Once I completed my MBA in 2010, I decided to do a PhD. I had two main personal motives to make that decision:

First, I wanted to learn and advance my career in marketing by differentiating myself from peers and knowing more about the subject matter.

I believed that a PhD would help me make better marketing, better management and better informed business decisions. Since my early childhood, I have always been a competitive learner. I enjoyed the learning process itself and enjoyed being at the top of my class and felt bad when I wasn’t. I continued to have this notion in my professional life as well. I always wanted to compete, take credit for good work and get promoted. So, a PhD made sense to “me” from competition, learning and career development perspectives.

And yes, having my PhD was rewarding for my career as early as enrolling in the program, and continues to be today. While almost all marketing management job announcements do not require a Doctorate degree, having a PhD in progress made my applications sexier to employers in implicit ways. It conveyed a perception of expertise and perseverance that I began to notice during job interviews. Also, I was able to do my job in faster and smarter ways than before. Spending long hours on reading and writing, critical thinking and case analyses began to pay off in terms of time saving and quality improvement rewards in my daily activities. I started talking and presenting my new relevant knowledge to my peers, managers and CEOs who noticed progress. Having said that, my PhD did not make all my career dreams come true. I wasn’t that Owner or Co-Founder at that high-tech startup, that Vice President at that $15 million enterprise or that Regional Director at that global firm before the age of 40. My PhD did not hinder those dreams, but also, it did not help much to realize them.

If you are a competitive learner, you need to understand that having a Doctorate is a competitive advantage, but it also can drain your time in a way that reduces that competitiveness. So be ready to satisfy the degree’s extensive time demands while staying focused on your job’s time demands. Satisfying both fronts is extremely challenging and will affect your competitiveness in all other aspects of your life such as social, health and wellbeing… [to be continued]

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