An Investment in the Future: Mark Samson's honours research in corporate decision making
For Mark Samson, getting the fundamentals right helped to shape his understanding of the bigger picture.
Majoring in Finance, Mark wanted expand on the concepts he learnt from his undergraduate studies and develop specialised knowledge in corporate finance decision making. He saw Honours as an opportunity to strengthen his reading, writing and critical thinking; three core skills that are integral in conducting independent research.
"I found Honours to be a completely different beast than undergrad. The classes were more advanced and rewarding. Students were often required to not only understand the material but produce an original critique of the strengths and weaknesses of theories and papers. Furthermore, writing a thesis was an experience unlike any other that I had undertaken in undergraduate studies."
Mark's research was centered on an wealth accumulation; an growing public and corporate interest.
"My thesis sought to understand whether longer IPO lock-up agreements, which is the period that insiders (typically managers) must wait before they can sell their shares, constrained earnings management".
Core to the Honours program is the ability to conduct original research and produce a dissertation (of 10,000 words, no less) which is a challenging but rewarding process that is undertaken in the second semester. Mark describes the thesis component of the assessment an experience "unlike no other" However, he found that the expertise from his supervisors and teaching staff helped him to manage his workload.
"There is no doubt that you’ll face many issues along the way and the support network of your supervisor/s, lecturers and other students is an invaluable asset. Honours required more of a time commitment than my undergraduate studies but the teaching staff are usually willing to organise seminar times that work for everyone. Students are also expected to manage when you meet with your supervisor or work on your thesis"
Along the way, Mark had the opportunity to meet with a group of like-minded people while exploring a research topic of his interest at a deeper level. Having high-level of knowledge and strong research capabilities has helped to pave his career pathway in the corporate world. His patience and dedication to his honours year study has helped him secure a role at J.P. Morgan as a Banking Analyst, commencing in February 2021.
"I believe that an Honours degree sets you apart from other graduates. First and foremost, it shows that you have an advanced understanding of your chosen field. For example, my finance-specific subjects and research for my thesis bolstered my understanding of Corporate Finance decision making, particularly from the perspective of managers. Furthermore, it gives merit to your ability to manage long-term commitments and conduct original research"
Mark's primary advice for those wishing to pursue an honours topic is to "start early" and "read widely".
"My advice is to start early and find an area of interest in the year prior to Honours. Then, read widely, try to choose a topic, and find a supervisor who will challenge you. If you do a find a great topic, understand whether you can realistically gather the data required for your thesis because these kinds of issues are much easier to tackle earlier than later."Mark Samson