Finishing an Executive PhD program in four years is feasible, but definitely challenging. No wonder, since combining a full-time job with a high-level research program is not a walk in the park. But then along comes Nermain. She not only managed to obtain her PhD degree in time, but she even managed to obtain it in less than three years. And all this while working as a Senior Lecturer at the American University of the Middle East (AUM) in Kuwait. A phenomenal track record, to say the least. And of course, we want to know all about Nermain and the why, how, and what of her remarkable journey.
So why did you embark on this journey with AMS?
As a person who always aims for the best and who does not easily accept compromises, I had searched for years for a program that can help me, not only to pursue my studies and to obtain a PhD degree, but also to achieve the goals of my life. I didn’t just search for a program that could provide me with a certificate only. All universities can do this! I wanted a program that broadens my mind and the way I see the world, and I had my own criteria for the program I was dreaming of back then.
The Executive PhD program at Antwerp Management School simply ticked all the right boxes: AMS Executive PhD aims at senior executives and enables them to apply relevant knowledge and research skills to contemporary business problems within their organization. In addition, the program focuses on developing academic skills, of course, but also on the professional and personal growth of the candidates. On top, AMS is a fully accredited and highly ranked business school. So, the choice was quite easy, really.
And how did you experience your journey? Did the EPhD program at AMS meet your expectations?
AMS certainly hasn’t disappointed me. The AMS Executive PhD program is a premium development program, designed to be both academically rigorous and intellectually challenging. It helped me in gaining the competencies that are key to successfully boost my career, both in academia and business. I have for instance learned to combine critical and systemic thinking. As a result, I now see myself approaching complex problems from different angles in order to find the right solutions.
Throughout the modules, we were also introduced to varying research designs and methods allowing us to choose the ones that best fit our different research areas. Moreover, the AMS EPhD program offers sessions on academic writing and publications, which is quite unique.
And then, the whole atmosphere and the community feeling at AMS are remarkable. It was quite obvious from the beginning that all team members of the AMS program absolutely enjoy what they are doing. This has also reflected on my experience as a candidate. The support, encouragement, and positive energy we receive, have turned this journey into something really special.
It was still a tough journey, though. Being a full-time lecturer, I had little or no time to work on my PhD during weekdays. So, I had to do all of the work on weekends and during holidays. Which meant less time with family & friends. But it was definitely worth it, this is truly a lifetime investment.
What was your research about, exactly?
I used primary data from Muslim consumers across countries (Kuwait and the UK) to study consumers’ luxury perception and purchasing intentions in the Islamic market. Muslims are reported as the most affluent and fastest-growing faith-based consumer segment who give high importance to their religion. Thus, it is vital to understand how Muslims value luxury and how this affects their buying intentions. And to understand how luxury values are influenced by the consumers’ degree of commitment to the Islamic teachings and their acculturation to the global consumer culture.
The results of my research can help luxury marketers to target Muslim consumers more effectively, which will hopefully also reflect in the economic development. One particularly interesting finding of my research is that Muslim consumers negatively review sustainable luxury products. This highlights the need for increasing consumers' awareness toward sustainable value in this market before highlighting luxury brands’ sustainable practices.
But not only luxury marketers will benefit from my research. I will of course also pass on my findings to my students.
So would you recommend the AMS Executive PhD program?
Absolutely. Now that I have become a bit of an expert in luxury consumers, I would say that AMS is offering a luxurious sustainable educational experience. The AMS program meets all the luxury values a consumer may be looking for: superior quality, exclusivity, and having a joyful experience, all resulting in a unique learning experience. The obtained degree, knowledge, skills, and networks are definitely sustainable. I’m so proud to be an AMS PhD!