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Unit 2, 10 Kam Close
Morisset Industrial Park NSW 2264,


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Thinking of a PhD?   Just do it for Yourself!

Green Geek

Dr Joseph Sweeney has a long history in horticultural labelling, barcode and supply chain management.  He has worked extensively with both public and private sector organisations on a broad range of technology initiatives, including electronic document interchange (EDI), the Greater China region’s adoption of EAN barcodes and product identification numbers, e-commerce, software design and project management.

Since working on the development of TyTags’ initial labelling solutions more than 30 years ago, Joseph has been actively involved in supply chain management issues throughout the Asia Pacific and Australasian region.  Most recently, he spearheaded the development of Australia’s first just-in-time colour digital labelling solution for horticulture and environmental uses.

Better known in horticultural circles as the Green Geek, Joseph writes a monthly article published in Hort Journal Australia  identifying and demystifying  IT from the perspective of growers and nursery managers.

In addition to his role within the family business, Joseph is also an advisor with Intelligent Business Research Services, the largest independent Australian technology advisory and research firm. At IBRS, he guides clients in the planning, selection and deployment of new technologies.


Thinking of a PhD? Just do it for Yourself!

Kascha Sweeney

Upon acceptance of my doctoral thesis, I received a survey from my university, asking two questions that made me sit back and think.

The first question was, “What were the best aspects of your program?”

If you'd asked me this mid-last year, I would have said, "Hair loss. But seriously, engaging in a Ph.D. forces you to examine your worldviews, your assumptions, and the assumptions of the culture in which you live. By culture, I don't mean Australian culture:, but your professional and work culture.  You can't do a Ph.D. without confronting the fact that much of what you know is little more than convenient agreement among peers.

During my study, my perception on the topic on hand (how to solve the issue of keeping technology projects aligned to intended policy outcomes) shifted from a very blinkered engineer's view of the problem to a linguistics view - something I would have never expected. While I pride myself on my analytical capabilities and my skills as a technology engineer, these same strengths became roadblocks. Out of necessity, I had to engage in topics well outside of the regular technologic domain.

If you are considering a PhD, appreciate that the ideas you have at the start of your Ph.D., including the very nature of the thesis itself, will not be those that you finish up with. Your world will be turned upside down. Not everyone will be happy with that - yourself included!

The second question was “What aspects of your program were most in need of improvement?”

I found conducting my research – in particular writing the thesis – forced me to confront personal issues relating to "self-worth". I frequently found myself sabotaging my attempts to write. I felt like a fraud. I constantly rewrote and rewrote, and rewrote passages to "get them just right."

In the fifth year, I knew I was in trouble. I’d spent the previous nine months actively avoiding any work on the thesis because it was making me anxious.  From discussions with other postgraduates, I've discovered that this is a common problem.

In the end, I sought counselling through an education group that specialises in goal achievement and performance, and I got myself two mentors.

Roughly a third of Ph.D.'s are never finished. But of those that are, only about 3-5% fail. The lesson for others considering a Ph.D. is this: it's not so much intelligence that is needed, or brilliant insight, but rather self-knowledge and persistence.

Be prepared to go to work on yourself at least as much as your thesis.

In short, if you are thinking of engaging in higher education, GO FOR IT!  It’s not about the title. It’s not about world-shattering discoveries. It’s about growth. And like everything else in horticulture, that is a good enough reason to is consider investing the time to do a Ph.D.

So… go and be amazing!

DOCTOR Green Geek