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Ruth Sharpe

Institute for Development Policy and Management

Part-time HRM lecturer

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Tales from an HRM PhD – the final lessons


This is the fourth article in a four-part series from Ruth Sharpe, part-time lecturer and full-time PhD learner at the Institute for Development Policy and Management at Manchester University, on the trials and tribulations of undertaking a PhD in HRM.

My final PhD musings and thanks indeed to any sparse remnants of faithful legions that might have persisted with me through these recent HR Zone blogs.

For any coming new to this at this stage, I am a seasoned and weathered HR professional who moved into academia and who is now playing an epic academic career catch-up game (later in life) doing the monster that is the PhD.

Recent weeks have seen me moving through dismal, negative gloom in my blogs. But I have emerged. Maybe a tad weathered academically, conceptually limping but fighting on.

In my recent blogs I depict the many hurdles I have had to leap. Financial ruin, the supervisor/colleague debacle, the peer millennial minion threat. And certainly brick walls to climb. Epistemological underpinnings…enough said, we’ll leave it at that.  

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have much more to face. But a bright and sunny horizon is starting to emerge. So, should you consider doing something like this, here you go with some well-intended advice from an old HR pragmatist.

Facing deadlines, progression reviews and the dreaded ethics committee and wrestling Christmas in the midst, here goes.

Regarding pressing domestic elements, if it can’t be bought online, it’s out. It’s a pre-prepared, warm it in the oven culinary delight for us this year. For the first time ever, the tree is artificial. Perfectionism has no place at ‘Sharpey Towers’ this ‘holiday’. I apply that term loosely.

I will spend most of the ‘festive’ season facing write up to hopefully arrive next year academically victorious at deadline central. Otherwise labelled – “the progression review.”

I have to remember to breathe when I think of that. Stress doesn’t cut it. 

On the upside, wet soggy days can be spent trawling journals. Glass is half full coming through here.

Multi task too. Christmas HR networking socials can help you pin down your research sample.

Prosecco + People = Possibilities.

A good time here for me to offer a quick nod here to a few HR gurus who have been loyal and supportive allies in my cause. Thanks indeed.

Keep an eye on the real stuff. I am sorry to say – a sour, growling animal I have become. The husband is excusing himself, escaping to glide peaceful down the Alps. Who could blame him? It is the season of goodwill after all.

A (some say misguided) football follower of a Northern team, my commitment to ‘my’ lads has never wavered. No matter what. I emerge slightly skewed of vison though, using one eye to read and one eye to watch the match. Not ideal but priorities, priorities.

My best advice though is to literally grit your teeth. Don your psychological armour. Keep going no matter what. You persist and you overcome.  At the end of the day, it simply is about learning and adapting to the rules of the game. And in HR aren’t we are pros at that?

If you are a) a glutton for punishment, b) one of those nice, altruistic types or c) (probably massively unlikely) want to know more about my HR research – follow me on Twitter at @sharpeykenners.

Author Profile Picture
Ruth Sharpe

Part-time HRM lecturer

Read more from Ruth Sharpe

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