“10 Questions” – Rufus Howard

In our ‘10 Questions’ series, KBS catches up with PhD students to find out about their research experience. This month, we put our questions to PhD student Rufus Howard.

Rufus Howard BSc LLM FIEMA CEnv, a 3rd Year student studying for a PhD in Management at KBS, previously studied at TIAS Business School, Kent Law School and the Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE).

Describe yourself in 3 words

Fantastic Mr Fox.

How did you come to realise that you wanted to pursue a PhD?

I have always loved learning. After 12 years of working in an international environmental consultancy, I wanted to return to academia to continue my studies.

What’s the focus of your research? Where did your interest in management previously originate?

My lifelong passion is biodiversity conservation and environmental sustainability. I am currently studying in the field of Management, and my research is focused on integrating environmental values with the concept of public service motivation. I hope to contribute to the evolution of Public Management to aid the transition to an environmentally sustainable, low carbon and equitable society.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope to be continuing my journey of lifelong learning, enjoying quality time with my family, whilst pursuing my passion to contribute to transitioning society towards a sustainable, compassionate and harmonious relationship with nature.

What important lessons have you learned from studying for a PhD at KBS so far?

There are an enormous amount of talented and hard-working individuals working in finance, economics, management, business and marketing. However, I still feel that during the ongoing social and ecological crisis, there is still a huge waste of these intellectual resources going into supporting inherently-flawed business-as-usual research, and very low levels of deep engagement with the urgent challenge of sustainable development. Rather than vilify business schools and their academics, we need to be drastically re-purposing them to turn their undoubtable talents to transforming society into a sustainable and equitable society.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I am a big fan of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, which is full of sage advice. This quote is one that resonated with me in particular; ‘Spend no more time thinking about how to be a good man. Be one.’ M. Aurelius.

What advice would you give other PhD students?

Practice simplification. What are the essentials of a situation? Sometimes it is more efficient to stop, re-visit the purpose and assumptions of activity, task or direction and ask yourself, ‘What am I trying to achieve?’, ‘Is there a more elegant solution?’. The pithy version of this advice is ‘work smarter, not harder’. Or apply the Pareto Principle, (80/20 rule), i.e. 80% of your progress will come from 20% of your actions. Prioritise.

Do you have a mentor/role model who has inspired you?

I have a copy of ‘The Daily Stoic’ by Ryan Holiday, which nicely condenses the wisdom of great Stoic philosophers such as Seneca, M. Aurelius, Epictetus, Musonius Rufus and Zeno into a daily quote and commentary. I have used this daily meditation throughout my PhD and find it to be an inspiration.

If you could pick one song as the soundtrack to your research/PhD journey, what would it be?

‘Life’s What You Make It’ by Talk Talk.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

‘I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe: oil wells on fire in the Libyan Sahara. I’ve watched pink dolphins glitter deep in the Peruvian Amazon. All those…moments…will be lost…in time, like… tears… in the rain.’ (Adapted from Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner 1982).

If you would like to be featured in our ’10 Questions’ series, please get in touch with a member of the PhD & Research Team or email kbsresearchteam@kent.ac.uk.

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