PhD students from International Business School Suzhou at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University were given the opportunity to present their research projects and receive feedback from their peers and academics at a one-day conference.

The PhD Day Conference was organised by Dr Victor Chang, Director of the PhD Programme at IBSS, and featured presentations from 22 students on various business studies-related topics such as corporate innovation, branding, and fiscal policies.

Students were required to present their research projects for 15-20 minutes each, and then field questions and receive feedback from an audience of academics and their fellow students.

Awards were given to the best presenters from each of the three divisions represented - Accounting and Finance, Management, and Economics.

In his opening speech, Adam Cross, Professor of International Business Studies and Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching at IBSS, expounded on the value of the day for PhD students:

“This is a good opportunity for you to practice your presentation skills, sell your research to an audience, and to persuade them of the importance of your research,” he told the students.

“It will enrich your CV, and allow you to further develop your research ideas by getting critical feedback in a friendly environment,” he said.

Having supervised several PhD projects to completion, Professor Cross had much useful advice to offer students at the conference. He impressed upon the students the importance of publishing ‘sooner rather than later’ so as to speed up the transition from being a student to an academic.

Professor Cross also advised students on how they can better interact with their PhD supervisors, suggesting that they make themselves aware of their supervisors' other responsibilities and take steps to manage their supervisors' time to ensure that they get the support they need.

Professor Michael Chng, Professor of Finance at IBSS, also offered his advice to students, suggesting ways for students to collaborate with multiple PhD supervisors and to allow for possible disagreements between them to inform and benefit their research.

PhD student Xue Bai (pictured above, right) received the award for Best Presenter in the Management division for her presentation about her project on technology adoption among older consumers in China.

“My project is specifically about online shopping, which has risen quickly in China. It makes people’s lives easier,” she said.

“I’m currently discussing with my supervisor [Adam Cross] about which particular area of online shopping to focus on, whether it be airline ticket booking or online clothes shopping.”

Xue Bai’s research was informed by an earlier XJTLU Summer Undergraduate Resarch Fellowship project on the adoption of healthcare technologies by older consumers supervised by Professor Florian Kohlbacher, who also supervised her research in its early stages.

Dr Treasa Kearney (pictured above), lecturer in marketing at the Management School at University of Liverpool, was visiting XJTLU as part of the Erasmus+ programme of staff mobility exchanges, and attended the presentations offering her feedback and suggestions.

She commented that she was particularly impressed with Xue Bai’s presentation, saying she found her research area interesting and that the work was ‘very well presented’.

Dr Victor Chang (pictured below), whose area of expertise is Data Science, spoke about the challenges of completing a PhD and why he set up the conference.

“Completing a PhD is not an easy process, and students invest three to four years of their lives in doing so,” said Dr Chang.

“First, they must understand the existing problems in their field and carefully select appropriate methodologies. Then, they have to spend months or even years to get results, and must fully justify their research contributions,” he said.

“I established this conference to offer greater support to our PhD students and to give them more experience in presenting their work and taking feedback.”

Students Chen Wang and Zhe Yuan, who received the Best Presenter awards for the Accounting and Finance and Economics divisions respectively, gave their comments on the conference and on PhD study at XJTLU.

“There are great facilities here,” said Chen, “And the fact that we have supervisors here at XJTLU and at the University of Liverpool is really beneficial.”

“At XJTLU we have been building our presentation skills since undergraduate level, so making my presentation today didn’t faze me,” said Zhe. “However, taking questions and responding to feedback is still quite intimidating, and I appreciate the opportunity to practice that."

International Business School Suzhou at XJTLU enables students to specialise in a range of areas related to economics, management, and accounting and finance. After completing PhDs in business studies, students go on to pursue careers in academia, or work for business consultancies or in other sectors.

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