Meet Dr Lloyd Fletcher, Lecturer in the School of Economics, Finance and Management.
Tell us about your journey into academia…
I took a long and twisting road, moving from my roots in science and engineering to the ‘dark side’ of social science! I had no long range plans, more a series of tactical steps as my interests and skills evolved.
After a first degree in physics in the UK, I studied computer engineering at master’s level in the States. Despite the urging of my dissertation supervisor to stay on for a PhD in computer vision, I then spent several years in the US telecoms sector as an analyst, project, and product manager. This developed my interest in business and management, so I went back to school for an MBA.
After graduating I spent some time as an independent management and research consultant in America, before returning to settle in the UK, where I ran IT departments for a scientific publisher. Following that, I became a freelance consultant again, helping organisations with their strategic thinking and project management problems.
Throughout my academic and business careers, I had developed a desire to explore and explain why businesses and organisations seemed to be so often dysfunctional, suboptimal, inefficient and disappointing! Plus, I’d nurtured that temptation to go back for a PhD, in part for the intellectual challenge, but mostly because I’d always enjoyed teaching and research, and wanted to do it at the highest level in an area that drew on what I’d learned on my journey so far. This led me to a PhD in management at Bristol, and a lectureship here.
What’s your favourite thing about teaching on postgraduate taught programmes at Bristol?
Light bulbs going off! (I mean metaphorically in the heads of our students.) Seeing someone ‘get it’ – a challenging or complex idea that we’ve been discussing in class or they’ve been reading about, and through applying it to a real life case, or exploring the theory in depth, they suddenly fully grasp it and get excited about how they could use it – that might be in their future careers or even in their own academic studies.
These sorts of ‘tangible truths’ are especially common in my project management courses, where students leave with practical tools and valuable insights that they can use right away. Projects are everywhere, and we need good project managers, so our focus is on helping students become critical, systematic, and rigorous thinkers about projects and their management: in other words, we try to shed light on the subject from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. So the more light bulbs the better!
What’s your number one top tip for prospective postgraduates?
Develop a clear rationale for why you want to study at this level and what you want to get out of it in the long term. Then be prepared to fully engage and commit to what it will take to get you there. And to figure out what that entails, talk to faculty and students: tell us what you’re hoping to achieve, and ask us what we think you’ll need to do to accomplish those goals on our programme. Armed with those answers, decide if you think you’re willing and able to ‘do what it takes’.