PhD JJourney Part 1 – Why PhD? and Why Marketing?

This post aims to give some of my personal opinion about why one should get his or her PhD degree and how this would enhance the personality and skill/knowledge in a broader way. It is not about just to get the degree, PhD is a journey that is absolutely worthwhile at the end.

Searching on Google, I also found not much information about someone’s experiences when they started and finished their PhD in Marketing. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the notion of getting a PhD [for Asian students, as far as I know] is more about science or engineering majors. It could be a generalisation, but Asian students have better skills in terms of leaning maths and doing those kinds of degrees. In Business, a lot of my schoolmates decide to study Accounting & Finance (about 70%, the rest doing Marketing, Management, Economics, etc.) just because they find it hard to write essays even though they acknowledge that Marketing is interesting. Why can’t we have more Asian students studying Marketing? Why can’t we get over the fear of writing essays or reports? I hope to encourage any of you who have some interests in Marketing will follow your dreams. Please, DO NOT study the degree that you don’t like because your parents say so, DO NOT do whatever makes you not comfortable with.

Writing this blog, I am at the stage  that I am just at the very beginning of my PhD journey. I just commenced my program a month ago and still have a lot to learn, and many challenges to get through. I may tell you a bit of the long story that how I can make it to do the PhD and what kinds of problems that you’re expected to face since the moment that you decide to follow your dream.

Part 1 – Why PhD? and Why Marketing?

Part 2 – When did I decide to do my PhD?

Part 3 – The biggest disappointment of myself [upcoming]

Part 4 – Getting over the first few challenges [upcoming]

Part 5 – More exciting stuff on the go [upcoming]

So I guess it doesn’t make sense to read about someone’s PhD journey  if you don’t know why he wants to get the PhD at the first place. In this first part, I just want to share some of my opinions of why I want to get the PhD, especially in Marketing because many people think this is a very practical degree [and you should get some work experiences first]


  • It is the next step after I finished my Honours degree. I had some research experiences and I find it interesting to emerge myself with the literature and find out the answer for the research question that I asked. Isn’t it amazing to do what you really want to find out, rather than having a boss and always tell you what you have to do?
  • It is not a normal degree like bachelor or master by coursework. It is a long project (at least for 3-4 years) to finish and I am the only person responsible for it. Throughout this journey, I have to learn to be patient, and get stronger to face with stress and depressions, sometimes, if not, all the time
  • To expand the network with great academics and other PhD candidates, and learn from them. They all come from different walks of life. In fact, I am the only one that go straight to PhD after Honours. In the cohort of this year, we have someone working as a consultant for more than 25 years, someone originally from Bangladesh and living in Japan for 15 years before starting his PhD at University of Sydney, someone is a lecturer. This network of intellectual people is also a great resource for me to learn from them, and share the knowledge.
  • To extend the stay in Australia and hence, have opportunities to experiences different things
  • To grow up as a mature individual

WHY Marketing?

  • Marketing is getting more attention, not because it’s more important. It is because how many people realise its importance.
  • Marketing involves different aspects of a business. Understanding marketing is to connect different departments of an organisation, to understand the flow from input to output, to deliver customer’s satisfaction, etc. and these are a key to lead to success
  • I love marketing because it not only fits my outgoing personality, but to help more people realise ‘value’. It is to help customers realise the value for what they paid. It is to help employees realise the value for what they believe. It is to help the management realise the value for their investment
  • Marketing is common sense, but you need to be a lot more critical and have exposures to make sense of those common senses. I think, the overall goal of education at tertiary level is to practice those critical thinking skills (i.e. verbally, not just quantitatively).

WHY PhD in Marketing?

  • Simply because I learn what I love, and I learn what skills that I’m lacking. I may already have (even though not too much) some business skills during my part-time work. Getting the PhD now is the opportunity that I have to catch to further equip myself before really draw a carefully line for my career pathways (civil servant, entrepreneur, or consultant, etc.)
  • I don’t care if people say Marketing is a practical degree and you need to work rather than doing research. There is always a piece of cake for everyone. I feel comfortably to combine the research knowledge and critical thinking skills with my business work/tasks later on
  • The more Asian students learning about maths, science, engineering, etc. and those kind of degree, the more lacking and unbalance that we have. I want to (hopefully) share my knowledge and passion to younger generations. Isn’t it a pity to know that 70% (if not more) Asian students study Business only major in Accounting and Finance. That proportion for master coursework degrees in Business is even more, with the dominance of Chinese students. Anyway, my point is, I hope to have more Asian students that have interests in Marketing, and follow it as their career choice

I hope to find the time to write Part 2 soon – When did I decide to do my PhD? 

Stay tuned 🙂


15 thoughts on “PhD JJourney Part 1 – Why PhD? and Why Marketing?

  1. Ive just passed by and read your blog thou. interesting one! agree with most of what what you mentioned there.

    Just have a little concern abour reasons you chose to do phD that you can go find out what you really want rather than doing whatever the boss says.

    It however bears in my mind a slightly different view. I would give opinion on the basis of going back home after having a phD

    Well, what do we think of doing after? Most of phDs i believe end up with being lecturers, agency consultants, government advisors, or starting up their own business. It depends of each one’s goals, visions, dreams, so on and so for but i believe the first three options are relatively stable so its great to get a phD to secure a good spot there.

    The last option of starting a business, i personally value the real-life experiences cause i think it is unique. Professional competence is essential but every working environment requires different sets of skills to be successful and to achieve each one’s objectives. So that requires ‘face-learn-adapt’ factor.

    A phD takes approximately 3.5-4 years in general. How old are we at that time to still be a risk-taker especially in the environment with high level of uncertainty? Most phDs get their degree done after 27 year-old (fasterst one would be 27). We would have to go work somewhere later on to get to know more about the working environment, understand the people, and expand our network.

    So we’re all 30 or more at that time right?. Are we certain that we still psychologically have enough courage and passion to take risks at the age that supposes to be having a family around though? (Im not saying that everyone is like that but the majority)

    In the case of having our own business, A bachelor or master with many years of experiences or a phD with a few, so what do we stand for? which option will outweigh the other?

    I believe every business we make is a ‘real-life’ phD thesis. The only reason i would do a phD at the university is to enhace my social status.

    By the way, how are you going with your thesis over there? look forward to hanging out coffee with you in Melbourne bro 😀


    1. At the end of the day, life isn’t stable and what you have done/study might not be what you end up doing to earn the living. But, the point I made was to follow the dreams rather than being forced by parents 🙂

      I tend to agree with you that the set of skills for being an entrepreneur might not be the same with other careers like government advisor, lecturer, researcher. One can do different jobs throughout his career life, and can always move from a government officer to become a lecturer, But one cannot always find the time to study what he really wants. The older they get, the harder to balance between work/study/(and/or family). So, my initial point was to make a statement that I would like to get the PhD while I’m still young, wild, and free 😀

      Personality may have correlations with age, but it doesn’t mean age cause risk-averse personality. If someone is a true entrepreneur, he will not mind taking risks. Because you come from a small town, that won’t hold you back to become a big person in the future? 🙂

      Re: master with many years of experiences vs. a PhD with a few? What is the period of comparison? A fresh PhD graduate might not have much experiences compared to an old master graduate, but that might not be true in the long term. A fresh PhD graduate can always accelerate

      I don’t agree with the reason of doing a PhD to enhance the social status. It might hold true to a certain extent, with a certain environment. But it’s not the motivation to help one finish his PhD journey

      Đợt trước em về Melbourne mà gấp quá, next time anh hĩ, hay là bữa nào anh mò lên Sydney đi, kaka


      1. haha interesting, mình cứ nghĩ bạn la Asia nhưng k phải Việt Nam. Mình cũng đang có ý định học PhD ở Mỹ, có gì trao đổi chia sẻ kinh nghiệm nhé!


  2. I was amazed when doing my undergrads at how many Chinese students come to the UK to study Business Administration (usually MBAs). Similarly, in the UK, the bulk of students from India come to study some form of engineering.

    It’s impossible to know the reasons why certain fields of study are so popular with students from certain places. But then, I’ve always had the impression that it has something to do with the position of the home economies – i.e. what’s happening in the economy of their home country. Obviously China’s economy has gained a lot of speed in recent years, especially in all types of business, manufacturing, exports etc. And India has really boomed in the engineering department – many of those engineers have gone on to migrate to other countries and build successful careers. Good for them – but I do think the state of a country’s economy can have an influence on what its students choose to study.

    Another thing I want to say: PhD students who have come straight from BSc/BA degrees without doing their Masters or work experience are usually in the minority (I’m in that minority too!). There’s certainly a positive side to that – e.g. learning from others with more experience, from different walks of life, etc. But at the same time, at least in my experience, there can sometimes be a bit of patronising on the part of ‘older’ and ‘wiser’ PhD students. I often get teased (affectionately, but still teased) by colleagues for being so ‘young’ and not having experienced much in life yet. I can laugh it off, but it’s still hard being in a minority where you’re young and ‘green’ and everyone else is older, maybe married and with a family and their own house, and there’s a constant feeling of not being good enough to measure up to them!


    1. Hmm, so is it a problem that almost all Chinese students go overseas to study Business Administration (I would argue that they mainly study Accounting and Finance), and almost all Indian students go overseas to study Engineering? If the reason of the country’s economic stage influences the choice of study, I will still go against that. The problem of exceeding supply is one thing, the issue of not doing the degree that they have interests should be concerned too

      Haha, so I guess I also belong to the minority group like yours. Our disadvantage is not to have much life experiences, but our main advantage is to be young, less commitments and always have time. Or maybe the ‘older’ or ‘mature’ students tend to be more conservative and find it harder to accept new things?


      1. I didn’t mean their choices are a ‘problem’ as such – just that different students’ ways of choosing what to study can vary from culture to culture. Some students (perhaps like us?) would be inclined to study something because it just makes them happy and they like it (which is great); while others from different cultures might feel they need to think about whether the course will make them more employable, whether they can get a better salary, what they can do with that salary, and how they could make use of their degree back in their home country. It could be a complex decision process for some people.

        For people who come from financially struggling families/backgrounds, studying a course to ensure financial stability in the future could preclude studying a course for interest or pleasure – as in Maslow’s hierarchy. If we are studying what we love today, that’s a privilege that some other students don’t necessarily have.


  3. Interesting article. I am also considering a PhD in Marketing, and I think it’s crazy more people don’t study marketing. It is function that involves the whole business, so I think more people should actually major in marketing, and not just management etc. I too am considering going onto a PhD almost straight after doing Honours, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, though I know others do.

    I recently wrote an article about my PhD decision which is to PhD or not to PhD which I think others may also find useful:


  4. Hi JJourneys,
    I accidentally came to your blog because of your Banh Bot Loc’s post 🙂 and later on I found out that you did a PhD right after getting bachelor degree. I’m wondering that why didn’t you choose a Master by research course, but PhD one? I’m doing master by coursework in Melbourne and thinking of doing a research in a master course or PhD one. Looking forward to your advice.


    1. Hi Julian,
      I completed my PhD in Marketing last year (hooray!!) but haven’t actually spent much time updating this blog 😦 I didn’t do MPhil because my Honours degree could get me straight into the PhD program. This helped save a bit of time. I always know that I want to do a PhD and so I don’t want to waste time doing the MPhil and then doing a PhD, I think the requirements have changed a little bit. Universities only accept PhD applications if the candidates have some evidence in doing research (e.g., publications or master/honours theses). Otherwise, the candidates have to start with an MPhil and then upgrade to the PhD in a proposal defence within a year of their enrolment. Good luck!


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