Within two hours of interviewing Sarah Forbes for her first position as a fully-fledged lecturer, England's University of Birmingham Marketing Department texted that the job was hers.
Now, in March 2013, while Sarah is busy with her first weeks of teaching, initiating research, and meeting students and staff, she is also in the last throes of completing her PhD through the Department of Marketing in the Otago School of Business, a School she credits for her swift success.
“I know that having worked in the summer bursaries offered in the School of Business made a huge difference to my CV, “ she says. “It meant that I learned the craft of conducting research within Marketing.
“With the bursaries came the collegial environment within the Marketing Department, and the opportunities to conduct further research and attend international conferences.
“Each of these opportunities was crucial in helping me to get to the job that I am in today. I am forever grateful.”
Sarah's entire tertiary education has taken place at Otago, culminating in her PhD, entitled, “The importance of frequency when classifying an individual as sufficiently active”.
“Frequency tends to be overlooked in research which may in part have influenced decisions to remove frequency in physical activity recommendations and classification criteria (i.e., are they sufficiently active or not?),” she explains. “Even the World Health Organisation has recommended two different criteria for classifying an individual as 'sufficiently active', one is 'total physical activity minutes' and the other is 'total physical activity minutes plus frequency of days active'.
“Specifically, my thesis explored whether the inclusion or exclusion of frequency when classifying individuals as 'sufficiently active' influences the psycho-social and physical activity level profiles of the individuals.
“My thesis also examined whether individuals who are active but not meeting the criteria for frequency of physical activity respond to a behavioural intervention.
“The implications of my research relate to segmentation and profiling of individuals targeted in interventions or social marketing campaigns.”
Sarah says her PhD supervisors Dr Kirsten Robertson, Professor Rob Lawson and Dr Damien Mather were each invaluable to her learning process.
“Kirsten is so supportive of my ideas and taught me that any problem should be matched with academic rigour. Damien taught me all about analytical techniques. Rob taught me to question the bigger picture. My supervisors are incredibly supportive and I know I owe a lot of why I love what I do to the lessons they passed on to me.”
Dr Robertson is equally expansive about Sarah, saying, “Sarah's passion for research, teaching, and the welfare of students paved the way for her academic career. I look forward to future research collaborations with Sarah and the opportunities this may provide for furthering collaborative relationships between Birmingham and the University of Otago.”
Sarah adds, “I know [I got my job] in part because of the reputation of Otago's Department of Marketing (which is well regarded internationally) and my supervisors. The department truly gave me the best opportunity for an academic career.”
Find out more about Marketing at Otago.