Guest article by Javier Reynoso for our My Academic Role Model series.
It was not in my plans to become a full-time academic; rather, I was aiming at a career in the manufacturing industry. However, life had other plans for me. I started teaching one course when I was a senior in the undergraduate program in Industrial Engineering at the Tecnologico de Monterrey. Once I graduated, I continued teaching part time, while working on continuous improvement at Hylsa, a major industrial steel plant. I was then invited to join Vitro Flex, an export automotive glass factory where I continued growing professionally in the field of total quality management. During these initial years, I started visiting the late Dr. Augusto Pozo Pino, whom I had met during my last semesters when I went to ask him for advice on a quality management project, the area he was very well known for in Latin America. Dr. Augusto Pozo Pino, born in Ecuador and lived in Mexico, was the leading figure in total quality management in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries. Our meetings continued and eventually increased in frequency and duration, sometimes reaching up to 2 or 3 hours of rich intellectual conversations. After working a full day with engineers in an industrial setting, coming to Dr. Pozo Pino’s office at Tecnologico de Monterrey became an oasis for discussing a diverse selection of interesting and thoughtful topics, with no agenda nor expected specific outcomes. Our meetings became an intellectual exercise we both enjoyed thoroughly. Dr. Pozo Pino was an anthropologist dedicated to social sciences. Soon I discovered he was in fact a management philosopher, who used to read many books on a diversity of topics. He was particularly interested in the humanistic perspective of organizations.
Dr. Augusto Pozo Pino was my first role model in my career as a Service Management researcher. He left a deep mark on my professional and intellectual development. Our dialogues, often influenced by his unconventional perspective, fed my continuous curiosity to ask key questions, explore and learn thinking out of the box. Without realizing it, I was preparing myself to become a researcher. Thanks to him, I became initially aware of the dominant focus of quality management on manufacturing, and the lack of knowledge on Service. Our rich conversations over those years were fruitful. Despite the progress I was making professionally at the Vitro Group, in 1989, I decided to accept Dr. Pozo Pino´s invitation to join Tecnologico de Monterrey as a full time member of the Quality Center he led. It was there when I decided to do a PhD in Service Management at Manchester Business School (MBS), after realizing the great need for knowledge in this area in the Spanish academic world.
Once I started my PhD at MBS, my initial research idea captured the attention of Professor Brian Moores, who became my PhD Supervisor. My previous working experience in major industries and international projects were not good predictors of what was coming in the next four years. Brian is the most intelligent and one of the most demanding persons I have ever met. Author of one of the pioneer books on Service, “Are they Being Served?” and a passionate advocate, he introduced me to the world of Service. He was the head of the Service Center at MBS, organizing top executive seminars with internationally known faculty from UK and abroad. As his PhD student, I was able to meet those invited professors. I still remember when Len Berry came to MBS in the early 90´s and I drove him and Nancy, his wife, in my blue Ford Escort for sightseeing in the Peak District, outside Manchester. My long-term friendship with Len started that day. One of the main events Brian used to organize was Service America, which involved a trip flying in a Concorde from the UK to the US to visit outstanding service companies.
Like Dr. Pozo Pino, Professor Moores left a very deep mark on me. His personality is unique. Coming from Operations Management, he has always had a brilliant mind and an ability to analyze, synthetize and take decisions in amazing way. Studying and doing research close to Brian shaped my life significantly. The way he guided and supervised my work allowed me to learn and improve in many ways. He was very demanding in every task; always asking the key questions to make me realize the importance of my decisions. Brian was always very rigorous methodologically, not telling me what to do straight away, but making me think to tell him. I learned from him how to shape my research strategy. He was also very tough on my writing in English. He read every single page I wrote and returned it to me “dripping” in red ink. This initially painful exercise turned out to be a valuable learning outcome of my years with Brian. He taught me rigorous academic writing, among other essential skills in this profession. At the same time, Brian has been a very kind, generous and supportive person. He always encouraged me to fly very high, so I attended my very first service research seminar in the summer of 1992, organized by Christian Grönroos and late Veronica Liljander. Professor Moores traveled to Helsinki, where I presented the initial steps of my PhD thesis. At a later stage, he encouraged me to attend La Londe Service Conference where I presented my initial empirical results and received valuable feedback from Benjamin Schneider and David Bowen, dear friends and colleagues who helped me a lot during the last part of my PhD dissertation. Later on, Professor Moores invited Bob Johnston, founding editor of the International Journal of Service Industry Management (now Journal of Service Management), to be my external examiner, and from whom I also took my initial steps in reviewing journal articles. Personally, Brian and his wife Yvonne always have been close to my family. During my years in Manchester they were very warm to Carmen, my wife, and our two elder children, Javier and Paola. We used to visit them at home in the English countryside. Once back in Mexico, we have tried to visit them whenever travelling to the UK.
Overall, in all honesty I can say that my life has been blessed by meeting Dr. Augusto Pozo Pino and Professor Brian Moores. Both have made essential contributions to who I am today and I wish to honor them with the work I have made during these 31 years in the service field. I have been standing on the shoulders of giants.
Professor of Service Management
EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey