Ashley Keefner

Ashley KeefnerIn the fall of 2008, in my first semester of university, I made a chance decision to take an introductory philosophy course.  I did not know it then, but taking this course would define the next nine years of my life.  I graduated from the University of Windsor in 2012 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts and Science with major concentrations in Philosophy and Physics and a minor in Mathematics.  I went on to complete my Masters and PhD in Philosophy and my Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Science at the University of Waterloo.  This fall, I will be joining the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship, and Technology program, also at the University of Waterloo.

I have always had interdisciplinary interests and each of the subjects I have studied have influenced me, but none quite as much as philosophy.  Early on in my philosophical studies, I gained crucial critical thinking and analytical skills that have given me important advantages when tackling academic, professional, and personal projects.  The perspective that comes with understanding how to analyze information and how people reason and make judgments is invaluable.  I will always recommend that students, regardless of their field of study, take a course in critical thinking!

As I progressed in my philosophical studies, my research interests focused on philosophy of mind, specifically the philosophy of animal minds.  My work has been published in academic journals and my research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Now that my PhD has come to an end, I am excited to switch gears and pursue my entrepreneurial interests.

I had always planned on pursuing a Master of Business after completing my PhD in Philosophy, but I could not have anticipated how strong the connections between my philosophical and entrepreneurial interests would be.  For example, understanding how people think, form beliefs, and make decisions is extremely helpful for all businesses that want to project a certain image, understand market demand, or convince customers to buy their products.  As I pursue my entrepreneurial interests, I am particularly interested in using the knowledge and skills I have gained from my philosophy degrees to find creative and innovative ways to make businesses more ethically responsible, while remaining profitable.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, I have benefited from studying in multiple fields and drawing connections between them, but philosophy has been the field that has given me the most.  While the specific kind of philosophy that I have studied has been beneficial in preparing me for a career in business, it is that I have studied philosophy at all that has given me the greatest benefit.  Regardless of the specific content of the course, philosophy teaches skills that are highly transferrable.  As I go forward and branch away from academic philosophy, I will forever be grateful that I decided to take that first introductory philosophy course back in 2008.