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Mark - did you anticipate an academic career?
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 - did you anticipate an academic career?
Mark recalls his transition from academia to the commercial sector and the reasons for this change.

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When you embarked on the PhD did you envisage an academic career at the end of it? 

Yes I think I did. I was working as an engineer and hating it before I started my Masters. I decided to throw myself into philosophy and in some ways it was academic. The academic career seemed almost the only thing, especially in philosophy, as it's not a particularly vocational degree. A lot of people go and do other things through it but a lot of people go on to do the academic thing. I felt I could be an academic and that I'd quite like it. I think, as I went through my PhD I realised more and more, I realised it stronger and stronger that I'm only really happy when I'm applying something I've learnt to some fairly tangible real world situation. I'm not the kind of person who likes to be at the coal face of one small, narrow discipline. I like to be standing back knowing enough about the discipline to be able to talk to the people that might be at the coal face and to read what they're doing but then to take that back down the mountain to apply it somewhere. The more I went through it, the more I realised that that was the case. I got less and less interested in an academic career as I went through and I decided that I wanted to get into helping businesses to examine the ethics of what they do. I set up a business while I was doing my PhD to teach ethics to business people and I had this idea; this is why I've ended up in London really, I had this idea of going away for a couple of years, working in that field and then coming back to New Zealand and setting up a business ethics centre. And that whole thought germinated during the PhD and as that got more exciting for me, the less I was wanting to do the academic thing. I mean I do, I love teaching. I love that experience of watching the lights go on in someone the first time they've heard an idea or when they've thought of something new themselves. But I think that I can get that through more the kind of work I'm doing now and the kind of work that I want to do in the future. One of the things about an academic career that I don't think I could handle, is just the sheer amount of time you spend alone in your office or at the library. I knew that when I was doing that there was a whole set of skills and abilities that I just wasn't using and I was using them more in my NGO work. There were a lot of things there around management, around planning, around much more people oriented, facilitation of people discovering what their calling was which was something that I really, really enjoy doing and I just wouldn't be getting that very much in an academic career.

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