Dr John Mitchell came to Cass to study for his PhD. Today he is Managing Director of LHS Business Control. We asked him about his time at the Business School.
Why did you come to Cass?
I had completed an MBA at Middlesex and had commenced a part-time PhD on the thesis of using risk management techniques for audit planning purposes. Unfortunately, my supervisor left after less than a year and they had no-one else suitable. I already knew that CUBS (as it then was) ran an internal audit programme, because I was a visiting lecturer to it and I knew the team quite well, so I approached Professor Andrew Chambers who was departmental head and Dean to the school to ask if he was willing to supervise me. He was, so I transferred to CUBS.
What was your experience of studying at Cass?
Doing a PhD is a very different thing from studying for an MBA. It is very lonely life. The thing about a PhD is that within six months you know more than your supervisor, so what you require is encouragement from your supervisor. Fortunately for me, Dr Georges Selim had been delegated this task by Professor Chambers and as I knew Georges well from my visiting lecturer work I felt that the required back-up was there. I was spending at least 9 hours per week on my research, which was on top of a demanding day job. Fortunately, my day job, provided much input to my research, as I was Group Computer audit Manager at British Gas, and had a wide range of contacts throughout the world. British Gas paid my fees (which were quite modest) and also paid for my attendance at conferences. I was also active as a speaker on the international conference circuit and was able to meet many people to discuss my ideas. Basically it is up to the student to be self-motivated and to keep at it. I believe that only around 20% of people who start a PhD actually finish it. It would be interesting to know the Cass statistics.
What is your favourite memory from your time at Cass?
Having fun with the entire internal audit programme team, including the administrators and secretaries.
How did studying at Cass change your life?
I graduated in 1988 and receiving my PhD provided the impetus for me to set-up my own consultancy which I have run for the last 27 years. The software which I had developed to support my thesis provided a good income stream and the consultancy area grew on the back of it. Having a PhD provided the gravitas needed by a consultant.