This is a special post that pays public tribute to one of my mentors, Dr. Stephen W. Brown. Steve recently retired from Arizona State University as a well-respected marketing professor, researcher, and founder of the Center for Services Leadership in ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.
Before I tell you how I met Steve, here’s a bit of background. Steve Brown is internationally known for his pioneering research and thought leadership in services marketing and management, service recovery, and building a service mindset in product-dominated companies. He is a founder of the Center for Services Leadership (CSL) which he helped grow to become one of the premier centers of research and education in services marketing and management. (I highly recommend CSL’s annual Compete Through Service Symposium and Services Leadership Institute. ) As a result of his research and leadership contributions to the field, Steve received numerous international and university-wide recognition, including honorary doctorates from Finland's HANKEN School of Economics and Sweden's Karlstad University.
Mentor, Advisor, and Sounding Board
I feel privileged to have learned so much from Steve even though I was never in one of his classrooms. I first met Steve in 1983 when he was President-Elect of the American Marketing Association. I was newly elected to the AMA Board of Directors and learned a lot from Steve’s leadership style. He laid out an inspiring vision for the marketing association based on the profession’s growth and its role in the emerging field of services marketing and customer satisfaction. Shortly before I took office as AMA Chair-Elect in 1996, I met with Steve to gain insight on leading the association.
My career path closely followed the growth of services marketing as a new field, and Steve was most generous in sharing his research and helping me learn about this new discipline. I also reached out to Steve for advice before I launched my business as a services marketing consultant (more than 20 years ago) and when I wrote my first book on internal marketing.
I am fortunate to have benefited from his guidance and friendship. And I am only one of many students and marketing professionals who have been helped by this man throughout his distinguished career. How lucky for us that in your new role as Emeritus Professor, you'll continue to be involved with the Center for Services Leadership.
Thank you, Dr. Stephen W. Brown, for giving so much of your time to teach, guide, and inspire. Best wishes in your well-deserved retirement!