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Friday 7 March 2014 3:58pm

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Making the move from Northern India to Dunedin was a logical choice for PhD candidate Shobhit Eusebius.

Shobhit Eusebius's hometown of Allahabad, Northern India must know something about branding – it is the site for the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage festival held once every 12 years which in 2013 attracted 100 million visitors.

Shobhit himself is more than conversant in the world of branding. He earned a Master in Business Administration from Christ University, Bangalore; worked in the International Marketing Division of Arvind Ltd, India, one of the three largest denim manufacturers in the world; and was an Assistant Professor – Marketing, at Allahabad's Ewing Christian Institute of Management and Technology.

Aspiring to greater heights in academia

But as one of a family of academics, Shobhit aspired to greater heights in academia and research. He decided the University of Otago Department of Marketing was his next logical step.

“I understood that a PhD from a globally acclaimed University would be a solid platform for my academic career. I realised that New Zealand is an ideal study destination because of the excellent educational systems and institutions it has.

“Further research highlighted the fact that New Zealand's Ministry of Research, Science and Technology had ranked the University of Otago as the top research University in New Zealand overall, taking into account the quality of its staff and the research they produced. The University also had a good position in various international rankings.

“All these things, along with the fact that the Department of Marketing at the University had a couple of professors with similar research interests as mine, influenced my decision to apply for a PhD over here.”

Arriving in Dunedin

Supported by his personal savings, Shobhit arrived in New Zealand in 2011 to work on his PhD regarding the Influence of digital social networks on customer-based brand equity, under the supervision of Otago Marketing Professor Juergen Gnoth and Dr Mathew Parackal.

“Social media websites have fast become a widely popular platform for communication with the potential to influence various aspects of consumer behaviour,” Shobhit says. “However there is still a lack of clarity on how branding theory and practice should adapt to the rapidly changing communication context. This gap attracted my interest towards research in this area.

Shobhit says the biggest challenges he faced in leaving India and coming to Dunedin to study were getting his funding sorted and the six month wait for his Visa.

Living in Dunedin and working within his department has been a simple matter in comparison.

“I grew up in a city centered around academic institutions which is similar to Dunedin. So I feel completely at home with the culture over here.

“The Department of Marketing has a very conducive work environment. All postgraduates are treated as peers by the academic staff. The staff members also go out of their way to provide support to all PhD students.

Overall it feels like we are part of one big family.

“Otago's Graduate Research Services, International Office and Higher Education Development Centre organise a range of seminars which helped me to come to grips with working at Otago. I received an Otago Doctoral Scholarship after I arrived, which allows me to work without any pressure and provides the intellectual freedom necessary to complete a high quality research project.”

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