How to get a PhD at Salford Business School – Dr. Alaa Garad

Becoming a distinguished professor, adding value to my students, family and community – this has always been my dream. This is now a reality, thanks to the wonderful support  I received from Salford Business School. I began my PhD journey in 2006. My research was in Organizational Learning under the supervision of Dr. Sudi Sharifi, a distinguished academic and mentor.

For me, the University of Salford was an excellent choice because it offered high-quality research opportunities, links to industry and a global student base. While Salford was a convenient location, I was still working at the time and there was tremendous pressure to focus on both my research and my job concurrently.

Those challenges brought out the best in me; I analysed the process of scientific research and determined that it was possible to ‘unlearn’ and ‘re-learn’ ideas through systemic thinking.

In a little over four years, I was awarded a PhD in Organizational Learning and Excellence. Prior to that I was appointed as an Assistant Professor at University of Wollongong in Dubai and then as Senior Lecturer at the University of Middlesex Dubai.

Today I lead and advise several organisations across the UAE and MENA Region. I also have put theory into practice through establishing my own start-up in Abu-Dhabi. Yet, I supervise PhD students as a local advisor.

If you are embarking on your journey, here is my advice to you how to get a PhD:

  • Have a dream – a grand vision of your future and work towards your vision.
  • PhD is a massive undertaking and it can often be painful; in order to overcome these challenges and enjoy the journey, be a ‘reflective practitioner’ open to learning and let go of your ego and bias.
  • When you choose a topic for your PhD, select one that adds to your knowledge and practice.
  • Think of your PhD thesis this way: will you be proud of it and keen to show your work to everyone or would you rather hide it and avoid discussions related to your research?
  • Be brave and a trailblazer – explore areas that no one has explored before.
  • You cannot love your research journey if you do not have passion for research and learning.
  • The research journey is the ‘process’ and the ‘product’ at the same time; so enjoy every station in this journey.
  • Consider it a driver for change in your life, adopt the principles of scientific approach in your actions and embrace systems thinking.
  • Remember that the only sustainable competitive advantage an organization or individual can have is learning. So, be calm and continue to learn.
  • Always be positive and never lose faith.

I attribute my professional success to the invaluable support I received from my supervisory team at Salford and from everyone at the University. The relationships I have built have proved pivotal in my success today.

If an ordinary daydreamer boy from a small Egyptian village can do it, so  can you!

  • If you would like to achieve the dream of PhD study, find out how here.
  • If you are a Salford Business School alumni or would like to share a story, please get in touch.
  • You can see Dr. Garad speaking more about Learning to Unlearn in the TedX video below or connect with him using the details below.

Dr. Alaa Garad, EFQM, IIP, PhD

HR Business Partner & Excellence Adviser
Chair/Advisory Board – University of Salford in GCC
Chairman – Organisational Learning  Conference MENA
Chief Executive – Investors in People UAE
Chief Executive – International Performance Excellence
Columnist at Gulf News and Emarat Al Youm
Twitter: @Alaa_Garad