Alumni, Ph.D. Culture, Media and the Creative Industries

Interview with Dr Nicole Ferdinand

by Kirsty Warner

For the next post in the Alumni Blog series, I caught up with Nicole Ferdinand to find out, among other things, why she chose CMCI’s Ph.D. Culture, Media and the Creative Industries course and how it prepared her for her current role.

Dr Nicole Ferdinand is an expert in international marketing, festival and event management, and business strategy. 

Nicole undertook CMCI’s Ph.D. Culture, Media and the Creative Industries between 2008 and 2015.

Biography

During her time at King’s College London, Nicole was a Principal Investigator on the Carnival Futures project (2013 – 2014). The project engaged cultural organizations and stakeholders to proactively plan for the future of the Notting Hill Carnival by proposing and developing responses to scenarios. Since 2013 Nicole has engaged in multiple roles at Bournemouth University, inclusive of Co-Investigator for the Festival Impact Monitor Project, Team Lead for the BU Carnival University, and Senior Lecturer in Events Management. In 2018 she became a Board Member for B-side Festival Company, whilst her most recent role is as a Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University.

Interview

Firstly, why did you choose to undertake a Ph.D. Culture, Media, and the Creative Industries?

Initially, I was driven by studying something different that fit with professional interests. Just prior to coming to King’s I had spent about 2 years working in my country’s (Trinidad & Tobago) grass-root cultural sector and wanted a PhD that spoke to that.

And why at the CMCI Department at King’s College?

I wanted to study in London and although I had put applications into a few universities, I ultimately chose King’s due to their attentiveness in the application process. I remember particularly that my supervisor Dr Ruth Adams was on her sabbatical, and she came to university to discuss my application with me.

How did completing a Ph.D. Culture, Media, and the Creative Industries prepare you for your current role?

My supervisory team along with the training I received at King’s provided me with skills, networks and great experiences that made a huge difference when I began applying for academic positions. I was encouraged to apply for internal research grants and was successful twice which made a huge difference compared to other candidates who did not have that experience. Additionally, by executing the projects I made dozens of contacts who I am still in touch with who became vital to my research. My advice to current students is that even if you are afraid, take up those opportunities to apply for grants and engage with a range of stakeholders. These will become invaluable later in your academic career.

Name something exciting that you are currently working on, and that has been informed by your degree studies.

I recently wrote an article for the Conversation about Euro 2020 and the racist abuse the Black players experienced on Twitter. The article got thousands of reads in days and I was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 about the research I did to write it. Early in my PhD when I was applying for grants, my supervisor showed me how to communicate my research in such a way that it speaks to current issues and can get noticed. I also got confidence speaking in front of cameras as one of the projects featured a video component.

Were there any academics that had a strong influence on you during your time in the CMCI department? Why?

It must be my supervisor Dr Ruth Adams; she works incredibly hard and is so humble. I can also mention Dr Harvey Cohen, Professor Andy Pratt (no longer there), Professor Richard Howells and Professor Nick Wilson. I was older Black female PhD student from a developing country who was working previously at the grass-roots level, not at all the typical student for an institution such a King’s. I admired how I always felt still like I belonged and could have easy conversations with them.

What did you enjoy most about completing your Ph.D.?

Completing my fieldwork and working with the community and feeling like I was making a difference.