In our ‘10 Questions’ series, KBS caught up with Dr Annunziata Esposito Amideo, a Kent Business School PhD Alumna.
She joined Kent Business School (KBS) as a PhD student in Management Science in September 2015 and, after submitting her doctoral dissertation in September 2018, she defended it in December 2018 by passing her viva with minor corrections, and was awarded the PhD in July 2019. During the academic year 2018/2019, she has been a Lecturer in Management Science at KBS. Starting October 2019, she is a Lecturer in Business Analytics at the Quinn School of Business at the University College Dublin. Annunziata also holds an MSc in Management Engineering and a BSc in Management Engineering in Logistics and Production from University Federico II of Naples, both awarded summa cum laude.
Describe yourself in 3 words
Hard-working: I don’t give up on something up to the time I either find the solution or understand no solution exists
Resilient: I have got to know the meaning of success as well as failure but this has not prevented or stopped me from pursuing my targets
Supportive: I love to help, be a colleague, a student or a friend. I feel happy when either my knowledge or my experience can be useful for somebody else!
How did you come to realise that you wanted to pursue a PhD?
Whilst I was writing my masters’ dissertation in operational research (management science) applied to City Logistics, my supervisors found me very devoted and interested in the research activity. After my masters’, I had the chance to work as a postgraduate research fellow with my MSc supervisors and, during that time, I became more and more passionate about research in the broader sense. I had the chance to apply operational research to several contexts, such as telecommunication networks and critical infrastructures, and to publish some journal articles. That was the time I decided to apply for a PhD at KBS. My masters’ supervisors knew Professor Maria Paola Scaparra (who has been my PhD supervisor at KBS) and suggested me to get in touch with her to discuss the possibility of pursuing a PhD.
What was the focus of your research?
My doctoral activity was aimed at identifying how optimisation tools could improve mitigation and response operations within disaster management. The two research topics I dealt with during my PhD are Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (i.e., how to plan resource allocation strategies so that communication networks can hedge against potential disruptions) and Evacuation Planning (i.e., shelter location and evacuation routine activities). I deployed bi-level programming and scenario-based mixed-integer programming to develop novel optimisation models for the aforementioned research areas. I have also been looking into both exact (i.e., decomposition approaches) and heuristic solution methods. My research interests also include, in a broader sense, railway infrastructure protection, transportation networks planning, and location-routing problems arising within the field of city logistics.
What important lessons did you learn from studying at KBS?
Studying at KBS has been an amazing experience. It has allowed me to get in touch with colleagues and members of the academic staff coming from different corners of the globe thus enriching me as an individual on so many different levels. I would say that the two most important lessons are resilience and task management. I have always been determined in pursuing my objectives as well as managing time effectively during my previous academic studies however, studying at PhD level has allowed me to enhance these skills even further. Resilience is needed to keep going also when some days things are not working at their best. Task management is fundamental when you want to research but at the same time you may have teaching commitments (i.e., I was on a Graduate Teaching Assistantship scholarship) and you would also like to attend training courses and conferences.
What advice would you give other PhD students?
Stay focused – Three years seem a lot but you need to manage your time effectively to meet all the deadlines, produce a piece of work you (and your supervisors) are satisfied with and that enhance your job prospects
Choose the routine that suits you best – I have always been an office person and, as such, I was coming into the office every day. However, everyone is different. Just remember that you need to deliver, the way you do it is up to you
Look at smaller objectives to push yourself – Partition big targets in smaller tasks: achieving more smaller tasks will make you feel more satisfied and your productivity will motivate you further to finish the bigger picture!
Embrace any opportunity – Take advantage of all the possible training and attend as many conferences as possible: they are the best stage to gain feedback on your research and network with peers (with whom eventually you may write a research paper!)
Always ask your supervisor – Your supervisor has always your best interest at heart and he/she is the best point of reference for whichever doubt you may have on your research. However, you need to be an independent researcher by the end of your PhD hence, do all you can and, once you tried every possible idea, ask for suggestions from your supervisor.
Do you have a mentor/role model who has inspired you?
Resilience and hard-work are qualities that I have inherited from my family so I would say that the members of my family have been and still are my main role models. However, I truly look up to my PhD supervisor at KBS, Professor Maria Paola Scaparra, from both an academic and personal perspectives for her tremendous work ethics and the support she provided me all the years we worked together. Also, I truly appreciate the support that has been given to me by Dr Kathy Kotiadis, currently Director of the PhD programme at KBS, who trusted me with several tasks including being part of the organizing committee for OR61, the annual Operational Research Society conference that has been held at KBS in September 2019.
What has your experience teaching at KBS been like?
The experience has been great. I had the chance to start teaching during my PhD thanks to a Graduate Teaching Assistantship scholarship. This has allowed me to become familiar with the lecture, seminar and marking procedures as well as all kinds of students (UG and PG, including MBA). Also, as a GTA, I had the chance to obtain the title of Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy through a series of courses. The teaching experience gained through the PhD has been fundamental when I progressed to be a Lecturer in Management Science at KBS. The level of responsibility increased (I convened two modules myself) but the knowledge previously gained has helped me to perform at my best. I would suggest every PhD student practice with teaching, especially if you want to pursue an academic career.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Work-wise, I would like to have climbed up the professional ladder up to senior lecturer level with several publications having a practical impact on real-life problems, and maybe have some of them actually applied in reality.
If you could pick one song as the soundtrack to your PhD journey, what would it be?
Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen.
What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I am actually an open book – you can read everything that I think through my eyes!
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