Dr Scott Foster
Scott was born and raised in Bristol, the youngest of five siblings in the UK, with more brothers also in New York and Jamaica who he only met much later in his life. Following a similar path to that of three of his siblings, he joined the Army aged just 16.
“I joined the Army at the earliest possible time I could. A week after my last day of school I was enlisted as a junior soldier in Otterburn Barracks. One of the many reasons why I joined the military was to get away from my life in Bristol. My school education was pretty much non-existent and the only grade from school I obtained was a C in English language, the rest of the qualifications I either failed or did not attempt. Following in my family’s footsteps, I decided to join an infantry regiment, The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, where I stayed for six years with active postings around the world including areas of conflict.”
The Army gave Scott a whole range of personal skills – independence, teamwork, resilience, hard work – providing him with the foundations of who he is today. However, joining the military at such a young age did have its downsides.
“I lacked any understanding of societal expectations. For example, I never had to pay a council tax bill until I left the military. I had no idea what it was even for.”
Finding himself transitioning out of military life and onto civvy street, he was supported through the Job Centre to undertake a six-week placement that gave priority to former soldiers to find jobs in civilian life. It would be during this time that he would have access to further and higher education, perhaps igniting a spark for his future career in academia.
“Luckily for me, when I went for an interview at Mercedes for the role of an accounts assistant, the accountant wanted someone who was a blank canvas he could train but was hardworking and willing to learn. Earning only £7K a year the company agreed after a year to pay for me to do my Associate Accounting Technician qualification, so I was going to night school three days a week from 6pm to 9pm, whilst working a full-time job. My days were very busy, but as my journey shows, I was never not going to work hard.
“Over the years I rose in the company from accounts assistant to Finance Director which I really enjoyed. However, I felt I’d exhausted my time in finance. So, I decided I wanted to move into a management position, mainly because I was fed up with people saying I didn’t understand management because I was just an accountant. I then took up a role for a £200m company as Area Manager with a portfolio of £23m.”
“I would say I have the best role in the university getting to work with the Drs of the future and helping them to navigate through the academic landscape. Watching PhD students graduate and walk across the stage each year makes the job worthwhile. The doctoral students that come to the business school are very bright and motivated, and I would argue have the academic world at their feet.”
– Dr Scott Foster
As Scott was carving out an impressive career in the private sector, he was also striving to educate himself further. It was now that he discovered LJMU and how we are an institution that values life experience; a place dedicated to allowing people to unlock their potential at any stage of life.
“I started my first master’s in 2008. Despite my very poor academic background I was very fortunate the executive MBA programme was recruiting students with experience and not just academic qualifications, of which I would have not been accepted. I was doing my MBA night workshops while still working full-time, and then on completion of my MBA, I decided to do another master’s at LJMU (MRes). After passing my second master's, and working full-time, I then decided to enrol on a PhD, and to continue working full-time.”
After successfully passing his PhD in 2014, Scott decided to leave his private sector management role behind and to become a permanent member of staff at Liverpool Business School, initially lecturing and now working with doctoral students.
“I’m currently the PhD programme leader with responsibility for the doctoral students in the Liverpool Business School. I am also the Faculty Research Degrees Chair with oversight of the doctoral provision in the Faculty of Business and Law.
“Being bias, I would say I have the best role in the university getting to work with the Drs of the future and helping them to navigate through the academic landscape. Watching PhD students graduate and walk across the stage each year makes the job worthwhile. The doctoral students that come to the business school are very bright and motivated, and I would argue have the academic world at their feet.
“PhD students come to LJMU from many different backgrounds, just like myself, and trying to get them to a place where I can help build their confidence is the biggest challenge.
“The best advice I could give anyone is to come and talk to the amazing staff here at LJMU who are dedicated in providing the best student experience we can. There is a wealth of staff with stories like mine who will be able to give real-life examples of how they joined a higher education institution.”