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Gordon Leonard



More about Gordon

What motivated you to undertake the DBA?

I was looking to take my career in a new direction and working in the UK University system the next logical step was to take a doctoral course. After obtaining my Chinese Studies Masters degree in Scotland in 2005, I eventually found my way to my current position managing a business management course here in China. After accumulating experience as a skilled tutor (and being awarded for it by the Sichuan Provincial Government), getting acquainted with and becoming an active researcher of business was the obvious route forward for me.

Why did you choose to study your course and what did/do you enjoy about it?

I chose the DBA at Nottingham Business School for a number of reasons – firstly it is one of the longest running DBA’s in the UK with a great track record of student completions. Secondly, the expertise, breadth and depth of the faculty means that the research area I am interested in would find a suitable and supportive set of supervisors. I also chose the course due to the convenience of the starting date which in my case was February 2015. This meant I could be starting on my first assignment and had it submitted before the “normal” academic year begins in September. Finally, a DBA for me allows the right balance of “industry” and “academic” worlds. A standard PhD wouldn’t have worked out as well for me as the experience of being part of an actual cohort that attends a number of workshops over the lifespan of the award helps keep me motivated and on track. Having a support network of other students who are going through similar issues is in it’s own way comforting and you don’t feel like you are stuck out on your own.

Why did you choose Nottingham Trent University?

In addition to what I have mentioned above, I chose Nottingham Trent as it’s business school is highly regarded and also for the range of experience that is found within the faculty there. I also found out from a colleague here in China about the strong links the University has maintained with local industry and the strong support they offer all of their students.  The cost of course is also a factor I have to consider with this DBA packing the most “bang for the buck” in my opinion.

What do you think sets Nottingham Trent University apart from other Universities offering a similar course?

Having two supervisors is unusual and not something that you hear from many people who are studying on different doctorates. This is something that clearly distinguishes the NBS DBA from most of it’s competitors. This dual supervision means you get a variety of perspectives on your work and this helps build your overall research into something that should one day be more appealing and enduring for the business research community.

What did you enjoy about your fellow students/staff?

I enjoy the diversity, not only in terms of the variety of cultural backgrounds members of the cohort come from, but also the different research fields they are engaged in. We have people who are looking at things as diverse as fashion retail, to the African oil industry, to corruption in South America. Each time I hear a colleague present their ideas I am privileged to hear how they have furthered their understanding of their own area of specialisation and how they are making a contribution to knowledge.

How has the DBA contributed to your current occupation/ career?

So far as a student at Nottingham Business School I was able to access an international student scholarship which are paid out annually to students who are travelling to another country and connected to their field of study. I was lucky enough to travel to North Korea (or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as they say there) with a group of business educators. The non-profit organisation I went with is called Choson Exchange and it’s objective is to expose more people within North Korea to business knowledge and experience so they can make more meaningful changes in their own lives. The focus on this country in the media tends to look almost exclusively at military and political issues and this work sheds a light on the changes that are taking place there and how individuals there are starting to see a new way forward for developing the country. I have written an article on my experience there and it appeared in Business & Finance magazine (Link here:

Going forward as I start analysing the data I am collecting for my research, I am looking at attending conferences in my field in the coming 12 months. Attending conferences will expose me more to researchers who are more experienced than me but also those who are looking at similar issues to me. I look forward to interacting in this environment and hopefully making some meaningful contributions along the way.

What are your plans for the future and do you feel that NBS helped enhance your skill set to achieve it?

I would like to start publishing research and I do think that the skills we have to master for the doctorate put us in a very strong position to do this. We have had workshops where we have heard from specific experiences of NBS tutors who themselves have had to work on the craft of research and writing. Hearing from them was in a way comforting as the process of research is in fact messy and not as ordered as a final journal article may portray it as.

Would you recommend studying at Nottingham Trent University to prospective students and why?

Yes, absolutely. As I have mentioned you are getting supervised by two experienced members of staff who really drive you on and challenge your thoughts about your research. Nottingham itself is a lovely city and I enjoy having to travel there no matter if it’s in Winter or Summer. The weather was particularly lovely for our last workshop in May so it’s not all rain and gloomy weather. I can also highly commend all of the support services that are on offer at NTU. I have high praise for the library team who have always been very responsive to any requests I have sent through. Study spaces have also now been prioritised for doctoral students in the business school which if I was located closer to the university I would be using all the time.

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