Having completed is PhD in 2020, Simone is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Padova with the Department of Economics and Management.
How would you describe your academic journey in one or two sentences?
My academic journey in a little atypical, especially in Italy, because i jumped from philosophy to management. After completing my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy, I decided to apply for a PhD in management. I was not aware of the effort this shift would require of me, but I’ve gain a lot from taking this path. I really enjoyed what I did before and I am really enjoying what I am doing now—I feel like a hybrid scholar studying sustainability!
What inspired you to pursue a PhD?
I chose to do my PhD because I was driven by the desire to explore a topic I was passionate about. During my bachelor’s degree in “the philosophy of communication” we discussed violence in the global era. In one of the lectures, the professor brought up the topic of economy. Surprised, I asked myself: “why is the economy ‘violent’?” That was the beginning of my journey to explore sustainability and responsibility in business, which led me, after my bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees, to discovering the other side of the coin, beyond the theoretical one. That’s why I applied for a PhD in management, to equip myself with the necessary knowledge to study sustainability from a business perspective.
What are the top three highlights, professional skills, or other experiences you have had during your time as a PhD student?
Learning how to develop a research question and to implement the right methodology.
How would you summarize your research project(s) in a short title?
The title of my PhD thesis is: “Fast as a tortoise. Paradox in sustainability conceptual and empirical insights”. To summarize more, I work on the complexity of sustainability.
In brief, what is the empirical method/context you are adopting in your thesis?
My thesis is divided into three chapters: one theoretical, a literature review, and an empirical study. For the second part of the thesis I used a systematic literature review methodology. For the empirical part of the study, I collected data through a survey and then implemented Structural Equation Modelling (SME) and regression analyses.
Can you describe a “eureka moment” you might have had during your PhD?
When, after two years of work, I finally submitted to a journal the empirical part of my thesis. Almost impossible to believe when I started it.
What side projects, communities, or other initiatives are you involved with?
I had the opportunity, with my colleague Lucrezia Nava (whom I met during my visit to ESADE), to found the Sustainability PhD Community, a virtual community of PhD students working on sustainability. Our purpose was to facilitate student to engage, share research, and meet colleagues. Another great experience has been the Paradco & COVID-19 project which I coordinated with three amazing scholars such as Garima Sharma, Josh Keller, and Camille Pradies. This project is comprised of 42 paradox researchers proposing how paradox theory could help in understanding the pandemic crisis, and it resulted in four papers published in the Journal of Management Inquiry in 2021.
What three tips would you offer to new PhD students in your field?
- Engage with peers
- Go out into the world and visit others
- Choose a supervisor that supports and guides you
What hobbies or interests do you enjoy outside of work?
I love outdoor sports, such as climbing in summer and alpine skiing in the winter.
In one or two sentences, what does the GRONEN community mean to you?
GRONEN is an incredible community, last year when I attended the conference, even online, I immediately felt welcomed. It gave me the opportunity to meet great scholars from all over the world. I have truly appreciated the special attention GRONEN has for young researchers, with special events or workshops to help us grow in our in research and in our career.
What’s next for you?
I will complete my two-year postdoc at the University of Padova, then I would like to remain in academia, making a contribution by working on sustainability-focused projects.
Simone is open to networking with new colleagues and can be reached by e-mail.
Ryan Johnson, PhD student in the Sustainability Management program at the University of Waterloo.