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Aramide Ajayi is Director of Libba Capital Limited, Lagos, Nigeria, and a current student on the University of Liverpool online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme. She talks here about her experiences on the programme’s optional residency track.

What did you enjoy about taking part in the DBA residencies?

I enjoyed visiting Liverpool and meeting fellow doctoral students and tutors, making new friends and alliances and learning from the residency conference papers of my colleagues.

How have the residencies helped you progress in the online DBA programme?

The residencies deepened my understanding of research methodology approaches, and my conference research paper brought together concepts from virtually all the DBA modules.

How have the residencies supported you in preparing for your thesis?

Principally in the area of research methodology – understanding the approach I am most comfortable with; the approach that best addresses my research and what additional learning I have to undertake before embarking on the research proper.

Were there any surprises?

Yes, after Module 4 of the programme – Management Research – I never thought I would ever again have anything to do with narratives, phenomenology or ethnography! However, from the methodology training and one-on-one discussions during and after the face-to-face residencies, I realised that a phenomenological research was best suited to the selected topic and actually found myself understanding that particular research approach better. I also took the time to appreciate ethnography, which will be the methodology for my final research.

What did you research for your conference paper and why?

My residency conference paper was on ‘Employee Voice – Using Employee Feedback to Improve Corporate Performance’. This was a spin-off from a staff training assignment that I did for an organisation. I identified a number of problems including a weak employee feedback mechanism. This is an issue that is prevalent in the client’s industry where organisations claim to listen to employees but employees do not feel their opinions count.

My inspiration also came from one of the client’s employees who – unlike most of her colleagues –remained silent throughout my training sessions and focus groups and, sadly, died a few weeks later. Due to her ‘eternal silence’ on this side of time, I felt compelled to give voice to (what is becoming) a social and professional problem of organisations – the failure, refusal or neglect to listen to their employees.

I will be looking at this issue on a larger, deeper and wider scale for my final thesis.

What did you take away from conference at the end of the second residency?

I learnt a lot from the conference papers of my other colleagues. Regardless of their academic, mental, psychological and other positioning, there was something to take away from all the sessions attended – one of which is the importance of having a research supervisor who understands your research topic and/or methodology.

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