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Testimonial: Waël Sharafeddine's dissertation defense

Waël Sharafeddine
Published on
24 May 2018

On the morning of Thursday 29 March 2018 in Grenoble, after a sleepless night and two days of intensive preparation for my DBA presentation with more than 30 rehearsals, the day I had been awaiting during the five years of my DBA research experience had come. It was time for the final assessment of whether or not I was to be a DBA graduate by defending my dissertation.

Hence, the countdown for the moment of truth started by putting on my suit and carrying my packed bag to the Grenoble Ecole de Management campus. Accordingly, I reached the school’s ninth floor, which I remembered from when I had my stage one defense. My program coordinator met me there and accompanied me to room F909, the same room in which I had previously defended my stage one pilot study.

Last but not least…

After entering the room, connecting my laptop to the projector, and placing my notebook along with a copy of my dissertation on the desk assigned to me, I walked around the room in order to control my stress. I went about exploring all the bits and pieces inside the room: the caps and gowns made by Robe Academicus, the volumes comprising all the GEM DBA and PhD alumni theses, and the name tags placed on the desks where every member of the viva voce panel would be sitting.

Then, while waiting alone in room F909, I had nothing else to do other than stopping by the window to contemplate the mountains and the movement around the train station. At that moment, my thoughts took me back in time to the progression of my DBA journey: the first presentation of my research proposal; the faculty members commenting on my research proposal and asking me to be modest and to narrow my research topic by making it more specific; the first meeting with my supervisor, Dr. Michel Albouy; the evolution of my draft proposal based on the new research knowledge acquired throughout the DBA workshops at GEM; the stage one defense memories; and the challenges I faced while working on my dissertation.

Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice saying “hello,” and I turned to find Dr. Michel Polski, whom I was so glad to meet again. We had a good discussion about the viva voce protocol to be followed during the two hours’ scheduled time for the dissertation defense from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Later, I was introduced to the external and internal reviewers, who joined the room followed by my supervisor.
At that instant, I was worried about the coming two hours, especially the Q&A session. Yet, my supervisor’s words before I started my presentation changed the scene for me by calming me down. He said,

 “You did a very good job; it was a long way, and I am proud of you.”

Those words now represent for me very special memorable moments because they boosted my self-confidence to stand up, present, and defend my research.

Once I finished my presentation and the Q&A session, I was asked to leave the room so that the panel could meet and prepare the final viva voce report. After 25 minutes of waiting outside the room, the viva chair called me again into room F909 to share with me the panel decision. He started reading the panel’s final report that ended with congratulating me on being immediately admitted to the degree of Doctorate of Business Administration. In view of that, whatever I mention about my happiness and joy for completing my DBA cannot express my real feelings at that time.

A memorable journey

I would like to end my telling of my DBA experience by advising DBA students and candidates to seriously take into consideration all their supervisors’ and later reviewers’ comments because such remarks are opportunities for learning to become better researchers and avoiding future pitfalls during the submission of articles for publication.

A last special word to Dr. Michel Albouy to whom I owe great respect. I would like to thank you for your guidance and support during my research journey. You are the key person for my successful DBA completion. You did this by assisting me in refining the research question, by pressuring me to produce a better literature review, by questioning my research methodology, and by asking me to write appropriate clarifications within the dissertation. Thank you!

Waël Sharafeddine, Grenoble Ecole de Management, DBA graduate 2018

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