scholarship. Its something that’s made available world-round and they select six undergrad students every year… I was fortunate to have been selected for that, and the research papers that we published and presented at the IEEE conferences helped a lot in enhancing the portfolio.
                          I’ll be happy to discuss more… EM me or PM me if there’s anything else you’d like to know.
                          For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining - and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction - Khalil Gibran


                            It was not ment to be negative, just practical. I know a few friends who fell through cause they were not sure of it before hand. Its great that you have decided. Just be steadfast in it. If you are choosing between the North American Schools and LSE I would definatelty reccommend LSE. One of my class mates spent a year there and absolutely loved it.

                            Good luck and based on your past performance you should have no problem getting this one.!


                              no sweat buddy! ... just that always you need to be cognisant of the pros and cons.

                              Yes, LSE would be really nice, but there's more to than just getting in... I need to get a full scholarship/some sort of a fellowship to pursue that avenue - otherwise, I'm afraid I'll hafta stick right here at U of T or McMaster. Right now, I have a full scholarship offer from Mac and a tuition scholarship from U of T for the duration of my residency.
                              For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining - and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction - Khalil Gibran