Paul Jennings

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Paul's postgraduate study supports Scottish science centres

When Paul Jennings started his Professional Doctorate at Cardiff Metropolitan's School of Management, he could never have anticipated how his work would shape national government funding models.

Paul said: "As a busy Science Centre Chief Executive, I saw the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) qualification as a unique opportunity to tackle work-based change issues of sector-wide importance.

"I chose Cardiff Met because I had worked there previously, devising a programme of study and recruiting the first cohort of students for the Events Management course, and I noticed how supportive and student-focused all the staff were.

"Even after I decided teaching wasn't for me, I stayed in touch with Professor Eleri Jones and when she told me about the Professional Doctorate programme, I was really keen to get involved."

Cardiff Met's Professional Doctorate is a higher degree programme designed around the concept of change agency, at the same study level as a PhD but with different objectives – it aims to develop new professional practice rather than theory.

Paul completed the DBA via distance-learning, living and working in Scotland but travelling regularly to Cardiff to meet with his supervisors and other tutors.

Over the three-year course, he undertook research with 26 science centre CEO's to create a performance and accountability framework applicable to all Scotland's science centres.

Paul said: "Bringing together a knowledge-community of experts from Europe, America and Asia provided my investigation with the scope to draw from best-practice and channel it down to a very practical application.

"The work associated with my study is directly applicable to the funding models of the Scottish Government and has significant implications for its support of the country's science centres."

The framework Paul created during his DBA research project has subsequently been adopted by the Scottish Government.

He commented: "I could see that the framework being used in Scotland was unsustainable, so I approached the Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser with my alternative and it was adopted within about six months of me finishing my thesis."

His research also involved working with a small group to reach a consensus position over a network-wide performance framework.

Paul said: "This was a great opportunity to discuss my research in a dynamic professional environment, and I've since been asked to contribute to the ongoing discussions between other science centres and their governments."

Since graduating, Paul spent three years in the US working as the Science Centre of Iowa's CEO before returning to the UK and setting up his own consultancy.

He is now working as the President of Event Network Europe, providing support to science centres and other international visitor attractions in their management, marketing and general business development.

Paul said: "The work I undertook during my DBA highlighted a number of emerging research areas, and has given me the interest and skills required to pursue these.

"I've now moved away from the traditional role of a CEO and am focused on adding value and support to others during periods of change, challenge and opportunity, equipped with many helpful tools from my Professional Doctorate."

Under the spotlight:

1994 MSc Exercise & Nutrition Science at University of Liverpool
1997 Programme Director of Event Management at Cardiff Met
1999 MBA Marketing at University of Leicester
2001 Started work as CEO of Dundee Science Centre
2006 Joined Cardiff Met studying DBA Change Management
2009 Completed DBA and appointed CEO of the Science Centre of Iowa
2011 Set up his own consultancy, Xcentuate Ltd
2013 Appointed President of Event Network Europe

Find out more about PhD and research opportunities at the Cardiff School of Management