ISM - International School of Management

Ellen Maasdorp's DBA at ISM, Part 1


Ellen Maasdorp · 2014-2019

Published: 28 May 2018 | by Ellen Maasdorp

ISMEllen Maasdorp started a Doctorate in Business Administration at the ISM - International School of Management in Paris, France. In her blog she shares her experience with everyone interested in what doing a DBA could be like.

What were you doing prior to entering the DBA program at ISM?

I’ve been working for almost twenty-nine years in a corporate environment, in various industries such as the Banking/Financial Sector, Postal Services Sector, Private Sector and Public Services Sector (Non-Profit). When I entered the DBA program at The International School of Management, I was employed as a Senior Manager in the Human Resources Administration department and responsible for Human Resources Management processes, strategy development and the implementation thereof as well as other softer issues such as problem solving.

What compelled you to pursue a DBA?

Enrolling for the DBA program was the next logical step as part of a lifelong learning endeavor. After I completed my MBA in 2008 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice at the University of Cape Town in 2014 on systems thinking, critical and strategic thinking, problem solving within complex business environments etc., it inspired me to further my studies to get a deeper understanding of management practices especially on an international level. The DBA program is well designed to enable me as a professional to apply my acquired knowledge to complex business problems within my working environment and to document that process within a thesis.

Why did you choose to study at ISM?

I had researched a few local as well as international business schools and decided on ISM, because it is widely recognized and accredited by ACBSP and IACBE and is an active member in Europe, Middle East and Africa. ISM provides an international networking platform for many different cultures to learn from one another and broaden one’s perspective on the social, cultural, political, business and management practices. Also, what was of particular interest to me was the e-learning courses specifically tailored for part-time working professionals such as myself and courses at many different international locations.

What was the selection and admissions process like?

The selection and admission processes were very intensive. After I had enquired about the DBA on ISM’s website, I was contacted immediately and provided with all the information that I needed. At first, I was interviewed by the Director of Recruitment and Development, Ms. Alison Knight and then by the Dean and Director of Research, Professor Santora, EdD to discuss my suitability for the DBA program including my proposed thesis topic etc., before my application was submitted to the ISM Admissions committee for consideration and approval for the program. The ISM team was very professional throughout the admissions process. They proved that distance is no barrier to learning.

How was the first year/period of the program?

The DBA degree requires the completion of two Professional Assessment Evaluation Case Studies, one at the start of the course and the second towards the end of the program. The first case study was a bit of a challenge, because at the time, I did not know what presenting a professional document at doctoral level entailed. According to me, the case study was intended to measure my current skill set and my ability to strategically and critically analyze a case study according to doctoral standards, and I’ve managed to execute this successfully. This exercise served as a road map to successfully complete the second and final case study. I’ve attended very demanding face-to-face courses in Paris, Cape Town and Shanghai respectively, which was an amazing experience as it expanded my international network tremendously.

To date, I’ve completed my coursework, which refined my thinking, built resilience and character and provided me with ample opportunity to explore my academic interest for the next stage of the program by crafting my research topic and proposal.

Your Contact at the ISM - International School of Management

Alison Knight is the Director of Recruitment and Development at ISM. You can contact her through or the REQUEST INFO Button below or at +(33) 01 45 51 09 09. She will be happy to answer your questions on the International School of Management and its doctoral programs.

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