Dr Nor Erne Nazira Bazin
When your first ever flight is from Kuala Lumpur to Heathrow you are taking a big leap, but when you throw in a PhD in a foreign country at the end of that flight you’re on a different level. But that’s just what Dr Nor Erne Nazira Bazin did when she decided to study at the University of Salford in the October of 2007.
Erne was employed in the Department of Industrial Computing at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia when she applied to study for her PhD. She had gained her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the same institution and it was decided that she should be fast-tracked on to her doctoral studies. Erne’s department wanted candidates to consider topics related to manufacturing that would suit their requirements, and this directed her area of research as she explains “System Dynamics was not a familiar method applied in the department prior to my application, which I thought would be an interesting new method to study.” And so Erne made that long journey to Salford to study with Prof Brian Dangerfield in the Business School as “A friend recommended to me that Salford has the best centre of Operation Research.”
Like many PhD candidates with caring responsibilities Erne found that her biggest issue was dividing her time between her studies and her family. As the mother of a 10 month old baby, she was particularly grateful to her supervisor who “understands the commitment that I have towards my family”. Erne also acknowledges that the support staff at Salford also helped her enormously by assisting with her day to day problems such as council tax. One of her biggest influences however seems to be her mother, who was particularly keen on Erne and her siblings getting the best education: “My mother worked as a general cleaner while my father worked with the Department of Irrigation in Malaysia. Both have not completed their primary education. However, my mother encouraged us to excel in our studies. Three of my brothers hold bachelor’s degrees in different fields.”
As Erne was already under contract to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, she became a Senior Lecturer there just before she received her PhD. It’s where she is still based today, but as there are very few specialists in System Dynamics in Malaysia her expertise is in demand and she is often invited to conduct courses at other institutions, as she says “My PhD studies in System dynamics for Manufacturing system at Salford has definitely given me valuable knowledge to be shared with other researchers and institutions in my home country.” In 2011 Erne was also pleased to be able to invite Prof Dangerfield out to Malaysia to give a talk on System Dynamics, and it’s the dissemination of this knowledge to the academicians, researchers and students of Malaysia that figures in her future plans. She also wishes to pursue further research in partnership with industry and government agencies in order to assist with policy design.
Dr Bazin’s advice for current PhD candidates is full of pragmatism, as she states “There’ll be ups and downs, some highly motivated days and some days where you feel like you just want to quit. Do little when you are not in the good vibe, but get your work done as much as you can when your motivation is soaring. Never leave your work too long as you will lose the momentum.” Erne also advocates utilising support networks where necessary, which are important for combatting isolation, “Seek advice and help from friends, postgraduate office, student affairs, to assist you with any problem that you face. Eventually, you’ll get to the end of your PhD journey and you’ll be proud looking back at your accomplishments and obstacles you’ve overcome.” With hard work, perseverance and help from her family and friends, this is just what Erne has done!