07 January 2021
Brittany Regal is a current PhD student at King's Business School.
Tell us a little bit about your PhD research topic. Who is your supervisory team?
My PhD project looks at how/why public & third sector organisations seek to engage with young people in more participatory ways. For example, through the co-production or co-creation of projects or services. My PhD supervisors are Prof Ewan Ferlie and Dr Ali Budjanovcanin.
What are your research interests and how have they evolved?
My research interests include government, governance, leadership, co-creation, and co-production. I was previously more focused on governance and its relationship to perceptions of leadership. Over time, I was able to really focus on a particular aspect of leadership, dealing with whether organisations differ if they are directed by or focused on directing young people. I’m interested in the concepts of power, legitimacy and authority especially as it pertains to young people.
What motivated you to do a PhD and what were you doing before?
During my MSc at King’s, I was able to do a research assistant internship at Toynbee Hall. There, I learned that I really enjoyed the research process. The idea of continuing in research within academia was solidified during my MSc dissertation where I was supervised by Dr Susan Trenholm. I looked at the impact of the rise of managerialism in education on head teachers. After finishing my MSc, I left and worked in the third sector for two years before returning to King’s to pursue my PhD with Prof Ewan Ferlie.
What have you most enjoyed about your PhD?
I have most enjoyed the community within the PhD cohort. I have had amazing discussions with brilliant and passionate people who will be life-long friends. It has also been wonderful to re-join the community of the Public Service Management and Organisation group where there is a lovely group of academics.
What were some of the challenges of PhD research and how did you overcome them?
While I thought the PhD was something relatively plannable, life has thrown some major wrenches. My first research proposal became more difficult, and so I had to completely refocus between my first and second year. Next, COVID-19 happened. Many of my organisations faced unprecedented difficulties. I would say it’s important to stay grounded in reality. I connected with friends and family, but I also spent less time focusing on the existential terror of the viva and more time following what was happening in my organisations and being open to interesting possibilities.
What has/was your experience been transitioning from student to researcher?
I had already worked for a few years before coming back to do my PhD. That meant that the PhD has felt more like another job than a huge transition. The main difference across my previous work, being a student and being a doctoral researcher is that my schedule is completely mine. Some supervisors are hands-on whereas others adopt more of a mentorship role. I think it’s very important to consider the style of your supervisor when choosing a PhD. The first and second supervisor balance is also very important.
I am also doing my PhD part time as I work full time with Ewan on an EU Horizon 2020 project, which means I must be very careful about work-life-PhD balance.
Another interesting transition is that the relationship with the faculty changes – in many cases- to more collegial.
Why did you choose King’s Business School?
I chose to return to King’s to work with Ewan Ferlie as I had studied with him on the MSc in Public Policy Management and Organisation. I was interested in his research, and I knew the culture of the department. Those two aspects were very important to me. I wanted a place where I felt like there would be a strong community.
What do you like most about studying London? Has it provided you with more opportunities?
There are so many interesting parts of London to explore. I have lived in London for five years in every part of London excluding the West. Each area has its own distinct feel, which should definitely be taken into consideration if you are moving to London for the first time.
What are your career aspirations? How has your time at King’s Business School influenced your thinking?
King’s Business School has provided me a range of opportunities including teaching and being a research associate on a major EU project which has allowed me to understand what life in academia and/or research would entail. I have been able to see how groups and academia works and that will influence my next decisions about where I would like to research, lecture or do both!
What advice would you give to those looking to study for a PhD in your subject area?
I would suggest reaching out to PhDs on Twitter or via email. It’s important to be clear about why you chose them versus the myriads of other PhDs, but if they are studying something that you are interested in or have an idea about most would be very happy to have a chat. I’d definitely suggest you reach out if you would like to work with their supervisor.