Dr Bell Ihua graduated with a PhD in Management Science from Kent Business School at the University of Kent in 2012. Since then, he has secured the role of Chief Executive Officer at NOIPolls, Nigeria’s leading public opinion polling and research organisation. We caught up with Bell to see how his career has developed since completing his studies.
Why did you choose to study your PhD in Management at Kent Business School?
After completing my second master’s degree in Birmingham, I was looking for a University that had a great history of research excellence and a student-friendly environment, where I could develop into an accomplished academic and researcher. I found these two important attributes in Kent Business School, and I consider my decision to study there as one of the best career decisions I’ve made in life.
What was your thesis?
My thesis focused on the use of supermarket loyalty card data within small food companies in the UK. I worked with over 100 small food companies around South-East England for over a period of 4 years to investigate how they could use this ‘big data’ to influence their ability to operate in the the ‘big league’ with supermarkets like Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencers etc. It was a very rigorous and strenuous piece of research, but extremely interesting at the same time. The lessons, experiences and insights gained from the study still help me today.
Who were your supervisors?
My supervisors were Professor Andrew Fearne and Professor Ben Lowe. They both provided me with much-needed academic guidance and support that pulled me through the PhD process. Andrew especially encouraged me a great deal and was a great mentor to me. I will never forget his wise counsel for me to remain focused until I hit the mark. Ben on his part, invested precious time to meticulously review my thesis, and always provided very useful constructive criticism. I am most grateful to both my supervisors. Their encouragement and support has even led me to volunteering some of my time weekly to mentoring young people.
How has your career developed since graduating?
After leaving I picked up a lecturing appointment at Coventry University’s business school, teaching business and strategy modules, and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations. It was while I was at Coventry that I was headhunted back home to Nigeria to contribute my quota to the country’s development through social research and public opinion polls.
“I have consulted for major public institutions in Nigeria and presented research findings to the president of my country.”
What is your current role?
I am currently Chief Executive Officer at NOIPolls, Nigeria’s premier public opinion polling and research organisation. I joined the organisation as Director of Research & Chief Methodologist, and was later promoted to Chief Operating Officer. In August 2015 I was appointed CEO by the board of NOIPolls.
How has what you learned at Kent Business school helped you in your career?
KBS provided me with the sound academic grounding for what I’m doing today. The excellence, quality and rigor of my study at KBS has readied me for my work. For example, in the last five years, I have led and managed over 300 opinion polling and research assignments. I have consulted for major public institutions in Nigeria and presented research findings to the president of my country. I have lead teams to handle two major country surveys for the World Bank and managed four surveys on the Niger Delta region for US-government funded initiatives. I have also led teams to consult for most of the major international development organisations based in Nigeria such as the British DFID, German GIZ, and Japanese JICA, and Gates Foundation amongst others. I am now leading projects across the African continent – Ghana, Kenya, Somalia, Togo, Benin Republic, Cote D’ivoire, Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia and Sierra Leone. All these couldn’t have been possible without my Kent education and experience.
What advice can you offer to anyone currently studying at Kent Business School?
Kent Business School provides a rich blend of academic research excellence in a student-friendly environment. It has an academic culture where the lecturers and academics, as well as fellow students, are always willing to listen and to proffer help where needed. For those currently studying there, especially at PhD level, there is a great deal of opportunity to learn and achieve academic excellence. I encourage you to take advantage of the seminars, poster presentation sessions and academic tutelage of your supervisors, they have made me what I am today.
Many thanks to Bell for sharing his views. Bell studied on a Kent Business School Management PhD programme. Find out more about PhD programmes at Kent Business School.
Did you enjoy this article? Read our blog ‘How to Apply for a PhD in the UK’.
Dr Bell Ihua
Bell graduated with a PhD in Management from Kent Business School at the University of Kent in 2012.