The editors of the Journal of Services Marketing are proud to announce the 2022 winner of the Steve Baron Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Service Research Community: Professor Gaby Odekerken-Schröder (Maastricht University, Netherlands).
Here is her guest article

SERVSIG2022 Conference in Glasgow, UK.

As a recipient of the Steven Baron Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Service Community it is my great honour to reflect on my experiences and share some key lessons I learned. 

Collaborate and stand on the shoulders of giants 

My journey as a service scholar started in the nineties when I was in my twenties and thrilled about the combination of teaching Problem Based Learning courses in the international environment at Maastricht University in The Netherlands and conducting research about loyalty programs in Europe and the United States. My main takeaway from this period is that collaboration is key and standing on the shoulders of giants is crucial in learning from the best. I am greatly indebted to many collaborators and giants, who welcomed me in this warm community of passionate researchers. Jos Lemmink who was the editor-in-chief of Journal of Service Management, and still is a dear friend and continuously inspiring colleague, deserves special credits here. I wish all young service scholars inspiring collaborations and strong giants to support them.  

Do what you love 

Do you feel you need a clearly defined plan of your future career, with demarcated sequential steps? I don’t think so! I always had and still have two very trivial (or not so trivial?) criteria for my career: I want to have fun and I want to learn. And the best way to achieve this, is to do what you love. Having a supportive, collegial, inspiring team of people I love to work with and learn from has been a key success factor in my academic career and still is. What else is more important than being surrounded by kind people, that make you laugh, that you want to spend time with and that constantly challenge your own abilities? My PhD candidates, collaborators near and far away, students, and especially industry collaborators allow me to do what I love most: creating societal impact with our service research. In my view, the beauty of a scholarly career is that it allows you to continuously learn, being it new methods, innovative research themes, leadership skills, or intercultural competencies, experiencing the total package is a true privilege. And in this total package, I highly value a social life, family life and motherhood as people outside my academic network teach me important lessons and allow me to recharge my academic batteries.  

Think of your box 

How boring would life and work be, if we would always do the same and never try something new? Thinking out of my box, resulted in the most inspiring research projects, collaborations and initiatives. My journey can be characterized as a continuous search of how to connect triple helix collaboration (referring to academia, industry and government stakeholders) to tackle wicked problems. With great memories, I cherish my time at the Service Science Factory (SSF), where we use service design approaches to develop service innovations for external stakeholders in multi-disciplinary teams of students and faculty. And more recently our Brightlands Institute for Supply Chain Innovations (BISCI) and the Maastricht Center for Robots (MCR) role model initiatives that combine high quality field research, state-of-the-art service research topics with a nurturing environment that encourages young talent to flourish. As a typical social sciences scholar, I never envisioned becoming so passionate about service robots, but by getting out of my comfort zone I am still on a steep learning curve embracing the unknown! 

Attend conferences  

Lastly, attending international conferences is way beyond academic tourism. Conferences offer a great opportunity ‘to meet the people that you read’, something I considered very special in my early days. It is also a wonderful way to pilot preliminary research ideas in informal meetings or by giving a presentation. And finally, attending conferences allows you to build academic friendships that go beyond geographical borders and age categories as they are based on a joint interest and creating joint memories. Therefore, we warmly welcome you to submit your abstract to Frontiers 2023 in Maastricht by November 25, 2022. We will make sure we create a memorable experience for all conference participants!  

Gaby Odekerken-Schröder
School of Business and Economics
Chair in Customer-Centric Service Science
Associate Dean Internationalisation and Impact