Shaun Collier
Technology Managing Director in the investment banking division of Deutsche Bank
Doctor of Business Administration

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your career background and any previous qualifications?  

I am a technology Managing Director in the investment banking division of Deutsche Bank based in London. My career as a technologist and chartered engineer has been predominantly in financial services delivering large scale transformation programmes. I hold a BSc in Computational Science from the University of Hull, an MSc in Systems and Software Security from Oxford, and an MBA from Cambridge.

What first attracted you to Warwick Business School and the DBA?

The Warwick Business School DBA provides an opportunity for me to continue my academic journey, applying research to address real-world business problems. I was looking for a programme that offered face-to-face contact with my peers and the academic staff. WBS at the Shard is not only conveniently located but also a beautiful building in which to study. WBS has a healthy aspiration to remain a top tier provider through investment. It has an impressive bench of academics and professors of practice who can challenge and provide insight across the different dimensions of the research project. By its very nature, a DBA project addressing a real-world problem is multi-dimensional, therefore demanding the input and perspectives from multiple disciplines. By embarking on the DBA journey, I am learning the craft of research and the skills of a "scholar-practitioner". It's not simply about producing a piece of research; it's about learning the practical skills that can be used again and again to create content or evaluate the contributions of others. I view the DBA project as the vehicle to demonstrate this proficiency.

Can you tell us about your chosen DBA project and why you chose this?

My research is rooted in behavioural science, studying the factors of influencing specific leader behaviour. I am interested in better understanding organisational behaviour and what motivates individuals. Understanding the factors that make it more or less likely that leaders will perform certain behaviours is essential in developing effective intervention strategies. My DBA project is an opportunity to explore the fascinating subject of leadership in more detail and design interventions that can make a demonstrable difference.

How have the skills and techniques you have gained influenced how you approach challenges at work and your strategic decision-making?

There are endless opportunities to apply the learnings from academia at work and contribute to some of the broader organisational challenges. Importantly, validating or challenging ideas with academic rigour is an additional tool to support strategic decision-making. 

How important has the interaction with your supervisor and/or WBS academics been during your DBA?

It is the supervisor's role to help guide you in the right direction, ensure academic rigour is applied correctly, and help connect you with the academic community and relevant literature. As every DBA project is unique, so is each student-supervisor relationship. The emphasis is on setting up the meetings as required, which I do at a minimum once per month.

What would you say are the three main highlights/benefits of your DBA so far?

As mentioned earlier, I am enjoying learning the skills of a scholar-practitioner. The cohort is fantastic, a small, tight-knit group of 24 individuals representing 19 nationalities, each with significant experience from various domains, industries and geographies. Sharing the experience is reassuring. We have a common goal but are often travelling different paths. We regularly meet at "checkpoints" along the way to share experiences, thoughts and ideas. We are never alone. Four years at minimum, is a marathon, not a sprint.

How easy has it been to fit the workshops and study time into your day-to-day schedule?

A DBA is a significant commitment of personal time on top of the demands from everything else going on in life. I am organised and disciplined and therefore make the time, but it is unlike an MBA, where you have a very structured schedule and set of assessments every month. There are few enforced milestones, and whilst the supervisors are there to provide guidance, you are mainly working to your schedule and timescales. Self-motivation is, therefore, a necessary competence.

Do you have any advice for anyone currently thinking about studying the Warwick DBA?

Feeling that you need to know the precise details of your research question at the outset can deter some people from applying. The purpose of the first year is to help you narrow down the topic, identify where you may have been over-ambitious, and ensure your project is achievable within the timescales or that the data is accessible. Most people will change or narrow their focus area at least once. By attending the open events and meeting the academics and the people already on their DBA journey, you will have access to the best information to support your decision making. Pick a subject in which you are passionate about and enjoy the journey.

Find out more about the DBA programme here