This month Marc Baumgartner (DBA Grenoble 2014) discusses the benefits of participating in an event hosted by the research team linked closest to his doctoral research topic. In late 2015 Marc came to Grenoble Ecole de Management and joined the in-house conference “The Business Model Days” at GEM.
By joining the Grenoble Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) Marc was looking for a new intellectual stimulus even though his professional life was already challenging as a CEO of a midsized Swiss entity. As he says, “being a practitioner, I was looking for a different mental challenge [and] … this was the starting point for me to enroll on the DBA program. Today, I am in the second year of the program and together with my supervisor, I have handed in the first conference paper to be presented at the EGOS conference in Naples 2016”. At Grenoble there is a strong emphasis on disseminating doctoral research both internally and externally. This benefits both the student, the program and the reputational impact for the business school.
However, the start of the DBA process was not so easy and both Marc and his supervisor. Professor Vincent Mangematin, had to establish a way to work and an understanding. He says that when he started in November 2014, “I was and I am still reading a lot about strategy, business models, rejuvenation of mature businesses, models and how people see the world. I thought, I would know my research question and how I would like to tackle the problem. But, I was wrong”. For any new supervisory team there is a phase of getting to know each other and understanding expectations.
Marc recognizes that “When I first got introduced to my supervisor I had to learn and accept that my way of solving problems and looking at the world was not the only one. We had intense discussions and you may believe me, I can be sometimes quite challenging and not so easy to handle, but my supervisor managed to keep me under control”. Perhaps surprisingly one of the key lessons was that one needs to have is “patience and control of your ego in order to take yourself beyond your boundaries”. Such a change of approach makes us receptive to feedback
Being open to feedback allowed Marc to benefit from closer links with a research team at Grenoble Ecole de Management. He values his experience at the Business Model Days. “It was very simple” he says “it was an in-house conference where professors, DBA or PhD students and other researchers presented their early stage papers or ideas and received feedback from their peers in their field or related fields of research”. In fact drawing upon his business experience, Marc compares it to “an experience-exchange group in business where others experience in regards to your challenge add content and widens your horizon, if you are open enough to receive it”.
Marc underlines the benefit of joining such an in-house event for himself and others. He points out that “for me and for everyone else is, that one has the chance to present, what one is doing and why it should be relevant for the academic and/or professional world. The audience listening to the presentations really interested in the problem, the findings, the approach and to bring the topic/presenter to the next level in his/her research.”
Such an experience left Marc ready for the next phase of his research. He said that “leaving the conference after two intense days, was like drinking 20 energy drinks a day. You are pumped up with new ideas and a lot of energy to continue your research”. At the heart of a good supervisory-student relationship and benefiting from a conference or symposium like Business Model Days is feedback and being open to it. It can hurt sometimes – for all of us, students and faculty – but colleagues share their input in order to improve our research.