Saipriya Kamath

Saipriya Kamath, Assistant Professor of Accounting, London School of Economics & Political Science, UK, Fellow in Management, ISB (2016)

Why ISB? Was it not a risk considering the programme was being kick-started and there were more established doctoral programmes available elsewhere?
ISB was already a brand of international repute when I applied to their FPM programme. Having seen ISB successfully build their PGP programme within ten years gave me the confidence that the FPM programme could also be made a success.

Apart from this, my experience during the interview process gave me confidence that the faculty were very keen in making the programme a success. Although there is a risk element in joining a new programme, I knew that the greatest benefit of joining a new programme would be that the school would be as much or even more interested in seeing us succeed, and hence I was confident that we would receive all the support needed.

Once you joined the programme, what were the features/characteristics that you felt were unique, and would not be available in other institutions that offered similar programmes?
Due to ISB’s model of hiring visiting faculty to teach many PGP courses, we get the opportunity to interact with professors from several schools and receive feedback from these top-notch researchers. ISB is also one of the few schools that provides training for teaching through a consortium, which exposes us to different methodologies. Finally, some of the courses such as Causal Inference and Communicating Scientific Research are offered in very few schools around the world.
Given the discipline that you are in, how suited is ISB for research in the area and how did you benefit because of it?
My research interests are in the area of Accounting and Finance, and ISB has excellent professors who guided me in this area. ISB also has a tradition of inviting visiting professors for longer duration of one or two years, and I benefitted tremendously from interacting with them.
What, according to you, are the aspects that a potential researcher/doctoral candidate, before zeroing in on an institution, should consider to pursue a programme?
A potential doctoral candidate should look for three things. First, he/she should look for availability of research-active professors doing work in his/her area of interest. Second, and more important would be to look for a school that has a mentoring attitude towards its doctoral students rather than just go for a brand name. Third would be to assess the support environment – things such as frequency of seminars from visiting faculty, emphasis of research in the school, availability of databases etc. will make a huge difference in the research process.
What are the essential elements to become a successful researcher? How should one prepare for it?
Considering that I am just starting out my career as a researcher, I can only mention the characteristics I have seen in other successful researchers. The most important characteristic is curiosity – the need to keep questioning status quo and the want to ask “why” is what helps one to come up with interesting research questions that are more fundamental; it also helps you look at a problem from different viewpoints. Second is having perseverance. This will help in learning to take criticism in your stride and using it to improve your work; it will also help you accept rejections and still keep on going till you find an acceptable solution. Finally, the ability to articulate ideas well, both in person and in writing, cannot be emphasized enough. Some of the best researchers I have come across are also very cogent writers; they gently persuade the readers of their ideas. 
How did your experience at ISB help?
ISB gave me a solid foundation and training in research methods through very unique courses such as Causal Inference and a course on Scientific Writing. These are courses which are probably available in a handful of schools in the world. Apart from this, ISB gave me an opportunity to work with top-notch researchers and learn from the best. This training has helped me to start my career as a researcher and I hope I put the training to good use.
What role do your classmates play in your education?
It’s a very interesting question because my classmates are not only my best friends but also my worst critics. But, without them I am sure my research wouldn’t have reached where it is. They are the first people I reach out to get feedback on my work. They push the ideas and question why I am even working on the project, and I am thankful for all those questions.

What offers did you get?
I am happy to let you know that I have received offers from six different schools. I have received offer from London School of Economics & Political Science, University of Melbourne, Cass Business School, University of Amsterdam, Erasmus School of Economics, and from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

Now that you are joining an institution of global repute, how do you think the ISB experience will help you pursue your research interests?
ISB has laid a strong foundation for research both through coursework and through guidance received from professors. ISB has also helped shape my research interests and I hope to develop new and meaningful collaborations in the coming years.