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Mark - career building during the PhD
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Name: Mark
PhD discipline: Philosophy
Area(s) of work: NGO; university teaching
Year of graduation: 2006
Date of Interview: 24/06/2008

Now Playing: Mark - career building during the PhD
Mark describes how he juggled lots of business interests whilst studying for his PhD.

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Aside from the thesis, what else were you doing during your PhD? 

Well I started off probably three quarters of the time on my PhD and a quarter of the time teaching in the philosophy department. So about two years into my PhD I had the idea of starting up my business. In fact I think it was when the Enron scandal started to happen. I thought that now's the time. I formed a little company which had as its mission, to work alongside businesses to educate decision makers in the ethical component of their decision making. So that was only very part time, about half a day a week I was doing that.

How did you start that?

I just set up a company through a friend of mine who's an accountant, she led me through the process and then I got business cards and I just started talking to people about what I wanted to do and luckily I ended up with one quite major contract with a professional body to teach their professionals. It was actually engineering so I went full circle in my career in some ways. To teach them about professional ethics was quite a major part of it. The rest of it was much more word of mouth, I don't think anyone in New Zealand had really done that before. So there was that but that was only a little part of it, the other thing that happened was I ended up as the New Zealand director of a small NGO that does development in the slums of Asia. Specifically it sends people to live in the slums of Asia so instead of living in some compound and going in for a day and coming out they would actually live in the slum so they would get to know development from the bottom up working with people. I was spending a bit of time over there but also doing the New Zealand support end of that. In the end that was taking about three days a week and my teaching was about a day a week and my PhD went down to about a day a week so I was actually, at that point I had four roles. It was a bit strange actually.

How did you manage to juggle them all?

Well with difficulty. I like having lots of roles because I have lots of interests and I always thought that would be the ideal way to work but actually one of the problems is that you can never lay something down when you're attending to something else, if you've got multiple roles and so I think I ended up driving myself a bit mad really with the stress of having all those together. I was trying to pare down in the end to spend less time doing the non-government organisation work especially when I was trying to finish my PhD. The PhD was the thing that I would sacrifice because it was the thing that wasn't urgent. You know I could just not work on it today and I just have to work on it an extra day in two years time so there was nothing urgent about it except when my supervisor was on my back, so that suffered a little bit until I decided that I just wanted to prioritise it. Just do it!

Did funding become an issue when the PhD dragged on a bit?

Yeah, in the last couple of years I wasn't being directly funded. I was still teaching quite a bit and with teaching, once you have a set of lectures prepared and I'd lectured on quite a few things so I had quite a strong resource. It becomes a little bit more lucrative if you don't have to spend a day preparing a lecture, if you can just revise something for an hour and go. I really enjoyed lecturing as well so funding started to become a problem but not too much. Values wise, I was very switched on to the possibility of just being poor because the organisation I worked for, one of its principles is simplicity. A lot of the ethos that I live my life by was very much about simple living so I wasn't too worried about the money thing.

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