Doing my PhD

Well for a long time I’ve been fascinated by business – did my Commerce degree at UQ in 1991 – I tortured myself a fair bit by deciding to do the Honours course.  Which was nothing like I thought it would be, and was certainly the hardest year of my life (so far) work-wise. 

Graduating in 1991 was not a good time.  Today, you graduate, you get paid $40,000 minimum, and the accounting firms fall over themselves to have you work for them for 2 years before you do the London thing.  In 1991, it was quite the other way around. So I didn’t work for an accounting firm.  Or a bank.  Who, in their wisdom, had decided the world actually really didn’t need accountants.  They were protecting their profits, but probably didn’t do too much for the profession. 

I worked in private schools for 5 years before realising that I probably didn’t want to stay in the same role for another fifteen years (advice I actually received – I was ‘too young’ to be promoted any more 🙂 – try that on today!).  So I went looking somewhere where being 27 was not considered a career choice!

I did my Masters in Information Systems in 1996 (finishing in 2000), again at UQ.  I became a CPA in 1997.  That opened up the door to consulting in business systems with both Horwath and then BDO Kendalls when Horwath merged into BDO Kendalls locally.  I joined the ITM CoE in 1998, and became its chair in 2002 after Tony Hayes moved on. 

I mostly loved BDO Kendalls as a firm – of course, we had our moments, but I was there for ten years so something must have been OK.  It’s a great accounting firm, with very talented and hardworking people.  Unfortunately due to family commitments and the need for long hours, I couldn’t stay there forever so it was best I leave and strike out on my own.  That has mostly worked well, although again that’s had its moments.  It’s reaffirmed my understanding of the need for cashflow in a small business in its growth phase, particularly during that all-important startup period!

Where’s this going?

Well, as part of my new-found life, which still very much involves consulting, but not trying to juggle family responsibilities and a national firm, I’ve done a little bit of lecturing from time to time (mostly QUT).  Which has been interesting and has lead to other things.  When I left, though, the plan was to work as a part-time lecturer as a sort of base job. 

I’ve since discovered that, in reality, to do that you mostly need to either have a PhD or be doing one.  I also found out the pay-rates for academics – even in IS, academics are paid less than the tealady in a commercial firm.  When a web-designer with four years experience commands a $70K package, and an associate lecturer gets $54K, there’s an economic imperative at work.

Fortunately I’m not entirely motivated by money – I like to do new things, interesting things, relevant things. Searching out mobile phone plans for clients is not necessarily my cup of tea (not one of my banner-moments in the past!).  Im a tad more ‘big-picture’ than that.  So I approached UQ about doing my PhD, and they just happen to have a scholarship going for a PhD student to review the impact of IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) on IT audit methodologies (see here, at the top of Page 54).  It’s almost exactly what I’m interested in, involves working with the auditors-general around the country, and it’s important (that’s why it’s one of those rare things, a PhD with funding – not a lot of funding really, for what is needed, but funding nonetheless). 

Peter tells me he’s after someone ‘mature’ to do the work – so maybe I’ve shaken off those baby-faced looks from when I was too young be promoted :).  Had to happen eventually I guess.

Personally it suits me to part-time consult and work on this topic.  It’s not quite exactly what I’m interested in, but half the work of a PhD is coming up with a topic, and here it is laid out for me on a platter, with funding and research subjects on the side.  So – I’ve said I’m up for doing it

So – I’m told an office is involved, and that I’ll have to be at UQ a fair amount of the time, but that is fairly flexible and it’s really about outcomes. The picture below is of the building at UQ where I’ll be spending most of my time.  I’ll have to buy myself some suspenders and jeans now that I’m working in academia.  There is a coffee shop and it’s a wonderful location (parking is kind of poor but we’ll deal with that and how bad could it possibly be (gak! famous last words!).

For any clients reading this, please note that I’ll still be available for consulting work – for most clients, pretty much on the same basis as before.  You won’t notice the difference, I promise, and in the meantime I get to work with some great people on a big-picture topic area of interest.  In fact, it’s a topic that’s just crying out for consulting and linking with the business community.

Guess that’s why it’s a linkage grant then, huh.

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