Climbing the learning ladder

Though you might come to Heriot-Watt as an undergrad, the journey doesn’t have to stop there. Several of our undergrad and masters students go on to further study or research with the University, and even begin a career here!

Gordon Jack is currently working within the Pre-Sessional English Admissions team in SoSS. Indeed, he is no stranger to the university, having studied at undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD level here.

Gordon joined Heriot-Watt to study Building Surveying in 2008, and after a period of working in retail, he returned to what was then the School of Management and Languages to undertake postgraduate study in Strategic Project Management. Gordon chose Heriot-Watt because, as well as liking the facilities at the Edinburgh campus, it offered him the opportunity to branch out away from home in Glasgow, but still be in easy travelling distance of family and friends.

During his Masters study, an opportunity came up to apply for a PhD scholarship in the School and he was encouraged to go for it. He said: “The scholarship opportunities at Heriot-Watt are appealing. There’s also a nice level of flexibility to PhDs here – you can set your own schedule and have relative free rein of your research project, but with excellent supervision, so you know you will be kept on the right path.”
Supervised by Head of School, Robert MacIntosh, Gordon’s PhD research was on “Exploring Leadership in Low Authority Environments”, which has involved interviewing academics and local politicians to learn more about leadership in those contexts.

He expresses pride in the drive he’s had to maintain in order to finish his PhD, as well as completing an internship with the Scottish Sentencing Council, organised by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science. This great opportunity gave him the chance to use existing skills and experience developed by volunteering with children and young people, alongside honing his research skills running focus groups looking at public perception of young offenders. He advises PhD researchers to make the most of these opportunities to bring variety and fresh thinking to their work. “We know that research isn’t a 9-5 job. You can get engrossed in academia and it can be exhausting, which you don’t really appreciate until you’re in the process, so it’s important to take the opportunity to do different things.”

While many PhD students decide to continue into a career in academia, Gordon is still considering his future options and how best to utilise the skills he has developed during his PhD and his time with Heriot-Watt.

Find out more about our postgraduate Business Management programmes and start your journey with Heriot-Watt!

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