Stella Pachidi visits McGill University in Montreal

Dr. Stella Pachidi is currently a Lecturer  in Information Systems at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, which she started right after she finished her PhD at ABRI. Her research interests lie in the intersection of technology, work and organising. Currently, her research projects include the introduction of algorithmic technologies (such as analytics and artificial intelligence) in organizations; managing challenges in the workplace with digitization; and practices of knowledge collaboration across boundaries. During her PhD, she visited Prof. Samer Faraj at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She wrote the following blogpost about the visit. A visit that added to her impressive resume and wonderful personality that got her into her current position at University of Cambridge.

The visit at McGill University
It all started that summer in 2013: After Professor Samer Faraj visited our KIN Research group for a few weeks, he invited Montserrat Prats Lopez (also graduated in the meanwhile) and me to visit McGill University that fall and attend his doctoral seminar on Technology and Collaboration. Who would say no to such an opportunity?

I arrived in Montreal with a travel guide I had had no time to read. Arriving at a new campus is always a great adventure! Walking through the corridors and looking at how people interact, how things are organized, that’s always fun! In our meeting, Samer suggested me to take advantage of my time at McGill and try to learn as much as possible, so following a second course would be certainly beneficial. He asked dr. Robert David to let me attend his doctoral seminar on Organization Theory. So there I was, first day at McGill, sitting at the MBA students area and trying to quickly read the material for the first class of Organization Theory, which was after two hours! I entered the class and in 5 minutes time I felt I was already getting to know the different context in which McGill PhD students work and study. And I seemed to like it a lot!

A couple of days later, I realized that Wednesday would become my favorite day of the week for the next 3 months! On that day, we had the sessions with the Technology and Collaboration class! The intellectual discussions we got to have every week, covering relevant theories such as practice theory, knowledge, coordination, sociomateriality, affordances and more, were enlightening and quite enjoyable! No matter how hard we had to work (and trust me, we had to work really hard!), we were all quite enthusiastic and energetic, ready to share all our opinions, trying to transcend our boundaries and to create a common language to discuss the literature. I am so going to miss those Wednesdays! Having the opportunity to follow a structured syllabus and also to discuss the papers with your peers is amazingly beneficial, especially for a PhD student. And the dynamics of the group contributed into having a creative and inspiring atmosphere around us!

More on Stella can be found on her website:

Pachidi Stella Blog

Ruben van Werven visits Cass Business School in London

Ruben is currently Lecturer  in Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School, where he started after his PhD defense. Below is his post on the time he spent abroad during his PhD at ABRI.

When I started the third year of my PhD back in September 2013, my supervisor told me that if I wanted to do a visit to another university, this would be the right time: I just finished collecting my data, was starting to analyze it, and some initial ideas about the theoretical positioning started to take shape. In that stage of a dissertation, he said, it could be great to interact with a different group of people. I agreed, and asked him later that year if he knew professors at European business schools that might be a suitable destination for my visit. Lucky for me, my supervisor is well connected, so he offered me a range of options. I asked him to get me into touch with Andre Spicer at Cass Business School. To me, this seemed the perfect place to go: I was told that Cass is a great working environment, and London promised to be a city where I could not just work on my dissertation, but also have a good time.
At the end of March 2014, I packed my bags and moved to London for three months. Organizing the visit had gone very smoothly. After a few emails to Andre and the Cass admin team, I knew there would be a desk waiting for me, an email address had been created, and I was added to several relevant mailing lists. It turned out that this was representative of the months to come. My time at Cass was great! The atmosphere at Cass was very collegial, in the sense that many faculty members and PhD students invited me for seminars and workshops, and took me out for beers and pizza nights. I had regular meetings with my host Andre, whose comments were very helpful. And even though I was ‘only’ a visiting PhD student who would be around for a few months, everyone I asked to meet and discuss my research ideas was more than happy to sit down with me, and gave me extremely useful feedback.
Apart from being helpful to my research, my visit to Cass was also a lot of fun. I made new friends, and got to explore a new city, which to me were additional reasons to do a visit. And last but not least, and very much unintended: spending three months at Cass is one of the reasons I am now working there as a lecturer (assistant professor) in Entrepreneurship. One of the main things the faculty at Cass considers when hiring new people, as probably anywhere else, is whether the new recruit fits the group. Because I already spent a few months there in 2014, they got to know me. That has really been an advantage for me in the hiring decision. So if you are considering an academic career after your PhD, keep in mind that doing a research visit not just allows you to learn, but also gives you the opportunity to find out what environment you would like to work in, and potentially even increases your chances of finding a job.
Even though I am still working on some chapters of my dissertation these days (preparing them for journal submission), I have also started several new research projects on the acquisition of resources and legitimacy by startup entrepreneurs, both with former ABRI colleagues and new colleagues here at Cass. And I am coordinating and teaching to entrepreneurship courses, one for bachelor and one for master students. Because of all this, it has been very exciting to return to London, and explore new ideas in a working environment that is both new and familiar to me. So it should come as no surprise that I would wholeheartedly recommend everyone to do a research visit during their PhD!

Werven Ruben van Blog