Alice Palmer was a participant in the 2017 UBC Three Minute Thesis competition, with her presentation, “Bankrupt or Biofuture? Strategic Change in the Pulp and Paper Industry”.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I had been toying with the idea of doing a PhD for a long time - over a decade, actually. Finally, the voice in my ear saying "I really want to do this" overwhelmed the voice making excuses not to. Doing a PhD may not actually find me a better job - but if I don't try it, I will never know.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I study the field of forest products business management, and UBC is one of a very small group of universities that have programs that address this. My supervisor, Dr. Dave Cohen, was doing work on forest industry business transformation and I found his big-picture approach intriguing. Furthermore, I was already living and working in Vancouver, so studying at UBC enabled me to continue consulting on a part-time basis.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?
I have been working in the forest industry for 20 years - this has been both a benefit and a curse to me, as I have had to relearn how to communicate like an academic.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
Anything outdoors (as per most forestry students). Also, I play French horn in a couple of community bands.
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
Find out how your faculty, department, and/or graduate student association communicates (emails, posters, social media etc.) and stay up-to-date! In our faculty (forestry) we get a weekly e-mail of info about events, scholarships, job opportunities, free stuff, and important reminders. Don't miss out!
What does reaching graduation mean to you?
Graduation means a change of focus. Before defending my PhD and making the final revisions to my dissertation, I put all of my energy into just getting done. That was in December. Since then, I have had to find new things to focus on, such as my health (fixed now), family responsibilities, short term job (postdoc?) possibilities, and long-term career goals.
Looking back over the past several years, what will you miss most of your PhD journey?
I will really miss the camaraderie. As grad students, sharing similar joys and struggles, we all supported one another.
You are graduating in a difficult time. What gives you comfort or hope looking into the future?
This is not the first time I have been out of work in a recession. I survived it the last time (2009), and I'll survive it this time. My own experiences with cyclical layoffs have motivated me to study cyclicality as a factor influencing corporate turnaround strategies. It is a topic largely ignored by the extant business management literature, so I hope to make it part of my life's work. I'll get there eventually. One step at a time.