guest article by Tracey Danaher
An academic career is a journey that is greatly shaped by those we meet along the way. As a PhD student in Australia I was greatly influenced by the panel sessions I attended and the discussions I had with Professor Janet McColl-Kennedy (UQ), Professor Rod Brodie (U Auckland) and Professor Les Johnson (MBS). Traveling further abroad, time spent at FSU with Professor Mike Brady and at ASU with Professor Mary Jo Bitner inspired me to be more ambitious with my research projects. Spending time with academics beyond the services community such as Professor Russ Winer (NYU), Professor Gary Lillian (Penn State) and Professor Jennifer Argo (U Alberta) has further expanded the lens through which I view my research. Although many people have influenced my academic journey there are two role models who have greatly shaped my thinking as a researcher.
The first is Professor Jill Sweeney. Jill was my PhD supervisor, she is a mentor, a co-author, and a very dear friend. Jill taught me about the rigour of research, about being methodical and doing everything to the highest standard possible. She supervised my PhD thesis and mentored me through my first experiences in publishing. Jill encouraged me, supported me and cheered me up when things didn’t work out as I had hoped. Jill always listened to my research ideas and point-of-view. She was tough on me and set high expectations; she understood that I needed to be challenged. Jill also passed on her unwavering enthusiasm for research – we both love to be immersed in a research project, sharing ideas and coming up with solutions. Jill is someone I admire greatly on many levels. One of the most valuable lessons Jill taught me is that being an academic is just one component of who I am as a person. Her advice about merging family life and academia made me reshape my research so that I now only work on a couple of large but ambitious projects at one time. Importantly, it allows me to ‘contain’ my academic life to the working week, leaving my evenings and weekends free for my family life. In essence, Jill provided the foundation on which I’ve built my research career.
The second mentor that has shaped my career is Professor Peter Danaher (who also happens to be my husband). Peter has influenced my research and thinking greatly – he has made me look at research from a completely different viewpoint. Peter is a modeller and the way he approaches a research problem is very different than the way I was taught as a PhD student. He challenges me to push the boundaries of what I know and how I view research, methods, and analysis techniques. He encourages me to be a more critical thinker and to think outside-the-box. Peter has also taught me about creativity in research – developing more creative research ideas, merging multiple data sources to provide ‘richer’ insights, and learning new analysis techniques to add ‘depth’ to my findings. Finally, I have learned much about writing and publishing from Peter. Peter’s writing style is concise but very easy-to-read – it is as if he is having a conversation with the reader. He has made me much more aware of how important it is to write clearly, create flow between paragraphs and sections, and get the ‘pitch’ of a paper right in the first page or so. Peter taught me how to address the “so what?” question that is often so challenging in writing a paper. I’ve also learned much about the review process from Peter including how to tackle trickly or conflicting reviews. In essence, Peter expanded my view point which has made me a stronger and more confident researcher.
Most importantly, both Jill and Peter have instilled in me the belief that being an academic is a privilege – to research what interests me, to share and engage in academic discussion with others around the world, to be challenged, to think deeply and critically, and to work with fellow academics is indeed a privilege.
Finally, I would like to nominate Kay Lemon as next guest author of this series.
Tracey Danaher (previously Dagger)
Professor of Marketing
Faculty of Business and Economics