Dr Mark Hixon
BSc Physics, 1983; PhD Metallurgy and Materials Science, 1987
Managing Director, Consulting Associates Worldwide Limited
I commenced as a research scientist with Lucas Research. I then transferred internally to become a Business Systems Engineer (implementing new manufacturing approaches e.g., Cellular Manufacturing, JIT, TQ etc.). I joined Coopers & Lybrand as a Management Consultant in 1989, followed by KPMG in 1996. In 2001, I started own business.
I have since diversified my work portfolio and now also run a boutique hotel in Padstow and I am also acting as Non-Executive Director where I can share the benefit of my wider business. This includes being on the Board of Directors at Rick Stein; these tend to be finite in nature but I’m very proud to have been invited into their Board and to use my wider business skills to help them.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
It is the autonomy and control of my own destiny. I am now semi-retired and also own a B&B in Padstow (Coswarth House) so work is gradually becoming a thing of the past!
How did your time at University help you start your career?
I found a natural progression from my PhD into a company who were researching the same topics. My tutor, Professor I R Harris was my biggest influence. He gave me opportunities and had a lot of faith in me. I like to think I now have faith in others and provide them with opportunities.
What motivates you?
In my consulting career I always fed on the recognition gained from doing a good job but equally, I find it rewarding when people I have helped go on to develop successful careers. Of late, I love the positive feedback I get from running my hotel as this motivates me to go on and do an even better job.
What was the best thing about your time as a PhD student here?
Gaining more ability to work on my own and increasing my ability to think analytically.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
I enjoyed meeting new people and forging new friendships. I also liked the cellar bar in the student union on a Thursday night as it was always great fun and a chance to catch up with my friends from other courses and other student lodgings.
In what way did living and studying in Birmingham live up to your expectations?
In every way... It made be the person I am. I also made a few lifelong friends.
What advice would you give to PhD students studying on your degree programme?
Try to determine if what you are doing will make a difference to your life. If not, consider if you are doing it for the right reasons.