Alice Palmer

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”.

Pulp and Paper Industry Transformation in the 21st Century: Exploring Evidence of Change
Dr. David Cohen

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!


Learn more about Alice's research

My research looks at how pulp and paper companies, particularly those that manufacture printing and writing paper, have been adapting to the structural changes in their business environment. My work will take place in three phases: 1. First, I am currently identifying and cataloging the activities that forty North American and northern European pulp and paper companies have been taking to adapt to their changing business environment. To do so, I have been conducting a content analysis of publicly available documents such as annual reports, web pages, and news releases. 2. Phase two of my research will be a short survey of company representatives. As the preliminary results of the content analysis phase have included both objective details (company activities) and subjective concepts (the strategic goals motivating the activities), the survey (a quantitative technique) will help me triangulate (double-check) my qualitative conclusions from phase 1. 3. Third, by examining the financial results of companies employing the different activities observed in phase one, I will evaluate some of the theoretical premises of a business turnaround model by Pretorius (2008).