Guest article by Sarah Köcher for our My Academic Role Model series.

It is my great pleasure to contribute to this series and I feel very honored to be nominated by Arne De Keyser, a dear co-author who has been part of my academic career from the very beginning. Throughout this journey, I have met many great people who have supported me and with whom I really enjoy working.

First and foremost, I am deeply grateful to my PhD supervisor, Hartmut Holzmüller, who motivated and inspired me to pursue my PhD and continues to support me in every aspect of my journey. I am very grateful for his constant encouragement and belief in me and for giving me the opportunity to present my work all over the world. This journey has connected me with remarkable co-authors and friends.

There is one person in particular – a true role model, both academically and personally – who I would like to highlight: Linda Alkire. We first met at the Let’s Talk About Service (LTAS) workshop in Antwerp back in 2013, at a very early stage of my academic journey. Since then, we have shared many experiences such as workshops, conferences, and collaborative projects. She literally took me by the hand and introduced me to the service community, opening doors for joint research projects and publications. I also had the privilege of visiting Linda at Texas State University, where her hospitality was exceptional. With her dedication to research, she inspired me to pursue an academic career and significantly shaped my interest in service-related research. Her contributions to societal relevant topics such as well-being and her service to the academic community continue to inspire me. It is also a lot of fun to spend time with Linda. I have fond memories of boat trips, a dinner at a wonderful place in Time Square, a barbecue in Austin, a visit to the Christmas market in Dortmund and many more. In addition to her lasting impact on my academic career, I am deeply impressed by her personal journey as a mother of two wonderful daughters. She shows young scientists that it is possible to combine an outstanding academic career with a fulfilling family life. Thank you, Linda, for everything!

Numerous others deserve acknowledgment within this article. My journey has been (and continues to be) shaped by many wonderful people who have welcomed me into the community, who collaborate with me and who inspire me in my research. I would like to thank the organizers of the LTAS workshops for providing a very unique setting to meet, learn from, and work with many role models in the service community and fostering friendships. My gratitude extends to my many mentors at various workshops and conferences, to name just a few who have had a great impact on my journey: Jay Kandampully, Mike Brady, Markus Giesler, Arne De Keyser, Wafa Hammedi, Robert Ciuchita, and Thomas Leclercq

In closing, I would like to express my profound appreciation to my husband and the father of our three wonderful children, Sören Köcher. Beyond our personal bond, Sören has been an exceptional co-author and collaborator on numerous projects, consistently infusing our work with new ideas and a deep dedication to research. His unwavering support has been an important part of my achievements, and I am truly fortunate to have him by my side.

Once more, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful series. For the forthcoming episode, I take great pleasure in nominating Bieke Henkens from Ghent University, this year’s recipient of the prestigious SERVSIG Best Dissertation Award.

Sarah Köcher
Assistant Professor of Digital Marketing
Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences
Christian-Albrechts-Universität (Kiel, Germany)