Formalised industry-academic doctoral partnerships are increasingly sought as a way to bring academia and industry closer together. However, existing approaches appear to either reinforce the divide between the two “worlds” or acknowledge their independence. By focusing on both the doctoral candidate and their supervisor, we problematise existing doctoral partnership models in order to foreground our own “liminal” and “existential” doctoral experience. We provide self-reflections to discuss how the worlds of industry and academia can be transcended through the “liminal self”, as matters of being and belonging are brought into question as the embedded doctoral researcher navigates the two worlds. As a sensemaking process, our paper showcases an innovative and promising approach towards doctoral research; one where the candidate’s philosophical contemplation of their identity comes to play an irrevocable role in the exploration of an empirical phenomenon.