When you come from abroad, it takes some time to find where you belong. For me abroad meant coming from a different country and from a corporate world to join academia in Helsinki. In January 2016, I left my position as a Sales Manager in St. Petersburg and headed to Helsinki to join a research community at Hanken as a new PhD student.
Lauttasaari, a beautiful island and my home in Helsinki. My endless source of inspiration.
Back then I felt quite certain about the business challenge that I wanted to explore in my doctoral studies. In my sales manager role I was struggling to understand why so many leads (potential customer contacts) created by marketing department were avoided by sales representatives. I was also wondering if they ever got contacted and if not, what were the consequences for the company. Although I had some understanding of the challenge, little did I know how to relate my sphere of interest to the larger academic context. I was also questioning how my topic fitted under the Hanken research umbrella. I was in search of theories to explain my practical observations and paradigms (certain ways of thinking about the topic) where to place my research. Simply put, I was struggling to find where I belong in the academic world. After all, as John Donne put it as early as in the 17th century “no man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main”. Neither is a researcher, so I wanted to see how my topic related to the main and was a part of something bigger.
It was not until this fall semester, my 4th semester of studies, when I finally was able to see the bigger picture behind the topic of my research. This September I attended my last doctoral course at Hanken, that helped me see where I stand. Something clicked in my mind when I was going through the assisgned readings for the Service and Relationship Management course. And it bacame even more clear to me during the classroom discussions that I found the logic missing in my research – service logic and customer dominant logic. These two logics focus on how customers perceive what the companies offer and how they interact with them. These two logics gave me a new range of questions to ask myself when I am thinking about seller’s interactions with the customer. And by starting to think about these new questions I was finally able to relate to research Hanken does on service. Now, I believe I found the logic to which I can relate to when connecting, “bridging” my research to the bigger whole.
Although no man or researcher is an island, you can still happily live on one, as long as you know where the bridge to the mainland is located. I believe, I finally found my place in Helsinki, both in the research community and geographically. So, every day on my PhD studies journey I start on the island of Lauttasaari and commute to the mainland Helsinki to explore the city and my research field further.