For one local businessman, successfully completing his PhD did not only open the doors to new academic discoveries, but also helped to turbo-charge professional success.
Dr Rob Milford studied for a PhD in Business at Worcester, which focused on solutions to a gap he had spotted in the support for those running shared services across local councils. At the time he started his research, Rob was leading and managing a shared service within local government. A shared services arrangement is in essence where two or more local authorities work together to commission and/or deliver a service for the purposes of improving that service. For example, rather than six councils all having their own payroll service, they bring them together and each council ‘shares’ the service. This creates the potential benefit of saving costs, increasing resilience and sustainability, and hopefully improving quality.
“In my old job I found that there was no specific professional or academic support to cover the nature of the work I was doing, leading and managing a shared service,” Rob said. “There was no guidance for a manager on how to lead these quasi-externalised organisation constructs. So the PhD research was to answer my personal and work questions, plus plug a large gap in academic literature.”
“I wanted to help develop management/leadership tools and techniques to ensure they are sustainable and continue to help protect the public purse,” he added.
Fitting in a PhD part-time around his existing professional commitments across eight years presented a considerable challenge for Rob, but the results are hugely positive, both in terms of his own professional development and in terms of the impact his work has had on the world of shared services.
“My research has now been converted to a professionally accredited training programme and a national assessment scheme for shared services,” he said. “And I am now running a successful company dedicated to shared services, governance and leadership training. My company was shortlisted for Most Innovative Business in the Enterprising Worcestershire Awards 2019 Awards.”
During his PhD, Rob lost his mother and several close colleagues, as well as setting up his own business, the first few years of which are always challenging in themselves. The eight years saw their fair share of trials and triumphs, but, with graduation, Rob can reflect on his achievements.
“It’s the end of a very long road, and something I am really going to make the most of with a family and friends party.”
And Rob’s passion for academia remains undimmed, with the possibility of returning to study for a Law degree very much a part of his future plans.
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