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Talking with … Lerzan Aksoy

Interviews | Dec 21, 2018 |

Lerzan AksoyEvery installment of “Talking with…” introduces you to a different Gabelli School faculty member, administrator, or staff member. This week, we learn more about Lerzan Aksoy, associate dean of undergraduate studies and professor of marketing.

You started at the Gabelli School 10 years ago. What do you think is the most notable difference between then and now, aside from the unification?
I would have to say it’s the profile of the Gabelli School’s undergraduate program. The school receives so many more applications, the acceptance criteria has increased consistently over the past 10 years, and it has much higher visibility and reputation. It has been and continues to be a joy to teach our undergraduate students. They are amazing!

What is next for your research?
In the next few years, I would like to focus on research that brings elements of social innovation into the service research space.

What is the latest hot topic in services marketing?
One of the projects I have been working on is related to enhancing our understanding of customer delight. Much of the management practice and academic literature say that it is all about positively surprising a customer, akin to a “wow” factor and having them experience joy. Our research shows it is much more complicated to create delightful consumer experiences and that there are six key ingredients in the recipe for delight.

You helped to organize the American Innovation Conference this fall. What was the biggest takeaway for companies who want to be considered innovative by their customers?
The biggest takeaway would be that you don’t have to be a technology company to be innovative; in fact, companies you would not normally consider the usual suspects, such as John Deere, Trader Joe’s, and Chick-Fil-A, are some of the most innovative companies according to U.S. consumers.

What is a 2019 initiative you are planning?
One of the challenges we are facing in higher education is the nationwide rise of mental health challenges amongst college students. In spring 2019, I will be organizing a development workshop for our staff to provide us all with the necessary knowledge, resources, and training to help our students experiencing mental health issues, while also being mindful of our own well-being.

What advice would you give to undergraduates as they start the spring semester?
Do something that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, spend time with friends, and work hard.


Fun questions

Best book you read this year:
My commute to campus from NJ is a long one—especially in rush-hour traffic—so I end up listening to a lot of books, rather than reading them. This year I enjoyed listening to Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun, Blindspot by Mahzarin Banaji, and Presence by Amy Cuddy. Hard to pick just one!

Do you prefer taking the stairs or elevator?
Definitely stairs! Having an office next to the stairway makes one feel guilty using the elevator.

Most recent item you checked off your “bucket list”:
Taking our seven-year-old son Max to the Big Apple Circus.

Best place near the Rose Hill campus to warm up:
My office. I have a small heater under my desk—but don’t tell anyone.

Best place near the Lincoln Center campus to warm up:
Le Pain Quotidien on 65th Street. It’s one of my favorite places to meet friends for coffee. The avocado toast is delicious.

You wake up on a weekend morning to freshly fallen snow. Do you stay inside and stay warm, or go outside for a walk?
I make my morning coffee, turn on the fireplace, and enjoy the view outside.


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