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Sue Shepherd


United Kingdom

More about Sue

Current job title:

Director, Mid Trent Critical Care Network, East Midlands Major Trauma Network and East Midlands Spinal Network

What motivated you to undertake the DBA?

There were several things that motivated me to undertake the DBA. Having completed my MSc in Public Services Management at NTU, I found myself back at NTU as a guest lecturer. Conversations with academic colleagues and previous supervisors sparked the idea of the doctorate journey; further discussion with work colleagues and family made it possible. In truth I have an enquiring mind and enjoy the student experience; I came to realise that I missed the stimulus gained from being in an academic learning environment. I am a great believer in lifelong learning and enjoy the challenge of constructing new meaning from situations and experiences. Embarking on a doctoral degree therefore seemed the most obvious next step in my academic journey.

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

I work full-time and was looking to combine study with work in a way that would enhance my professional knowledge and skills through the application of research in practice. For me the DBA provided an exciting opportunity to explore the relationship between theory and practice and implement findings from my research to further develop and inform my area of work. Personally I found the DBA to be both a challenging and rewarding experience. It confirmed my enjoyment of the research process and provided me with the opportunity to explore my subject area in detail from a number of different perspectives.

Why did you choose Nottingham Trent University?

In truth I didn’t actually consider anywhere else to continue my studies. I had been more than well served by the University during the course of previous postgraduate studies and had already formed sound relationships with academic staff who I felt confident would continue to support me throughout my doctorate journey. NTU offers superb facilities and the closeness of the University to my home and place of work meant that I could more easily manage the pressures of work and study.

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

As a professional doctorate, the DBA enables students to undertake a work-based study utilising different research methodologies and methods. Students take part in a number of taught workshops offering opportunity for wider learning and discussion and benefit from working with fellow students from different countries and professions. The modular programme worked particularly well for me as a full-time manager and professional.

What did you enjoy about your fellow students/staff?

The doctorate journey is a long, and at times, difficult journey and it is fair to say that I was grateful to my supervisors and other academic colleagues for questioning me and for pushing me, but most of all for supporting and encouraging me throughout. Additionally in my cohort, we formed a remarkable Action Learning Set and I have made some lasting friendships. As fellow students we supported each other throughout the duration of the course and beyond and to this day we still meet up as often as time and distance allows.

What is your current occupation/role?

My current role is as Director of a number of clinical in the NHS.  I have responsibility for providing strategic leadership for the critical care, major trauma and spinal operational delivery networks in the East Midlands region.

What attracted you to this field of work?

I have a genuine interest in the networked model of care and was fortunate through my doctoral studies to explore this field of health care further.  I have worked in this environment for the past 17 years and recognise the benefits of bringing together clinical experts in a collaborative model of care to improve the experience and outcomes for patients. I thoroughly enjoy working with clinical colleagues and appreciate the benefits that my current role affords me in bringing these experts together to improve the quality and standard of care for our patients.

What are your career highlights so far?

I feel very privileged to have been able to progress my career in an area that really interests me. As a senior manager in the NHS I consider myself fortunate to constantly have the opportunity for further growth and development and to be in a position to share some of my own expertise and knowledge with others. I have undertaken a number of national roles over the years and continue to pursue my professional and academic interests.

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

My desire was to discover more about the mechanics of the networked organisation and ultimately this is what I have achieved. The DBA is however a professional research based qualification and this has taught me a lot about me as a person and as a professional. I have better come to appreciate how we are all shaped by our experiences and our beliefs and I have a greater appreciation of individuality. The DBA journey has given me more confidence to apply investigative approaches to decision-making and problem solving and a greater confidence in my explanations and I think that as a result I have become a better leader, manager and educator.  I have taken on new national and regional roles and have been offered formal appointments with our local universities.

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

In the work environment I hope to further develop the networks in the best way that serves our patients and our staff. I plan to retain my links with NTU as an Alumni Fellow and as a Visiting Fellow of the Business School and will seek to work with the University in a way that truly benefits current and future students and staff.

My personal reflections on completion of the DBA were that I had not reached the end, but rather the beginning. The DBA opens the doorway to professional academia, but in this, I am a novice.  My doctorate journey taught me how to be a researcher and further developed my skills and knowledge both as a professional and as an academic. The DBA is designed to develop researching professionals and I consider that I have become that researching professional.

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

From my perspective Nottingham Trent University is a progressive organisation that is continually looking to improve the student experience. Personally I think that the University has a lot to offer potential students in terms of opportunities and learning.  NTU supports an Alumni Fellowship scheme which I believe is an excellent programme connecting students and staff with past students so that they can learn from their experiences as a student and benefit from their broader professional knowledge and expertise.

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