by Sertan Kabadayi

Lerzan, Thank you for this great and quite unexpected invitation. I almost choked on my coffee when I read that last paragraph. What an honor! So, let me try this!

As some of you know, I was a late bloomer when it came to service research. In fact, I am still learning and transitioning to it. Over last couple of years, I have had the pleasure to meet and work with some of the most prolific and impressive researchers in the service community. It is just amazing how friendly, supportive and welcoming this community has been to me. Therefore, I think the biggest challenge with this assignment is to pick a limited number of people, given the space. I tried my best, so here are my academic role models:

It is no surprise that my first role model is Lerzan Aksoy, and not because we are both Turkish or we work at the same institution. She is my academic role model simply because she is my academic godmother who introduced me to the service research and community (here special thanks go to Tim Keiningham as well). There is nothing that hasn’t already been said about Lerzan. Everyone who knows her would agree that she is not only a great researcher, but also a great human being who tries to help everyone around her. She is also one of the busiest people that I know and she still manages to stay nice! Her work ethic and attention to detail are just beyond words, and she does a great job, whatever that job is! I have learned a lot from Lerzan over the years about service research. In many cases, she has been the first reviewer of my papers, giving me a great feedback not only about the paper but also about the journals and the field in general. Lerzan has been a very caring mentor to me. Now when I look back, I realize that over the years she has helped me be not only a better researcher but also a better person and I am very thankful for that. When I talk about Lerzan, I could go on and on and on, but I will just stop here, as I still have two more role models to talk about.

The next one is Jay Kandampully. I know, I know! This is not a very original pick, and others have already chosen him, but what can I do? Jay is just someone that many people respect and admire, and I am not the only one who chooses him as an academic role model. Like Lerzan, Jay has also been a great supporter and mentor over the years. I am especially impressed by his support for younger generation of researchers and for those in parts of the world where they are not lucky to have the same academic resources that we have. I do not remember how many times I have heard him talking about, “younger generations,” or “younger colleagues.” His passion to support young researchers is just admirable. One example of his unconditional support for the next generation of service researchers is his involvement with the Let’s Talk About Service (LTAS) Workshop, where he plays a very critical mentoring role not only for the participants but also for organizers, too. Jay is also one of the biggest advocates for expanding the horizons of service research by doing more multidisciplinary work, something that we should all be more mindful of. On a more personal note, in recent years, Jay has also been someone that I email or call whenever I have an idea for a new initiative. I know that he is always there to provide honest and constructive feedback whenever I need it and I am grateful for that.

And my third role model is Ray Fisk. When I was struggling to find my place within service research, I listened to Ray Fisk deliver a speech at the Frontiers conference at Fordham, and it suddenly became clear to me what I wanted to do. Ray’s passion for people, for humanity and for our world is just contagious. I really believe that our world would be a better place if we had more people like Ray. His fight for more inclusion, fairness, equity is inspiring, and when you listen to his story, it all makes sense. By the way, in addition to being a great researcher, he is a great storyteller as well. I cannot believe my luck, but now I have the pleasure and honor of working with this great man on a project, hoping to continue to work with him more in the future. As part of this collaboration, I have seen him in action! In a meeting, everyone says something, and then Ray says something that either provides the most meaningful summary of all the conversation up to that point or just takes the conversation to a new direction or a new level. On top of that, he is just a humble person. A couple of years ago I invited him to be a speaker at our Marketing Area’s Distinguished speaker series at Fordham. During his visit, he thanked me three times for including him in that speaker series, as if it is possible to call him anything but distinguished! Finally, Ray is probably the most colorful academic I have ever met, and I mean it literally. Anyone who knows Ray probably also knows his ties, and they would understand what I mean.

I think by now it is clear that my role models have a few common characteristics: they are not only prolific researchers but also humble, caring people who give support to people around them. They are not only great academic role models but also great role models as human beings as well.

For the next edition, I would like to nominate someone that I consider a “triple threat”: a prolific and productive researcher, a great presenter and a very nice person, someone that I both like and respect a lot: Martin Mende, tell us about your academic role models.

Sertan Kabadayi, PhD
Area Chair – Marketing
Professor of Marketing
Fordham University- Lincoln Center