A Plethora of Career Choices

Thora Thorsdottir
PhD in Business Organisation: “The Human Element in Business Acquisitions: A Process View of Success”
Founder of Plethora Intelligence

Thora Thorsdottir completed her PhD from the Business Organisation department at Heriot-Watt University Business School, graduating in 1995. Born in Norway but growing up in both Canada and Iceland, she undertook her undergraduate degree in Iceland, followed by a Masters Degree back in Canada.

It was on a holiday to Edinburgh during her Masters that she fell in love with the city and decided to do a PhD at Heriot-Watt University.


Thora’s graduation day in 1995.

“I absolutely fell in love with Edinburgh. I knew straight away that I wanted to live there and when the option to do a PhD in Scotland arose, I didn’t hesitate to apply. I was offered a place at several Universities in Scotland but decided on Heriot-Watt, mainly because I wanted to live and study in Edinburgh and also because they had someone who was interested in being my PhD supervisor -Dr Monir Tayeb. So I packed my bags, left Canada and moved over to the UK and have been here since!

I lived in several places in Edinburgh, beginning with the Grassmarket in the town centre. The view of Edinburgh castle was spectacular! I had a great time living in Edinburgh. I joined clubs and made many friends – most of whom I still keep in touch with today. My only regret is that I was never in Edinburgh for Hogmanay, choosing to go back to Iceland the Christmases I was there! However, I do remember the Burns Suppers and Ceilidhs, and am possibly one of the few who enjoys bagpipes!


My husband’s job took us south and I have lived in Surrey since leaving Edinburgh more than 20 years ago. I still miss it in many ways and make an effort to go up and see friends every year or two.

After completing my PhD I have had several interesting roles and my career has taken a few interesting twists and turns. I knew that I did not want to go into academia and was reluctant to enter the world of management consultancy as I did not want to spend most of my time away from home.

I have worked for companies such as Bank of America in Toronto, SPSS (now part of IBM) in London and several other IT related companies. My passion has always been with people and I have enjoyed the people side of all my roles. I have since been self employed, working with management consultancies, HR consultancies, employee research and post-merger integration.

I have recently trained in a fantastic career exploration system, called the Intelligent Career Card Sort (ICCS). I work very closely with the developer of this system who is a professor based in Boston! I offer a service to people who are reconsidering their careers, want to make their next step but need assistance with pinning down their ideas, clarifying their values and devising an action plan to get started.  I am very excited about this and offer this service world-wide via skype. I have several clients in Iceland and Canada and other countries. I am interested in working with alumni and have been in touch with several Universities. It would be very exciting to hear from my own fellow Heriot-Watt alumni!

Thora Thorsdottir

Thora Thorsdottir

In terms of my career I have come full circle in that I am now very much using the skills and knowledge gained during my PhD research.  I think it is very important to review what you have done in the past, gain insight into choices in order to understand the bigger picture. This is not with a view to regretting anything but simply to learn and gain insight.

The advice that I would give to students is to study what they are interested in. Also, you can grow and develop and create your career. I used to be hung up on job titles and what is my profession but after much soul searching I have realised that those are just labels and transient. What is important is that at each stage of your career you are doing what you want to do and what is line with your personal  values.

Never consider anything a mistake – it’s just part of your experience and journey and makes you what you are. I used to think that everything is a straight line but life is a lot more complex and at the same time interesting than that. It is also very important to enjoy what you do and life in general. It’s good to set goals but also important to enjoy each day.

Please get in touch if you want – I would love to hear from alumni and current students. You can email me, or follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TThorsdottir.”


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