Category Archives: Post graduate coach- mentor

Later life PHD- harnessing your industry experience, smarts and life’s passion

 

Should you undertake a PHD after many years in industry:  why, when and how?

My colleagues of many years are intrigued by my choice to undertake a PHD late in life. Some see it as inexplicable, some as madness and perhaps they are right on both counts. But I also know it was always in my wiring and something I had to do and my doctorate was created inadvertently and subconsciously over many, many years… decades in fact.

For those who are contemplating a thesis progression path through honours, masters and then PHD, this might be of interest and here is how my journey ended up like this..

I completed my PHD at UNSW Built Environment in 2015 at the tender age of 60 on the property development mechanism and its part in the growth of cities.  My passion and 35 year industry experience was for high rise buildings and their dominance of the city skyline. I started gazing at them as a young construction cadet with some awe and wonder at the also tender age of 18 with a site visit to the construction of the MLC Tower ( Sydney CBD) being built by Civil and Civic/Lend Lease in the early 1970s. Mystified by the experience, I  eventually started to actually write about this in my first thesis as an MBA student at MGSM in 1992 at the age of 37 as I was becoming a  young father of a small family.

My topic morphed  from there over many years into ‘City Growth & Development Dynamics’ and in particular how dead (dormant) city areas are brought to life. This occurred strangely by accident along the way for I had precipitated a property development in Townsville which was ‘planted’ in the semi-dormant city street of Palmer Street and became what I found was a catalyst project for the resurrection of  the precinct .

This dormancy theme and the high rise love from earlier in my life resulted in two research projects during a period as  lecturer at Western Sydney University in 2016 at the age of 61 and that was ‘The State of Contemporary Property Development Structures‘ and ‘The Outer West Dormancy ( Sydney Basin) Research Project‘ . ( See City Whisperer Banner above ). The latter obtained a seed grant and then an ECR Fellowship ( Early Career) grant. I got a kick out of that label.

I am now creating a Night Economy Research Initiative after being invited to chair the ANZ Night Time Economy Forum in June 2019 at the age of 64 and as a follow on from the prior research and its emphasis on precinct activation.

While all this occurred and to put bread on the table I created a research and advisory consulting group called Optimum Search in 1993 at the age of 38 fresh and naive from my MBA and have kept the doors open since that day despite some quiet times and some employment interruptions. This vessel is my career/business life blood and life boat and it has its ups and downs but it is the vehicle I always return to. I am even told by recent events that I am part of the Gig Economy which gives me a renewed sense of place.

I was inspired to create this life boat by many writers and industry role models but none more so than Antony Jay and his book  ‘Corporation Man‘. Antony is known more in the mainstream as the creator of the BBC series ‘Yes Minister’. However Antony’s key message was to divide the institution into two sectors The Hunt and The Camp which drew on a primal theme.To hunt was to bring business into the group and the camp provided the administrative  organisation that delivered the product or service.

Extending this to an agile existence now in the modern era has some relevance it would seem, so to divide your career/business existence into two parts and parallel paths might be a good strategy given the rising transience of work, the ‘under employment’ and gig economy and the digital divide that places people with digital smarts into a new elite and even dare I say a rising intellectual aristocracy.

Why am I telling you this? Because:

We are living longer to 80 and 90 years of age so I may have 30 years to live which is both exciting and daunting. Meanwhile at the ANZ forum a statistic was noted that the work force held only 4% of people 64 years and older ! I have felt this tide for many years now and all the more reason for my creation of a life boat in the form of a company vehicle that morphed and changed over a quarter of a century from advisory to research to entrepreneurship and back again as the tides came in and out in different zones both geographical and sectorial.

So how do you deal with this twilight zone in your life or is it too far away to think about. If you are enjoying life and your career and creating families, I know one thing. Time is fleeting so it might help to give this era a thought every now and then.

If you need mentoring on your thesis and doctoral path please feel free to contact me or Learn More

Dr Jonathan Drane ( circa age 60!)

 

 

Dr Drane’s Greenshoots Update

Dr Jonathan Drane: Greenshoot News Update

Regional City Growth Dynamics: A Research Focus

I have recently left academia after 6 years at both UNSW Built Environment and then Western Sydney University’s School of Business. I am returning to my prior independent research and advisory profile which I have operated through Greenshoot Investments since 1993 which will aim to grow into a research and teaching centre in its own right as time goes by.

The Outer West Dormancy and Growth Dynamics Research Project which started during my MBA at MGSM in the 1990s then through my doctorate at UNSW and continued in my time with WSU will continue, and I will be seeking funding, sponsorship and collaborations. But early days.

See my research page which pays tribute to MGSM, UNSW and WSU where the dormancy research found its genesis, grew and now matures as time goes by.

For More Information : http://www.jondrane.net/research/

The Parlous State of Contemporary Property Development 

The Property Development Industry in the commercial multi-apartment sector is plagued by the advent of DIY developers who clearly did not get the memo related to quality and integrity through the application of professional practices. When this resulted in two girls having to jump off a balcony to escape a fire and the death of one of those girls ( Bankstown 2012)  , the industry finally said no.

This research found its genesis through my chronicling of the degeneration of professional property development practices while at UNSW City Futures where I was invited to write a conference article and speak on what I thought was the boring subject of defects. To my surprise, the audience was lit up by the talk and paper, because it brought to life the decay of property development professional structures over several decades.

A simple article grew into an invited appearance at the National Building Regulatory Summit in February 2018 where I found myself an accidental historian of the industry. There I chronicled the decay in development structures across finance, design, construction and statute, an integrated view previously unseen.

For More Information: http://www.jondrane.net/research/the-state-of-contemporary-property-development-structures/

Property Development Master Classes: ‘Work Ready’ and ‘Street Wise’

The universities continue to attempt to steer coursework and offerings toward an ‘industry ready’ framework and for students to be more ‘fit for purpose’.

With this in mind, I am offering a number of  online webinars for College and University students (undergrad and postgrad), which are designed to supplement their current College and University studies and help their career aspirations to come to life in the complex and exciting world of commercial property development.

The Master Classes are designed to provide  real life skills and street smart tools to get students on the road to success. Whether they want to  follow a career employed in property development and/or become a property developer in their own right.

The first master class is in three sessions in early November. You can learn more or book a seat here:

Book Here

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/dr-dranes-master-class-becoming-a-street-smart-property-developer-tickets-51576187766

Thank You Academia

I have spent a lifetime in the commercial property development and construction industry and been a property developer in my own right. Over those years I have mentored executives and managers and lectured to hundreds of students across four academic institutions including Sydney University, UNSW, WSU and ICMS. I am also an alumni of UNSW and MGSM.

I have loved working with the students and teaching is in my wiring. Being a creature of the wilderness and not the citadel, I now stand on the outside looking upward at these past institutions, my teachers and colleagues. Thank you for helping to get here. I look forward to working alongside some of my past colleagues toward issues heralded in the initiatives above.

Sincerely

Jon

Dr Jonathan Drane

Director Greenshoot Investments

and Optimum Search est 1993

www.jondrane.net

 

 

The Literature Map: Organising your literature search

Dr Jonathan Drane

Whether you are writing a university assignment, undertaking a masters thesis or doctorate , you will be familiar with the overwhelming feeling of data overload from all the sources you will gather in the initial literature review phase. How do you make sense of these articles and papers which all have some common thread to your topic. They must have a common thread right? Because you collected the article and put it in a folder or some place. So one way of sorting all this out is to create a literature map. It works a little like your desktop on your PC.

Look at your desktop now and see how you have spread the icons over the desktop . Each icon has a meaning ( an app, a file, a note, an image etc) and you probably place similar things together. This is how a literature map works. To get started why dont you clear your desktop for now with a clear space and then start creating small one line files and saving them to the desktop. e.g. write the title of one of your books you collected e.g. ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and then on the next line type the author ‘Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’. Now save the note to desktop. It will come up with the title and an icon on your desktop. Now do this for more of your articles/books, it will not take long.

Then start moving them around so similar  are in one place. With either windows or mac you can give these icons a different appearance or colour depending on a theme within the article or book. A theme from the Communist Manifesto is ‘oppression of the capitalist system’ . Now step back and have a look at all these and see if you have learned something.

Below is an example of a literature map used in a doctoral situation (Dr Jonathan Drane 2015)

Lit Map 2 edn1

Want to learn more about literature mapping

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Need a doctoral mentor-coach. Attend a coaching workshop run by Dr Jonathan Drane . Or arrange a group- minimum 10 students.

Read more

Read this article as pdf:

lm1-literature-mapping