I like to make an impact
10/05/2023 - 11:39
The professional doctorate (PD) is the practice-oriented counterpart of the PhD and much more focused on actual interventions when it comes to complex issues in, for example, Leisure, Tourism, Hospitality.
On Monday 2 October, Samantha Boom was in The Hague for the Professional Doctorate Start Conference – together with colleague Peter van der Aalst who also started his PD.
A diptych, then – on personal motivation and goals.
‘I’m so happy with BUas!’ Samantha beams. ‘It’s like a playground. You have so much freedom here and you get so many chances and opportunities to develop. The fact that I get to start my PD now makes me really proud.’
No barriers for you? Because that’s what your research is about, the position of women – specifically in the hotel industry and the possible barriers they experience on their way to the top.
‘Yes, I have been working on that topic for some time. I am delighted that I can now start my PD from that motivation. I always wanted to obtain a doctoral degree, but struggled a bit with the academic PhD, because I like to make an impact, I really want to implement something.’
Is that part of you? This drive to make an impact?
‘I think I’ve always had it. As a hotel student, I once set up the Erasmus Student Network Breda together with a few fellow students. ESN is there especially for international students. That started super small, we didn’t have our own space, I had all kinds of stuff stored in my student room. And in my mum’s little car I went to pick up students from Schiphol Airport. When I returned years later as a lecturer, I saw how big ESN Breda had become. That’s impact, right? So very cool to see!’
Back to your research for a moment. Why women in particular?
‘In my research, it’s about everyone who identifies as a woman, but I look at it from different angles anyway. For example, if a partner does not get parental leave after the birth of a child, that probably also has consequences for a woman’s opportunities for advancement. Having become a mother myself a year and a half ago, I was confronted daily with questions like: ‘Are you going to work less now? Surely you will give up on your PD now? Bizarre, right? I have to do something with this, I thought at the time.’
A very personal motivation, then?
‘Definitely! My little son is my biggest motivation, I would like to show him that anything is possible, if you really want it. I am 27, a single mother and I want to get a doctoral degree! I told my manager that and that’s how my PD adventure started. I figured out how I wanted to shape my research and wrote a proposal. That process took a year. The biggest struggle was finding industry partners willing to facilitate my research. The whole PD thing is still a pilot scheme funded by Taskforce for Applied Research SIA. Partners don’t have to pay for it, but they have to give you complete freedom. For some, I have found that this is still a real barrier, even though the need to work together on this topic is acknowledged by many.’
And which industry partners did you find in the end?
‘I found three willing, actually you only need two, but I am very happy with the commitment of Accor, InterContinental Hotels Group and NH Hotel Group. Together we are going to examine what interventions we can create. What do the women need? What barriers are experienced? What are options to remove them and how do we make this concrete? The hotel industry is all about experiences. These often appear shiny from the outside. But you should also look behind that facade. How do your staff experience working here? And no, it won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. What works in one environment may not work elsewhere. I hope we will come up with something more dynamic than just one type of intervention.’
How do you envisage it? The entire PD process?
‘I will work on my research three days a week, one day I will still be teaching, and one day will be my full-time mum day. That way it will take me five years. That’s quite long, isn’t it? But I have taken this into account in the structure of my research. I want to take my research findings back to the hotel schools in the Netherlands. How can we together ensure that the girls who come to us from school leave here without feeling barriers straight away? I hope my interventions end up helping, even if it’s just one. But hopefully my impact will reach further!’