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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!)

 

 

Free Building Defects Assessment

Having Problems with Defects in your Multi-Apartment Building? We are interested in hearing from you if you are in the following situation: -The building is a multi-story apartment building that is above three levels. -The building has been constructed in the last 10 to 15 years and is showing signs of multiple defects. -The building defects are substantial, potentially dangerous and could lead to structural or fire related issues. This could included the installation of Aluminium Composite Panel that is currently stable but a potential fire risk. And your relationship to the building is one or more of the following: -You represent a majority of the  building community ( e.g. body corporate committee member) -You are the building manager. -You are the body corporate manager -You are a lawyer representing a client or stakeholder related to the building -You are a builder or building professional who constructed the building. -You are a developer who developed the building. -You are an estate agent or financial intermediary representing the property developer of the building. -You represent a peak body related to the building or the situation. Help our Research Project: ‘The Defects Dilemma’ The high rise apartment building is in a state of crisis across the globe as a perceived safe form of accommodation for our families. Our own Australian tragedies and misadventures include (Bankstown 2012, La-Crosse Docklands 2014, Opal Tower Sydney 2018, Neo Melbourne 2019) and then there are the international cases like Grenfell (UK 2017) and the Torch Tower (Dubai 2017). The peace of mind of normal apartment owners is stretched to the limit. So how can you help solve this complex problem? Please help us bring peace of mind to apartment owners and  understand the nature and extent of the defects as part of our research project and we will ask you to fill in a short survey. Upon filling out the form below and the survey which we will send you we will provide a free assessment of your situation. The assessment will help you understand the causes of the defects from a systemic view i.e. how the property development and construction system that created your building has contributed to the defect levels you are experiencing. It is not a defects inspection. Learn More about how the historical decay in property development and building systems have contributed to the level of defects in high rise apartment buildings. Learn More about our research project called ‘The Defects Dilemma’. Register  for a place at our upcoming webinar series  which provides updates and industry engagement related to the ‘The Defects Dilemma’ Learn More about our Linked In Group called ‘The Property Development Doctor’ which is dedicated to bringing peace of mind to multi-storey apartment owners. Next Step: Fill out the form below and we will provide you with: a) the survey (your identity is anonymous and is used for research purposes). b) upon filling out the survey we will provide an initial free assessment of your situation as noted above. c) by filling out the form and sending it to us you acknowledge and agree with the waiver and conditions noted below.

Dr Jonathan Drane Optimum Search Pty Ltd Waiver: Any assessment is made by Optimum Search Pty Ltd and is an initial assessment only and does not include any site visits. The assessment does not cost you and there are no guarantees or warranties associated with the assessment. The assessment is based on our own research data and a survey that is issued by us and filled out by you.  The survey collects data on building defects that help with our research project and processes. Your identity remains anonymous.   The assessment is confidential and not to be issued by you to other parties nor relied upon for any legal, mediation or dispute processes. Optimum Search Pty Ltd reserves the right to not assess your situation at its discretion due to non relevance to the objectives of our research project. Any further requests for advisory services  are subject to a contract arrangement that is separate to this initial assessment and conducted by Optimum Search Pty Ltd.

-Think Like a Property Developer: How do Property Developers Think?

How Do Property Developers Think?

Book our next session on Eventbrite:

Book Here

Our cities are more and more reliant on private property developers, to create our new developments and cityscapes. Despite Local and State Environmental Plans, Zonings and Development Control Plans, our skylines continue to defy our planning regimes.

This topic is relevant to not only City Planners but Legislators, State and Local Authorities.

Find out from veteran property developer and researcher Dr Jonathan Drane who is not only an historian of the Property Development Industry but a researcher of City Growth Dynamics that rely on Property Development.

Book a seat at one of our introductory sessions

See our booking page.

This class is both for budding property developers but also city planners who are sometimes frustrated and bewildered by the forces of property development.

Dr Jonathan Drane