Laura Bradshaw, PhD researcher

Laura, from the UK, is a PhD student at Loughborough University London studying under the Institute for Sport Business. Prior to her studies at London, she graduated from Coventry University with an MBA in International Sports Management and Glyndwr University with a BSc in Sports Science.

What country are you from?

The UK.

Under which institute are you studying your PhD?

Institute for Sport Business.

What is the full title of your PhD?

It’s not rocket science: a neurophenomenological study into performance evolution and organisational innovation in sports enterprises.

Please give a brief synopsis of what you are researching and why.

I am researching elite performance through organisational innovation and human optimisation. I am looking at elite organisations and high performance strategies and characteristics that enable organisations to achieve this ‘elite’ status. The research focuses on organisations such as NASA, Military Special Operations, Red Bull, Silicon Valley Tech companies and those closer to home such as Team Sky and The Royal Ballet among others, by observing characteristics that enable such organisations to perform at an elite standard.

The research identifies; Innovation, Culture, Leadership and Neuroscience as four pillars of an elite performing organisation. Interesting symbiotic relationships appear between the unexpected juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated concepts. Interesting cross pollinations are highlighted when abstract subjects such as Sport, Space, Neuroscience and Business are pulled together. It offers very exciting opportunities for future implementation on a practitioner level and the possibility of further research spin offs as a result of this project. 

Who are your academic supervisors?

Professor James Skinner and Dr Steve Swanson.

Why did you choose Loughborough University London to undertake your PhD?

I was offered a fully-funded PhD Studentship in Sports Business Innovation at Loughborough University London to pursue my own research idea. Having previously worked on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for 4 years it was a great opportunity to be able to return and be a part of the London 2012 Olympic Legacy. 

Tell us about your academic background.

I have a BSc Sports Science from Glyndwr University and an MBA International Sports Management from Coventry University.

What attracted you to your chosen research field?

The gap in the academic literature and lack of previous research when it comes to merging Neuroscience, Sport, Space, Business and Innovation.

What research have you completed so far?

I am at the beginning of my research journey, currently identifying key literature, themes, concepts and theories to use to ground the research in. There have been opportunities to attend conferences and listen to other PhD research students presenting their projects which have been fascinating.

Describe a day in the life of a PhD student.

My day begins with a walk across the Olympic Park, and a coffee and catch up with the PhD research team. I usually get any emails and paperwork out of the way first thing and choose a few journals to focus on reading for the first few hours, making notes and recording an annotated bibliography. This usually ends up with me working until late as I become absorbed in reading through an interesting subject areas. I like to watch videos on my subject area on YouTube for a broader understanding and read through social media to keep up to date with industry research and news.

Some days will result in a long day reading and taking notes followed by a day off to absorb the information walking round the London parks or getting some fresh air around nature. It is often when you step away from the books that the ideas and solutions come to you, so a good balance is key to staying on track.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to do something active in my free time as we spend a lot of time sitting and reading in the week so it is nice to get out of London, take a road trip and get some fresh air. I come from Wales so it is great to go back and visit as it’s a very ‘outdoorsy’ part of the country. I also like to attend cultural events, visit historic sites, go sightseeing or meet friends to explore London day and night. There is so much to do, even on a small budget there are plenty of ways to enjoy free time in London.

How would you describe the research community on campus?

Fun, focused and innovative. The research community in London is a diverse group of researchers working on a wide variety of projects. We have a mix of students from different cultural backgrounds so it adds to a creative atmosphere.

What advice would you give to prospective PhD students looking to study at Loughborough University London?

Come and join us! Yes it’s a financial sacrifice leaving the option of work behind to pursue a PhD and it takes great discipline to budget well and manage the workload, but it is so rewarding and the journey is there to be enjoyed. I believe you get out of a PhD want you are willing to put into it and we have a supportive research community so it doesn’t get lonely or isolated. It’s fun, hard work but the learning experience is worth it.