Transitioning from academia to management

Ludovic Meaby is a former philosopher who currently works as an executive trainee at the Jardine Matheson Group as a part of their Jardine Executive Training Scheme (JETS). In this role, Ludovic oversees Jardine’s holdings and operations in the Pizza Hut group of restaurants in Asia, particularly in the Indian subcontinent. My interview with Ludovic was very interesting as it provided me with important insights about transitioning from academia to the management industry, and how his philosophical education provided him with the skills to succeed in this sector.

Ludovic received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics and philosophy from the University of St. Andrews, and then went on to complete a second master’s degree in ancient philosophy at the University of Oxford. While he initially planned to pursue a doctoral degree after his master’s program, he realized quite early in graduate school that the academic job market in philosophy is incredibly competitive. In fact, as he described it, even at a university like Oxford – which is the home to one of the top five philosophy graduate programs in the world – a substantial number of graduates do not end up in a tenure-track position. For more than half the graduates, their initial years are spent working in post-doctoral and temporary lectureship positions, and it is only after several years that they manage to land an entry-level tenure track position at an acceptable university. These facts really bothered him, and it was only after much contemplation that he decided to leave academia.

As luck would have it, he was able to land a trainee position at a multinational company like Jardine Matheson, which provided him the resources and experience to begin his professional journey in the management sector. Following his traineeship, Ludovic plans to return to the academy to pursue an MBA or a similar graduate degree in management, in order to transition to a higher-level position within the industry.

Ludovic credits his philosophical education for providing him the critical thinking and analytical skills required to succeed in the management sector. As he told me, although his position is junior-level, his education and philosophical skills have helped him become a better manager than many of his seniors. Therefore, Ludovic highly encouraged me to continue my philosophical studies at least for the next few years. However, he also cautioned me about the job market and advised me to have a fallback plan ready in case academia does not work out. All in all, then, speaking with Ludovic helped me reinforce my decision of attending graduate school in philosophy while simultaneously keeping in mind the harsh reality of the academic job market.