PhD graduate and UKZN lecturer, Dr Patricia Shewell surrounded by her family.

A firmly held belief that learning is a life-long process is what motivates PhD graduate and Management Accounting lecturer Dr Patricia Shewell.

Shewell, who obtains her doctorate from UKZN exactly 40 years after finishing matric, said pursuing a PhD was an important learning experience for an academic.

‘I felt I needed a new career challenge and doing a PhD provided that challenge. Getting a doctorate is a necessary first step in being able to apply for a promotion but I think it is also an important learning experience for an academic. The experience prepares you to be able to help those you will later supervise and getting it so long after finishing matric is proof that one should never think the learning process is over,’ said Shewell.

Her thesis was titled: Towards Value-Adding Performance: A Finance Function Performance Metric for the South African Freight Forwarding Industry.

The overall aim of her research was to establish whether information overload exists in South African shipping companies and if the overload is being formally managed using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) in performance measurement of the finance function to show the importance of measuring performance.

The study was supervised by Professor Stephen Migiro.

‘There’s no evidence of the importance of measuring performance being critically tested previously and in addition, my research expands the range of applications of DEA. Post PhD, I now have more time to dedicate to my students again and I am also enjoying starting to supervise a bit more and passing on some of what I learnt,’ said Shewell.

Although her PhD journey started out as a new career challenge it ended up reigniting her passion for teaching and learning and reinforcing her faith.

‘I have strong faith, hence the first acknowledgement in my PhD is to my God who makes the impossible possible, which was true of my PhD journey. A huge benefit was also being part of a College of Law and Management Studies research cohort with colleagues who were also working on their doctorates. I am extremely grateful to these colleagues for the interest they showed in my research and for their support,’ said Shewell.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo