One Stirling go-getter has become a Doctor of Philosophy after balancing a part-time PhD with full-time employment in the University’s research office.
Fiona Millar became immersed in the world of research as she investigated how individuals working in creative and cultural industries manage their careers, while taking on a day job as a research funding officer.
The 29-year-old was supported through her PhD by a Stirling studentship and has spent a decade at the University undertaking undergraduate and postgraduate courses within Stirling Management School, as well as a research degree over five years.
Fiona said: “I’ve always had a thirst to know more and that’s what drove me to undertake my PhD. The University studentship was hugely rewarding and really helped me develop my employability skills. I had the opportunity to engage in a number of rewarding multi-disciplinary research projects and deliver teaching in the Management School.”
Born in Australia, Fiona grew up and now lives in Dunblane. It was her passion for performing arts that originally inspired her academic choices.
“During my high school education, the performing arts and Perth Youth Theatre were a big part of my extra curricular activities. While travelling in Australia in 2006, I decided to go to University and gain a degree that would open doors for me. During my Master’s I had the chance to research career motivations and carrying this on through my PhD was an exciting, desirable and interesting prospect.”
Winner of the Impact Prize at the 2015 Stirling Management School Conference, Fiona worked as a research administrator and research assistant during her studies and was involved in many prestigious creative industry research projects.
“I am incredibly proud of my ability to manage my studies and still throw myself into my new role. I struggled a lot with self-confidence during my studies but with the right support I was able to overcome this and balance my workload. Despite my self-doubt, passing my PhD with minor corrections was a really special moment”, Fiona continued.
“Working on my own PhD project whilst working in the research office at the same time allowed me to better understand the process of research and research funding. My job also helped me learn from best practice and encouraged me to continually review my writing and hone my skills. It was tricky to juggle everything so I had to be meticulous in how I planned my time, and the flexibility and support of the University was invaluable.”
Fiona will now continue to work with the research office to secure funding opportunities for researchers in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.
She added: “Leaving my student days behind, I’ll always think back on Stirling’s community feel, the friends and supporters I have made during my studies, and the affinity I have with the place - it feels like home. I'm grateful to continue my time here through my employment and be a part of the future ambition of the University.”
Sara McDermid, Deputy Director of Research and Enterprise at the University, said: “To complete a PhD and make a successful start in a new job is not easy, but Fiona has done it!
“Her positive approach and enthusiasm are, I believe, the keys to her success. I am proud that she is part of my team and delighted with the contribution that she is making to the University’s development, benefitting the graduates of tomorrow.”