Sonya is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Leeds University Business School, after having been approved the award of the degree of PhD in February 2022. During her doctoral candidature, Sonya was supervised by Professor Giles Hirst. Her PhD thesis explored how parental experience influences creativity in the workplace. By analysing multi-wave data collected from 276 parent–employee–supervisor triads, Sonya found support for the hypothesis that perfectionist parents cause their children to develop a fear of failure. Moreover, she found that this fear not only discourages risk-taking behaviour and creativity, but that it is reinforced in work settings when employees have a comparable experiences – i.e. are similarly managed by perfectionist leaders.
Before commencing her PhD studies, Sonya earned a Master of Philosophy in organisational behaviour from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Business Administration from the National Chengchi University.
27 MAY 2022
What was your PhD project and why did you choose to work on this?
I am particularly interested in exploring how non-work experiences influence one’s performance and creativity at work. Non-work experience represents a significant proportion of our life. Yet, management research to date focuses more on work experience than non-work experience. My research therefore took a programmatic approach to examine how non-work experiences may influence employees’ success and creativity at work.
How did you celebrate the achievement of this important milestone?
I shared the good news with my family, friends and colleagues.
Looking back on your PhD journey, what would you do differently and what advice would you like to share with new HDR students?
Doing a PhD away from your home country can be lonely, so the working relationship between you and your supervisor influences whether you enjoy the research and want to keep pursuing your academic career. I was very lucky to have an exceptionally kind and encouraging supervisor, Professor Giles Hirst, along with very altruistic panel members Dr Guihyun Park and Dr Rob Litchfield, in a very supportive environment at ANU.
It might be helpful for HDR students to view their supervisor as their opponent on the tennis court. Imagine watching Nadal play against Federer in the Australian Open – if Nadal hits a good ball, Federer will enjoy trying to match Nadal’s hit just as beautifully. This kind of game is enjoyable. In contrast, if Nadal keeps making unsuccessful serves, Federer may feel bored and lose interest. Supervisors should challenge you, so if you consistently serve up good work for your supervisor, he or she will enjoy returning it to a higher standard for you to try to match. Thus, the two of you will produce beautiful work.
What is your next adventure?
I have been working as a postdoc researcher at the Leeds University Business School since last year. I’m working in an outstanding school with an exceptional faculty, including Professor Lynda Song, Dr Ahmed Mostafa, Dr Irnazarow Aleksandra, Professor Andy Charlwood, Dr. Qin Zhou, and Professor Chiahuei Wu. I am working on publishing high-quality research and making a social impact by enhancing the wellbeing of minority healthcare workers’ in the National Health System in United Kingdom.