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"The PhD program exceeded my expectations"

My PhD at UiA taught me how to conduct quality research. Not only publishing in the good journals but also maintaining integrity and ethics as a researcher.

Ziaul Haque Munim

PhD, specialization in International Business

Ziaul Haque Munil is from Bangladesh, and has completed a PhD with a specialization in International Business at the UiA School of Business and Law. He defended his thesis in 2018. 

"My research focus was on the maritime supply chain management. About 90% of international trade happens through maritime transport, of which approximately 33% is within the same corporation, and 66% is between different corporations. The existing international business literature focuses mostly on the internationalization process of corporations. Meanwhile, the maritime transport infrastructure is a prerequisite for international business.

In my research, I investigated ways to improve the quality of maritime transport infrastructure to facilitate international business and trade. I studied the relationship between efficiency and service quality of ports, cooperation strategies among ports to improve service quality and potential benefits from port cooperation when serving overlapping regions."

Why did you choose UiA?

"Although I started my PhD at UiA in 2015, I discovered UiA in 2010 when I was looking for universities abroad for master’s education. The main reason to do my PhD at UiA was the match between my expectations and the PhD program at the Business School of UiA. I was lucky to find a supervisor whose research interest was very much in line with mine.

To come to the world’s most livable country was a motivation to me, but also UiA and Norwegian universities in general offer excellent financial support and high work-life balance for PhD students. Last but not least, Southern Norway is known as the warmest and one of the most beautiful parts of Norway."

How was it to be a PhD candidate at UiA?

"Despite some peaks and valleys during the PhD process, I enjoyed every day as a PhD candidate at UiA. The canteen was a great place to socialize and meet others. Although each of us were working on different topics, we helped each other with research methods, shared conference or funding opportunities and became a small family at work.

It is very important to have a good relationship with your co-workers, as during the PhD process every candidate face many challenges, including criticism from the supervisor and peers to rejections from journals with harsh reviewer comments. I felt very relieved while sharing these troubles with my colleagues and realized that they were often in the same agony as me.

Professors other than my supervisor were encouraging and offered to involve me in projects other than my PhD. Those projects resulted in some very good spin-off journal publications in later years. Such a favorable working environment might not be available in countries other than Scandinavia. I am glad that I did my PhD at the UiA School of Business and Law, and it exceeded my expectations."

What do you think of the PhD program at the UiA School of business and law? And how were you followed up throughout the period?

"In my opinion, the PhD program at the School of Business and Law of UiA is state-of-the-art, well-structured and competent to world’s top PhD programs. Some candidate follows a three-year structure and some four-year with some additional responsibilities at the department, e.g. 25% teaching.

For each cohort, the PhD journey usually starts with a 3-4 days kick-off seminar with the program director and other professors. This seminar clears most of the queries and expectations of and from the candidates for the next three/four years.  

During the PhD tenure, each candidate is closely followed up by the program director and their respective supervisor. Candidates are highly encouraged to present their recent findings in the department’s PhD lunch seminars. This also helps to keep track of PhD progress. Additionally, candidates usually have one or two meetings with the head of the department to discuss their progress and other issues related to their PhD, e.g. mental health"

What is the most important experience you have made?

"My PhD at UiA taught me how to conduct quality research. Not only publishing in the good journals but also maintaining integrity and ethics as a researcher.   Despite being in a three-year program structure, I had the opportunity to teach and supervise students at the bachelor and master level. When applying for jobs after the PhD, all the potential employers appreciated this experience.  

In the third year of my PhD, I had the opportunity to be a visiting scholar at the Copenhagen Business School. It was a great experience being part of another PhD cohort there for a short period, and I got several research collaboration opportunities."

What career opportunities have you gotten after finishing the PhD? How has the PhD programme helped you network?

"Currently, I am working as Associate Professor of Maritime Logistics at the University of South-Eastern Norway. After the PhD, I had a few opportunities at universities within and outside Norway. But I wanted to stay in Norway, be in academia and, teach and research Maritime Supply Chain Management. My current position serves all the criteria.

However, with a PhD degree, one can work in both academia and industry. For those interested to work in industries, maybe R&D departments would be the most interesting. One can work at national research institutions, e.g. I was closely following the Norwegian Institute of Transport Economics. Also, it is possible to work on editorial/managerial positions at journal publishers like Elsevier or Springer.

As of my network, during the three years of PhD, I presented in six/seven large academic conferences. I also took PhD courses at universities outside of UiA such as Oslo, Oxford, Cambridge and Aalto. I had the opportunities to meet many of the top professors in my field. I have collaborated with some of them later and published journal articles."

Have you got any tips for other PhD candidates?

"I have many but will briefly summarize three, which I think are the most important:

  • Before you apply for the PhD, check out the profile of your potential supervisors in the university website and Google Scholar. To me, the two most important components for a successful PhD are — a good match with the supervisor’s research interest and the candidate’s passion for the PhD. It might be a good idea to contact a previous or existing PhD candidate in your potential supervisor’s team to know about the working environment in the team.   
  • As a PhD candidate at UiA, you will have access to great resources, including funds for conferences, courses, and being a visiting scholar. Utilize them wisely. UiA encourages PhD candidates to visit a foreign university as a visiting scholar for 2-3 months. Do not miss this opportunity.
  • Trust me, your future employers value suitability more than talent. Learn to work in teams by working with your colleagues and other professors at the department. Most institutions, be it in academia or industry, do not like those who are too smart to cooperate with others. Involve yourself in the institution’s social events. Present your working papers in lunch seminars. Participate in a grant application or organization of a conference. These extra miles will prepare you for your future endeavor better than anything else."