Guest article by Yves Van Vaerenbergh.

When I was asked to write about my role models, I was flattered. That feeling of flattery quickly changed into feelings of uncertainty. There are so many great people within our community that helped or inspired me one way or the other. Talking about only a few of them would be unfair to all others. 

So, I just did what all our students do when they have no idea on how to get started with an assignment: I opened my browser. An analysis of the previous “My Academic Role Models” posts on the SERVSIG website revealed that nearly all my predecessors experienced the same struggle. So far for the help!

Of course, there are people that come to mind right away. I am eternally grateful to Bart Larivière, who was my main PhD supervisor and became a great friend. He taught me so much about doing research and publishing in academic journals. His service to the service community is exemplary and inspiring for many others.

Another person that served as a role model was Robert (Bob) Johnston. I still remember my first interaction with Bob. I was still a student, writing my master’s thesis about the impact of customer complaints on process improvements. Bob wrote seminal articles about multidisciplinary perspectives on service recovery. I reached out to him to ask him some questions. Much to my surprise: he responded! His kindness and helpfulness fueled my interest in pursuing a PhD. I was excited when I met Bob at a conference two years later. He inspired me to approach problems from different disciplinary angles, not just marketing. Bob was supposed to be part of my doctoral examination committee. Unfortunately, he had to cancel as he was diagnosed with a severe illness shortly before the PhD defense, and passed away a couple of months later. Bob is truly missed in our community.

People who know me, know I like to be a bit stubborn every now and then. I would like to switch gears and nominate an entire community. Yes, that’s right. Our entire service community is a role model. Whether you submit a paper to a service journal, attend a service conference, or just have a chat with service researchers, you’ll quickly notice that service researchers are friendly and eager to help you. “Service” is really in our DNA. Thank you all, for making this community so great! 

I would like to invite two people to be next in line. The first one is Jeroen Schepers. We first met at the QUIS conference in Wolfsburg. He’s not only an extremely talented researcher, he’s also a fun guy to hang out with. The second person is Javier Reynoso, presumably one of the nicest people in the academic community. It’s already a long time ago since we’ve met (thank you, Covid-19), but I always enjoy hearing from him.

Yves Van Vaerenbergh
Professor of Marketing
KU Leuven