Life before a PhD – Returning to Education after working

Banner for this interview regarding life before taking a PhD
Banner for this interview regarding life before taking a PhD
Life before taking a PhD, we caught up with Chris Bartley

We caught up recently with one of our help desk team here at campus Jobs – Chris Bartley who is a current PhD student in Henley Business School. Prior to coming to Reading for his PhD Chris completed an Undergraduate, Masters degree and has also held various roles with HSBC and British Airways.

So Chris…Tell us about yourself

I’m currently a second year Doctoral Researcher (PhD student) at Henley Business School researching organisational climates conducive to effective service recovery in exemplar service organisations. I’m on a three year career break from my job at British Airways where I work in Customer Experience. I work on the Campus Jobs team on a part-time basis which is really great.

Photo of Chris (interviewee) in his British Airways uniform
Picture of Chris Bartley at British Airways HQ

Why did you choose the University of Reading for your PhD?

Reading is a very vibrant city with great connections both within the UK and internationally. The Henley Business School has an amazing reputation, is very prestigious, and has world-class academics and facilities. The support available both at the application and course stages is outstanding, and I had such a positive experience when applying. Henley Business School offers scholarships so if you’d like to return to education but the financial implications limit you (like they did me) I would definitely recommend researching the support and opportunities available at Reading. As a PhD student there are also opportunities to supplement your income by working through campus jobs doing anything from exam invigilating to supervising dissertations or teaching workshops.

What was it like coming back to education?

I love it! This is my third round of uni and I clearly can’t get enough 🙂 Taking a PhD course is challenging but it’s a journey of personal development and you aren’t expected to start knowing everything. There are a lot of opportunities, both modules and short courses to upskill your areas for development before you embark on your thesis. The professors are amazing and will guide you every step of the way.

What did you do after graduating uni?

I was on the HSBC graduate scheme and working in the retail banking division which was really interesting. I was a support manager for the regional office and then a branch manager. I was made redundant from this position which allowed me to return to education to take my Master’s degree. I then obtained employment at British Airways in a very dynamic and interesting role in inflight customer experience.

What advice would you give someone looking to join a graduate scheme?

Really research the company and job role prior to applying and the assessment stage. Information is power and the more you understand the company, its mission and its values the more likely you are to be recruited. Definitely don’t send a generic covering letter and CV to many prospective employers, tailor it to the job and company you are applying to. I also believe it’s really important to manage your personal brand online and make sure that your LinkedIn and other social media highlights the best of you including your experience as well as qualifications. This may mean having a ‘clean up’ from your student days.

Look out for more tips and advice from Chris during the year on our social media 🙂