SERVSIG is proud to announce Kristina Heinonen as the new Mentoring Officer of the SERVSIG board. Kristina is Professor of Service and Relationship Marketing and Director of the Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management (CERS), at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. We invited Kristina to introduce herself, so you get to know her better.

It is an honor and privilege to have been asked to join the SERVSIG board as Mentoring officer. I am fortunate to have been surrounded by wonderful service researcher colleagues throughout my scientific career. Teaching and doing research at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland and its Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management (CERS), one of the global service research hubs, means service research is naturally embedded in all activities and this has had a major positive impact on my professional career. I hope that in my capacity as Mentoring officer I can give back and share some of this support and encouragement to the SERVSIG community. 

Hanken has a long tradition of service research, among the longest in the world, with Professor Christian Grönroos as one of the foremost pioneers of service research. Christian is still an active researcher at Hanken and since the 1980s the CERS centre has grown into a large community of some 40 service researchers including Johanna Gummerus, Anu Helkkula, Annika Ravald, Maria Holmlund, Kaj Storbacka, and Robert Ciuchita. It is in this research context that I have had the pleasure of working. The first service conference I attended was the QUIS symposium in Karlstad, Sweden in 2000. I wasn’t even officially enrolled as a doctoral student but had been working as an assistant professor of the Marketing Department at Hanken and it seemed most natural to participate in this conference with many of my colleagues. At the next QUIS symposium in Victoria, Canada (2002) as well as at the Frontiers conference in Maastricht (2002) and the SERVSIG conference in Reims (2003) together with my fellow doctoral students I got to know what it means to be a service researcher. What I found out the was that the service research community and SERVSIG in particular is such an open and fun community, with strong connections and close collaboration between researchers. I have enjoyed so many stimulating conversations (and social events!) with so many service researchers from all over the world. I have also had the pleasure of supervising doctoral students in the area and helping them to connect with researchers worldwide and build their personal network. 

When you are new in a community or new to the field it can be a challenge to find other researchers with similar interests.  Because of this I see my role as Mentoring officer to help others feel welcomed and included in this global community of some 2000 service researchers. I see my role as advising and guiding PhD students and early career researchers in questions about career development, job market, navigating academic life, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources, as well as offering motivation and emotional support, if needed. I hope that I can be a point of contact, either virtually or during conferences and other scientific events. When attending a conference I always bring my running shoes, so you might catch me going out for a run to get to know the location and relax before or after a long day. You’re welcome to join me for a run (or walk) anytime! I look especially forward to welcoming new members to the service research community. I think that with inclusive collaboration and discussion around ongoing research, we can advance the field and we are also better equipped for conducting relevant and impactful service research. My vision is to support and inspire theoretical development among service researchers, since the conceptual understanding is the foundation of all research. And I think that service research is the solution to most of the pressing societal challenges! In this role as Mentoring officer, together with the other SERVSIG board members, I want to engage and inspire and foster the sense of community among service researchers. How can I be of service to you?