Global Executive Ph.D.
Beyond the C-suite: Senior Executives Reflect on Their Global Executive Ph.D. Journey

It takes a unique kind of senior executive to pursue a Global Executive Ph.D. When you've reached the upper echelons of your career, leveraging your experience to produce research while maintaining your demanding professional life is both unexpected and inspiring.

For many participants of the programme, this choice is founded on the desire to make a contribution to academia and the business world that is greater than oneself, creating a positive influence in a given field.

In creating this programme, ESCP Executive Education believed that senior executives were uniquely placed to make a valuable contribution to knowledge creation and research thanks to their perspectives and professional trajectories. This belief has since been confirmed, and Global Executive Ph.D. participants have had their work published in the Harvard Business Review, LSE blog, Le Monde, Les Echos, as well as academic journals like Business Horizons. They've also participated in international symposia, colloquia, workshops, consortia, and conferences, where their voices and ideas have reached a wider audience.

To better understand what drives a senior executive to pursue the Global Executive Ph.D., participants shared their thoughts and motivations for joining the ESCP degree programme.

Diego Abellan MartinezDiego Abellan Martinez
2024 Cohort
Co-Founder at Outliers Investment

How is your Executive Ph.D. bridging the gap between the business and academic worlds?

In my professional career, I have to make decisions for complex financial deals, and it is not always easy to define the scenario with the best outcome which better aligns with the interest of the parties involved. Although literature in finance and economics has inspired and helped me to motivate business decisions, I have not always found a framework for unique transactions generated in a dynamic economic context. My interest in an academic and more rigorous answer led me to enrol in the Global Executive Ph.D. programme at ESCP Business School.

The ESCP Global Executive Ph.D. has equipped me with the necessary skills to transform ideas into well-defined research questions, incorporating a rigorous academic framework.

Leveraging advanced tools and techniques, I am able to analyse concise research questions. The engaging and rewarding discussions with my supervisor, Professor Pramuan Bunkanwanicha, have helped me to navigate the research process. His expertise in the field of study guides me, encouraging critical thinking and fostering my intellectual growth.

Definitively, the ESCP Global Executive Ph.D. bridges the gap between the world of businesses and academia by emphasising applied research and generating an impact on the business world.

Paméla Chin FooPaméla Chin Foo
2025 Cohort
Program Governance Lead, Digital Transformation at Hampton Management Consulting

What has been an interesting takeaway from this intellectual undertaking?

Undertaking ESCP’s Global Executive Ph.D. has been an intellectually stimulating and transformative experience, one which allowed me to blend my consulting work as a digital workplace strategist and program director with ongoing organisational research, and one which has brought me closer to my Ikigai - this elusive intersection of what I love, what I’m good at, what I can be paid for, and what the world needs.

Indeed, while I had previously perceived myself as somewhat detached from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, the doctoral journey has brought me to a unique sweet spot which enables me to contribute to the conversation in a deeply personal and meaningful way, with the hope of effecting positive change within organisations and society as a whole.

In doing so, one key takeaway of the programme has been the formation of scholarly relationships with my professors and classmates which provided a nurturing environment for intellectual growth and, through the sharing of new ideas and concepts, informed my exploration into the experience of minority professionals in the evolving landscape of the post-Covid workplace.

Through this endeavour, I have come to realise the immense potential of research, collaboration and advocacy, combined with practitioner experience, in driving organisational change and fostering better conversations about diversity and belonging. The Global Executive Ph.D. has not only expanded my knowledge and expertise but has also reinforced my commitment to creating positive change in the realm of the digital workplace and beyond.

Jean-Christophe NicaiseJean-Christophe Nicaise
2024 Cohort
Chief Audit Executive at EASA

What has been most rewarding about this intellectual undertaking?

Following the ESCP Global Executive Ph.D. programme has been the beginning of both a challenging and rewarding intellectual doctoral journey. Challenging because I had to discover a new “world” that is the research world with its own codes, language and practices. This journey also pushes boundaries between professional and personal life. But also highly rewarding as it creates a unique intellectual space to explore, discuss and present the outcome of your creativity and allows you to build a comfort zone around your academic topic. Moreover, I see the publication of my work in academic outlets as a token of achievement..

What impact do you hope your research will have in the world?

The subject of my research (i.e., organizational ambidexterity) is not per se related to a breakthrough topic such as artificial intelligence or blockchain for example. However, I hope that my humble contribution to the academic world will play a part in highlighting the sometimes-under-researched area of the public sector and its specific characteristics. Furthermore, in this programme, we are also in a unique research position, having a multifaceted role of being a researcher, a doctoral candidate and also a practitioner. That’s also where I think our impact is so special with the Global Executive Ph.D. programme.

Valéry-Antoine PlancadeValéry-Antoine Plancade
2024 Cohort
Chief Transformation Officer at BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions

What motivated you to pursue an Executive Ph.D. and focus on the question of sustainability in business?

I have always been convinced that academia was a great means to gain perspective, to create a vision and to share knowledge with peers. For these reasons, doing a Ph.D. has always been in the back of my mind since I graduated 25 years ago from ESCP Business School. But, at that time, I thought it was more important for me to first acquire professional experience.

And then, over time, I built my career up to becoming Chief Transformation Officer of BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions in France and being involved in the Circular Economy. This experience let me see first-hand how the Bank may impact the transition towards a more sustainable economy through the financing of its clients.

So, when I learnt about the ESCP Business School Global Executive Ph.D., it became evident to me that it was the next logical step so that I could reinforce my knowledge on sustainability topics, as well as build my own vision based on a mix of theory, methodology and challenges with peers. The objective was clearly to get a better understanding of the stakes for sustainability and possible responses. Furthermore, doing a Ph.D. creates opportunities to share this knowledge through teaching or conferences to develop people’s awareness of sustainability challenges.

In a nutshell, doing a Ph.D. on the topic of sustainability is my way to contribute to something I am passionate about. Combining a practitioner experience with an academic approach adds to the impact and credibility of my findings and allows me to link an operational CSR approach with a structured theoretical background.

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